1B – Standard American Lager

Standard American Lagers are the “regular” strength versions of the lite American lagers. The style guidelines for this beer are almost identical as those for the lite versions. The only difference is that the hop bitterness may go up to the medium-low level, the body is light instead of very light, and of course the standard versions have higher calories and gravities. Internationally, these are the standard mass-market lagers in most markets.


  • Aroma: Since it has little or no flavor, it is only natural that it has little or no malt aroma. It is possible that a little grainy aroma sneaks through, or when using corn, a sweetness reminiscent of corn may be present. The hop aroma is also in the range of none to light and when present is usually spicy or floral. Low levels of yeast character such as DMS, acetaldehyde or fruitiness may be present and is acceptable when it appears. Diacetyl is not acceptable and is considered a fault so be sure to give the fermenting beer a bump of 5-10 degrees for the last few days to get rid of any remaining diacetyl before lagering.
  • Appearance: Since there is really nothing in the beer but American pale malt and adjuncts to dilute that, the color will be very pale straw to pale yellow. The head is white and usually dies quickly. The beer is very clear.
  • Flavor:The flavors are light when present. It is described as being crisp and dry, which don’t really describe the flavor as much as they describe the carbonation and attenuation of the beer. When flavor is present, it will be a light graininess from the malt, maybe a sweetness from the corn, a very low level of hop flavor and bitterness when present. The overall balance of the beer will vary, but will be from lightly malty to lightly bitter. Genereally the standard American lager is pretty well balanced. When described as crisp, it is usually due to high levels of carbonation. You will find no diacetyl and no yeast derived fruitiness in these beers.
  • Mouthfeel: The mouthfeel for this beer is described as having a light body. The adjuncts used to brew standard American lagers will dry out the beer and it will attenuate well if you pay close attention to your fermentation temperatures.
  • Overall Impression: Again, a very quaffable beer that is just slightly stronger than the lite American lagers. Very refreshing on a hot day, it goes down well. This is the true American session beer.
  • Comments: This lager is the same as the standard lager from most markets in Europe. Everything must be light in this beer and any strong flavor is considered a fault. It is easy to throw this beer out of balance so pay close attention to the IBUs and don’t use any continental malts, just American 2-row or 6-row. Use only the freshest ingredients. If using malt extracts, make sure they are not made from continental pilsener or English pale malts. Pay very close attention to the fermentation temperatures and keep them in the low 50°F range (10°C) to minimize fruity or otherwise strong flavors. Let the beer finish fermentation and be sure to give it a diacetyl rest to clean up the beer.
  • Ingredients: American 2-row or 6-row barley and a high percentage of rice or corn (up to 40%). When using more than 25% adjuncts, try to use some 6-row to help with the conversion and give it plenty of time.
  • Vital Statistics: OG: 1.040-1.050 IBUs: 8-15 FG: 1.004-1.010 SRM: 2-4 ABV: 4.2-5.3%
  • Commercial Examples: Pabst Blue Ribbon, Miller High Life, Budweiser, Baltika #3 Classic, Kirin Lager, Grain Belt Premium Lager, Molson Golden, Labatt Blue, Coors Original, Foster’s Lager

Information for this page was adapted from the BJCP Style Guidelines for 2008. You can check out the original version by clicking here.

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