Lagers have to ferment low and slow at cool temperatures to get the best results.
Now is one of the best times to start exploring (and appreciating) what authentic lager can be. The craft beer movement has had a resurgence since the COVID pandemic. American breweries have had more time to produce some of the best lager beers in various mature and delicious choices because of brewery closures across the country.
This list of cold-fermented beers doesn’t just include pale amber pilsners, although they are present. It also has options that are dark, flavored, spiced, and pale.
Become a lager convert; this family of beers is available from craft breweries all over the country. Read on and find your lager.
New Belgium 1554 Enlightened Dark Ale
We’re starting with a dark ale because lagers are more than just the Coors Lite and Budweisers of the world.
Those popular beers are fine, but this American lager from Colorado’s New Belgium Brewery is dark and rich with notes of roasted coffee. It looks like a stout but uses lager yeast.
1554 is the beer to give your friends that don’t like lagers.
Shmaltz Pastrami Pilsner
It is a flavored lager that doesn’t use pastrami but instead takes its inspiration from the flavors found in the famous deli meat.
That’s things like:
- cracked black pepper
- caraway and mustard
- Natural horseradish flavor
It would be fun just as a quirky idea, but people return to this beer because it offers umami in drink form. We think it’s the perfect beer to have with a sandwich and a bag of chips.
Big Grove Brewery Iowa City Lager
This lager appeals to so many people because it’s so light and accessible, with a crisp, clean taste, a fresh linen scent, and a bit of a honey swirl on the back of your tongue.
A perfect summer beer for times when you know you should stay hydrated, but the party on your patio demands something a little stronger than just water.
Smith & Lentz Brewing Mariachi Static
This Nashville lager offers mint and citrus aromas with a mild bitterness that disappears quickly. It almost bridges the gap between lager and IPA.
It can be a good introduction for a lager drinker to IPAs or a bridge to lagers from the IPA side. It’s light and aromatic either way you drink it while retaining its crispness.
Hopewell Brewing Co Alpi
An Italian-style Pilsner that tricks your taste buds into thinking it’s sweeter than it is.
It does this by pushing the naturally sweet hops forward and adding layers of coconut and notes of pineapple with a floral body.
Crisp, refreshing, and light, it’s a nice beer to offer your cocktail-loving friends who aren’t fans of heavier ales and bitter IPAs.
Jack’s Abby Craft Lagers Calyptra
The purple can makes it jump out on the shelf, and the heavy grapefruit in each sip keeps it memorable without tasting soapy.
Too much rind can cause a beer to become astringent, but this lager balances bitterness and citrus to make an enjoyable beer that you can drink for any occasion.
Poison City Brewing Sad Devotion to Ancient Religion
This beer with a very cool name is a Schwarzbier, a German-style which translates to black beer.
This lager offers a lighter body than a porter or stout while still having a heavier beer’s notes of chocolate, biscuit, and depth.
It makes a great addition to ice cream or brownies or for drinking after a meal. If you’ve always wanted to try dark beer, try a Schwarzbier to start.
Urban Chestnut Zwickel
This unpasteurized lager appears cloudy but tastes pure and clean like a traditional filtered lager, perhaps even more so. As European beers are so simple, there’s nothing for the brewer to hide behind, and this beer is so popular because it’s so simple.
The aroma is hops, but the taste is rich and almost bread-like, making it a filling drink compared to the lighter summer lagers mentioned elsewhere in this list.
Skip the bread with your German cuisine or barbeque and indulge in a Zwickel instead.
Brick West Brewing Co. Brick West Pilsner
This Pilsner has a dry, clean finish, almost like a dry white wine for wine lovers. As this is a German-style lager with some bitterness, hops, and a round taste, it will make you want to have more than one.
Light, fresh, crisp, and summery with a hoppy aroma and enough bitterness make it a great addition to a meal.
Lagers are versatile, and this one comes recommended as a pairing with risotto or pasta with cream sauce.
It’s also delicious and enjoyable on its own, with a golden color that looks beautiful in a glass.
Chuckanut Rye Lager
Lagers fermented and mixed with rye are becoming more popular, and that’s because of the unique and tasty spicy finish the rye gives to the finished product.
This beer is a beautiful golden lager, an excellent pairing with food or a complex malty drink to sip while enjoying a late summer or early fall evening.
The difference for this Mexican craft lager is that it doesn’t need help from citrus to bring out the highlights in its flavor—no need to squeeze lime or citrus wedges down the bottle’s neck.
It has a bit more bitterness and more depth and character on its own, allowing it to stand out among the other traditional, paler Mexican lagers.
Try the Bohemia Clásica, and if you enjoy its unique profile, branch out into other Mexican lagers on the market.
Russian River Brewing Co – Santa Rosa STS Pils
This Pilsner has bitter notes throughout, but it works well because the rest of the profile is bright and malty.
Balance is crucial in lagers; perhaps that’s why people have the misconception that they’re boring. Try this one if you want to appreciate a pure PIlsner made with lager yeast and a Russian River fermenting.
Tröegs Sunshine Pilsner
This Pilsner is a beer that is not only delicious in the summertime, but it looks like liquid sunshine with a straw to gold color hue when it’s poured.
It has a bright and clean taste of citrus, honey, and bread with an aroma of herbs and natural, moderate carbonation that lifts everything.
No matter the season or the occasion, this is just an excellent refreshing beer that breaks that joke of lagers being boring.
Art History Brewing Inc Art History Fastenbier
Also known as Lenten lager (lent beer), this variety of smoked beer was traditionally only distributed by monks to other monks. Then, later on, it sold during Lent as a way to encourage the consumption of calories without breaking the required fast.
If you’re lucky enough to get this Fastenbier from Art History Brewing, you’re in for a treat.
It’s dark for a lager but full of chocolate and spices with an aroma of tobacco that adds depth without weight. It is a meal in a glass.
New Glarus Two Women Country Lager
Sometimes you want a classic lager that is simple and done perfectly.
This beer is a by-the-book country lager crafted in a collaboration between two women-led breweries using malt and hops, resulting in a well-balanced drink that pairs well with heavy food.
A light-colored beer from Chicago’s Dovetail Brewery possessing a well-rounded body, this Helles is slightly floral but still clean and refreshing.
Consider this for a drink option at the tailgate party or for watching baseball together with family and friends.
Blackberry Farm Mountain Lager
When summer turns to fall and the weather starts to cool, this Vienna-style lager offers a bolder taste and richer body than a traditional pale lager.
Try it by the campfire—the malty taste pairs well with grilled meat and dark chocolate s’mores.
Trophy Flight Trajectory
Brown in color and a whopping 10.1% ABV, this Imperial lager has a powerful sip that might confuse someone new to lagers.
Don’t be confused about the taste though, It tastes great while packing a punch, unlike its light and refreshing relatives.
With jammy notes like good red wine and woodsy elements like a fine liquor, it somehow works together to be something even better than the sum of its parts.
Finback Brewery Telephone Lines
A clean, crackling lager with a delicate hint of spice may be the best starting point for someone new to the style of beer, given all the unique variations of lagers.
This one is smooth with some lemon, pine, and even peppercorns lurking in the background. Combined with light carbonation and lighter bitterness, it makes a great warm-weather beer.