Lager is a type of beer conditioned at low temperatures. It may be
pale, golden, amber, or dark.
Pale lager is the most widely consumed
and commercially available style of beer. Well-known brands include
Pilsner Urquell, Miller, Stella Artois, Beck's, Brahma, Budweiser
Budvar, Corona, Snow, Tsingtao, Singha, Kirin, Heineken, Carling,
Foster's, and Carlsberg.
As well as maturation in cold storage, lager is also distinguished by
the use of the
Saccharomyces pastorianus yeast. While it is possible
to use lager yeast in a warm fermentation process, such as with
American steam beer, the lack of a cold storage maturation phase
precludes such beer from being classified as lager. On the other hand,
Altbier and Kölsch, brewed with a Saccharomyces cerevisiae
top-fermenting yeast at a warm temperature, but with a cold storage
finishing stage, are classified as obergäriges lagerbier
(top-fermented lager beer).
Until the 19th century, the German word lagerbier (de) referred to all
types of bottom-fermented, cool-conditioned beer, in normal strengths.
Germany today, however, the term is mainly reserved for the
prevalent lager beer styles of southern Germany, "Helles" (pale),
or a "Dunkel" (dark). Pilsner, a more heavily hopped pale lager, is
most often known as "Pilsner", "Pilsener", or "Pils". Other lagers are
Bock, Märzen, and Schwarzbier. In the United Kingdom, the term lager
commonly refers specifically to pale lagers, many of which are derived
1 History of lager brewing
2 Production process
3.1.1 Pale lager
3.1.3 Dark lager
4 See also
History of lager brewing
While cold storage of beer, "lagering", in caves for example, was a
common practice throughout the medieval period, bottom-fermenting
yeast seems to have emerged as a hybridization in the early fifteenth
century. In 2011, a team of researchers claimed to have discovered
Saccharomyces eubayanus is responsible for creating the hybrid
yeast used to make lager.
Based on the numbers of breweries, lager brewing became the main form
of brewing in Bohemia between 1860 and 1870, as shown in the following
In the 19th century, prior to the advent of refrigeration, German
brewers would dig cellars for lagering and fill them with ice from
nearby lakes and rivers, which would cool the beer during the summer
months. To further protect the cellars from the summer heat, they
would plant chestnut trees, which have spreading, dense canopies but
shallow roots which would not intrude on the caverns. The practice of
serving beer at these sites evolved into the modern beer garden.
The rise of lager was entwined with the development of refrigeration,
as refrigeration made it possible to brew lager year-round (brewing in
the summer had previously been banned in many locations across
Germany), and efficient refrigeration also made it possible to brew
lager in more places and keep it cold until serving. The first
large-scale refrigerated lagering tanks were developed for Gabriel
Spaten Brewery in Munich by
Carl von Linde
Carl von Linde in 1870.
Lager beer uses a process of cool fermentation, followed by maturation
in cold storage. The German word "Lager" means storeroom or warehouse.
The yeast generally used with lager brewing is Saccharomyces
pastorianus. It is a close relative of the Saccharomyces cerevisiae
yeast used for warm fermented ales.
While prohibited by the German
Reinheitsgebot tradition, lagers in
some countries often feature large proportions of adjuncts, usually
rice or maize.
United States brewing as a means of
thinning out the body of U.S. beers, balancing the large quantities of
protein introduced by six-row barley.
Adjuncts are often used now in
beermaking to introduce a large quantity of sugar, and thereby
increase ABV, at a lower price than a formulation using an all-malt
grain bill. There are however cases in which adjunct usage actually
increases the cost of manufacture.
The examples of lager beers produced worldwide vary greatly in flavor,
color, composition and alcohol content.
Main article: Pale lager
The most common lager beers in worldwide production are pale lagers.
The flavor of these lighter lagers is usually mild, and the producers
often recommend that the beers be served refrigerated.
Pale lager is a very pale to golden-colored lager with a well
attenuated body and noble hop bitterness. The brewing process for this
beer developed in the mid 19th century when Gabriel Sedlmayr took pale
ale brewing techniques back to the
Spaten Brewery in
applied it to existing lagering brewing methods.
