Light American Lager, Standard American Lager or Premium American Lager. We’ve probably all had one of each of these, but do we know the difference? No? Don’t worry, they really aren’t that different. Here is the basic breakdown ala GingerBeer interpreting BJCP guidelines.
First, however I have to premise this with a note about my love for lagers. Quite simply, I have very little of it. While I can appreciate a wonderfully crisp Pilsner when it’s sweltering out or I’ve been jumping around the Railway Club during a Rich Hope show, that slight hint of glorious hops just leaves me wishing there were more! And more and more and more! But that is just a personal disability and I will try not to let it affect my beer reporting.
Ok, Light American Lager: these beers are easy(er) on your waistline and light on your taste buds. They fizzle and pop in your mouth with refreshing carbonation and a high percentage of rice or corn instead of barley gives them an airy body that makes them perfect for extended sunbathing sessions at Wreck Beach or team shotgunning in the elevator. In fact they go down as easily as a pint of good ol’ aqua. Though perhaps less hydrating. These beers are designed to appeal to everyone, everywhere, all the time. Except for me. They are lower in alcohol than standard lagers, hence why they make such good session beers. Examples? Sam Adams Light Lager, Miller Light, really all those big name North American brands with “light” in the title.
Moving on. Standard American Lager: in short, as above, but NOT light in alcohol. This is an international style and the mass market lagers from countries around the world usually fall into this category. Think PBR, Budweiser, Kirin or Fosters.
Now on to the high class stuff. Premium American Lager: this is an interesting category because it includes a lot of the beers that us beer nerds turn our noses up at, but also some really well crafted beers from breweries that we proudly consume at tap havens like the Alibi Room. Because this category encompasses such a vast array of beers, the actual products can vary quite dramatically. The BJCP guidelines, however, describe it as being similar to the other styles of American lagers but more body and flavour. Examples of these beers run the gambit from the lager of your favourite brew pub down the street, to Stella or Heineken.
Even though it is not my beer of choice, I have a lot of respect for a well crafted lager. It’s pretty damn easy to brew an average lager that will make you a well loved friend during hockey season, but it takes a lot of skill and love to create a fantastic lager that will entice even hop heads to switch it up once in a while. Now if only the sun would come out and give me a reason to break out the summer beers.