American Lagers are the big box beers like Budweiser and Coors Original that your father used to bring fishing for hydration instead of water (thanks, Dad), the beers your rural-living uncles crush during American football games, and the beers craft beer nerds twirl their hipster mustaches at as they scoff.
But, to be perfectly fair and honest, the beers are insanely difficult to make. For better or for worse, craft breweries have a hell of a time trying to make them, and you won’t find too many American lagers at your local brewpub. But Minnesota craft breweries are making them, and some are quite good.
We’ve chosen only three for this beer style column, but that’s because this beer isn’t made that often (too many styles veer off the style path), and as stated earlier, this beer is very difficult to brew.
Style: American Lager
Flavor profile: Low to no bitterness. Many people get a corn flavor and aroma due to adjuncts in the brew process. Flavor can come off a bit sweet, yeasty, floral, or even spicy and herbal.
Macro Options: Budweiser, Coors Original, Miller High Life, Pabst Blue Ribbon, Special Export.
- Pale, highly carbonated.
- Easygoing flavor profile, and best served very cold.
- Often marketed as a pilsner thanks to Big Brother speak (false marketing).
- Do a blind taste test of the big box versions of this and try to guess which is which. You won’t be able to taste an iota of difference.
Forager Brewing Co. W.T. Light
Smells sweet, yeasty. Flavor is yeasty, with an underlying sweetness. Super clean, crisp, and hits all the notes of an American Lager, with the maximum amount of hop assertiveness allowed for the style. The first batch, available now, is one of Forager’s best brews (and will be a regular), and a proper prelude to its upcoming Czech Pilsner.
Surly Brewing Co. #Merica
This pre-Prohibition (ugh, what a time to be alive) isn’t afraid to let it be known that it’s brewed with flaked corn and some hops to give it an herbal characteristic. It works if you’re looking for a great lawn mowing beer, one that won’t have you feeling like keeling over during a hot summer day. It’s no longer in season, as these are mostly summer beers (Forager just does what it wants, thus a crushable lager in the fall!), but keep it on your radar.
August Schell Brewing Co. Grain Belt Premium Lager
This historical brand wasn’t always brewed by Schell, but the brewery kept it alive and keeps it corny, simple, and cheap. You’re going to get a bit of malt with this one, and of course some sweetness (notice a pattern?), but you will also get a little bit of hop aroma and bitterness in this one. This brand has lasted through a lot of rough patches since its inception in 1890, and is a Minnesota mainstay, proving to be hearty, just like the beer-loving fools who decide to stay through our harsh winters.