This approach was picked up by other brewers, most notably Josef Groll
who produced in Bohemia (now part of the Czech Republic) the first
Pilsner Urquell. The resulting pale colored, lean and
stable beers were very successful and gradually spread around the
globe to become the most common form of beer consumed in the world
Distinctly amber colored
Vienna lager was developed by brewer Anton
Vienna in 1841. Austrian brewers who emigrated to Mexico in
the late 19th century took the style with them.
Vienna lager is a
reddish-brown or copper-colored beer with medium body and slight malt
sweetness. The malt aroma and flavor may have a toasted character.
Despite their name,
Vienna lagers are generally uncommon in
continental Europe today but can be found frequently in North America,
where it is often called pre-Prohibition style amber lager (often
shortened to "pre-Prohibition lager"), as the style was popular in
pre-1919 America. Notable examples include Samuel
Adams Boston Lager, Great Lakes Eliot Ness, Devils Backbone Vienna
Lager, Abita Amber,
Yuengling Traditional Lager,
Dos Equis Ámbar and
Negra Modelo. In Norway, the style has retained some of its former
popularity, and is still brewed by most major breweries.[citation
Dunkel and Schwarzbier
Lagers would likely have been mainly dark until the 1840s; pale lagers
were not common until the later part of the 19th century when
technological advances made them easier to produce. Dark lagers
typically range in color from amber to dark reddish brown, and may be
termed Vienna, amber lager, dunkel, tmavé, or schwarzbier depending
on region, color or brewing method.
Tmavé is Czech for "dark", so is the term for a dark beer in the
Czech Republic - beers which are so dark as to be black are termed
černé pivo, "black beer".
Dunkel is German for "dark", so is the
term for a dark beer in Germany. With alcohol concentrations of 4.5%
to 6% by volume, dunkels are weaker than Doppelbocks, another
traditional dark Bavarian beer. Dunkels were the original style of the
Bavarian villages and countryside. Schwarzbier, a much darker,
almost black beer with a chocolate or licorice-like flavor, similar to
stout, is mainly brewed in
Saxony and Thuringia.
In 2010 brewer
Diageo which is part made up of the Irish brewer
Guinness released their own
Beer measurement, information on measuring the color, strength, and
bitterness of beer
Reinheitsgebot, an influential Bavarian and German brewing law
^ Briggs, D.E.; Boulton, C.A.; Brookes, P. A.; and Stevens, R.
Brewing, 2004, CRC. ISBN 0-8493-2547-1 p. 5.
^ Jeff Alworth (2015). The
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^ Ray Daniels (1998). Designing Great Beers The Ultimate Guide to
Beer Styles. Brewers Publications.
^ "Willkommen beim Deutschen Brauer-Bund:
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^ "Pils is arguably the most successful beer style in the world". The
Beer Institute. Archived from the original on 2011-10-19.
^ "500 years ago, yeast's epic journey gave rise to lager beer".
Geneticarchaeology.com. Retrieved 2014-04-08.
^ "Microbe domestication and the identification of the wild genetic
stock of lager-brewing yeast". Proceedings of the National Academy of
Sciences. 108: 14539–14544. 2011-08-22. doi:10.1073/pnas.1105430108.
^ Pasteur, Louis, Studies in Fermentation, 1879. English translation
reprinted 2005 Beerbooks.com ISBN 0-9662084-2-0 p10. Citing
Moniteur de la Brasserie, 23 April 1871.
^ Schäffer, Albert (2012-05-21). "120 Minuten sind nicht genug" [120
minutes aren't enough].
Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung
Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (in German).
^ a b James Burke (1979). "Eat, Drink, and Be Merry". Connections.
Episode 8. Event occurs at 41 (49 minutes). BBC.
^ Bamforth, Charles (2003). Beer: Tap into the Art and Science of
Brewing, Second Edition. Oxford University Press, Inc.
^ "The History of Lager".
^ "LAGER BEER STYLES, European All-malt Pilsener". Beermonthclub.com.
^ Gregory J. Noonan, Mikel Redman and Scott Russell; Seven Barrel
Brewery Brewers' Handbook; G.W. Kent, Inc; ISBN 1-887167-00-5
Beer Guide: Dunkel". www.germanbeerguide.co.uk. Archived
from the original on 2010-06-09. Retrieved 2010-05-26.
^ "Pražský Most u Valšů at
Beer Culture". www.beerculture.org.
^ "Dunkel". German
Beer Guide. 2004-08-01. Archived from the original
on 2010-06-09. Retrieved 2012-08-14.
Beer in Belgium
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