Ray's Craft Beer Newsletter
Lagers You'll Love
May 2013
Volume 2 Issue 10 
Dear Rays Craft Beer Lovers,


As the seasons change, many of us trade in our dark, heavy beers for something lighter. Normally we reach for a crisp, refreshing lager. In my opinion, lagers are an under-appreciated family of beer. People often write them off as being watery, flavorless or boring. Well, I consider myself a beer Zorro -- defender of downtrodden brews! In this issue, we'll talk about a few lagers that will change those preconceived notions, and then wrap up with a fresh hop edition of Substitute Teacher.




Dan Downes
New Belgium Shift
Veldensteiner Zwick'l
Sprecher Black Bavarian
Kulmbacher Eisbock
Substitute Teacher
Lagers, the Rodney Dangerfields of the beer world.

Coming from the German word lagern meaning "to store," lagers are one of the two main classifications of beer (the other being ales). Yeast is the main thing that differentiates the two. The typical lager yeast Saccharomyces pastorianus (named after Louis Pasteur), ferments at cooler temperatures than ales. This results in a mellower beer with better clarification and fewer esters. Basically they are crisper with less fruity characteristics than ales. Pale, macro produced lagers are usually the first thing that come to when when discussing this style, but they come in all types of strengths, flavors and colors which we'll explore here.

New Belgium Shift



This first beer was inspired by the idea of producing a drink for the employees at New Belgium to share together at the end of the workday. They decided to name it Shift and brewed an all malt pale lager. Wanting to produce something with a bit more character, though, they added more hops to recipe to create a lager with some American Pale Ale character.


Clear, and dark straw in appearance, this is exactly what you expect from a high quality lager. The malt exhibits the light breadiness that seem natural for the style. The added hop profile, however, adds another layer of complexity as the four different varietals provide melon, citrus and lightly floral additions. Taste mirrors the aroma in many ways. The malt delivers a slight sweetness and the typical easy drinking body. Again, the hops come through at the end and add some citrus, bitterness and a faint pepper characteristic. Finishing clean, this could be your go-to thirst quencher for the summer. 
Veldensteiner Zwick'l

We move another rung up the lager tree for a somewhat obscure style known as Zwickelbier. Native to the Franconian region of Bavaria, it earned its name from the Zwickelhahn, a small siphon used by the brewer to sample beer out of the barrel. Unfiltered and unpasteurized, it can be thought of as a milder version of Kellerbier ("cellar beer"). Due to the limited nature of the style, the Veldensteiner version is one of the few readily available Zwickelbiers! 


After popping the nifty swing top, Zwick'l pours a cloudy, golden color and produces a fluffy, white head. A welcome, honey aroma pushes through backed by traditional German noble hops that give off lemon zest and spice. The flavors are balanced toward malt with a bready focus and a hint of caramel. The hops are not very pronounced, but they do add a touch of grassiness. Medium bodied and very smooth, the carbonation cleanses the hop finish and makes this a fun, unique style worth checking out.

Sprecher Black Bavarian 


Many of us are familiar with this next beer, but we may not know a lot about the style. Sprecher's flagship Black Bavarian can technically be classified as a schwarzbier. Literally meaning "black beer," this traditional German style dates all the way back to the Middle Ages. Despite looking like a porter or stout, Black Bavarian proves that you shouldn't judge a beer by its appearance.


Black in color (surprise surprise), it has a faint nose of coffee and brown sugar. Taste wise, the roasted malt delivers chocolate and a little bit of nuttiness. The hops come through in the finish and provide enough bitterness to balance things out. What sets this beer apart, though, is the mouthfeel. Very creamy, but still light in body, this style will make you reassess what you think about "dark" beers. 
Kulmbacher Eisbock


We wrap up with one of the strongest beers in the lager category -- the eisbock. Translating to "ice bock," Legend has it that the term originated from the 19th century German practice of color changing steins that indicated when your beer was cold enough to drink. Actually, the true legend goes like this: 


Around the year 1890, an apprentice at a brewery in Kulmbach brewery failed to properly put away casks of bock beer one night. That evening turned out to be especially cold and actually wound up bursting the casks! The next morning, an irate brewmaster ordered the apprentice to drink the supposedly ruined beer (sounds like my kind of punishment). As it turned out, alcohol has a lower freezing point than water and, thus, the flavors of the bock beer were concentrated and it turned out delicious! The brewers in Kulmbach soon made it a regular practice to leave casks out overnight during cold spells.


If you've never tried an eisbock, you might as well go for one of the originals. Imagine all the flavors of bock beers that you enjoy, but concentrated. Dark and rich, there are strong aromas of plums and raisins. Sweet, but not syrupy, this is an intense beer. Big, dark fruit flavors are accompanied by toastiness and small hints of dark chocolate. Heavy in mouthfeel, it hides its 10% ABV extremely well. Much different than the other lagers featured, this one would be perfect for those unseasonably cool nights! 
Substitute Teacher
If you like...Wisconsin Wet Hop Beers
Then you'll like...Sierra Nevada Southern Hemisphere Harvest Ale

This past fall, five Wisconsin breweries banded together and produced different beers all using the same locally grown wet hops. They were all a huge hit, but can only be made once a year during harvest season. Well, thanks to a little friend known as Earth's axis, we're able to get a second hop harvest in the Southern Hemisphere. The first American brewery to produce a harvest ale in 1996, Sierra Nevada decided to brew its Kiwi counterpart in 2008 using New Zealand fresh hops. 


What's the difference between fresh and wet hop? Without going into too much detail, wet hops are freshly harvested and not dried out at all. Sierra Nevada uses the term fresh hop to describe the fact that these are the first, newest hops of the season. All the hops used in the beer were picked, dried and shipped in less than seven days! Much like the the Wisconsin version, this beer showcases the entire range of hop profiles as resin, grassiness, citrus and a touch of tropical fruit all display themselves in both the aroma and flavor. Thanks axial tilt!

Save 10%
Receive 10% of all beers featured in Volume 2 Issue 10 of the Ray's craft beer newsletter. Thus, it is limited to New Belgium Shift, Veldensteiner Zwick'l, Sprecher Black Bavarian, Kulmbacher Eisbock and Sierra Nevada Southern Hemisphere Harvest Ale. No limit. Not redeemable with any other special offers. 


Offer Expires: Sunday May 19 at 5:00pm
Thanks again for subscribing to and reading Ray's craft beer newsletter. If you have any questions, comments or suggestions, please feel free to email me at dandownes@rayswine.com

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