For most newcomers to the suds scene, just saying “craft beer” conjures visions of IPAs. The hoppy, over-the-top west coast IPA (and more recently, the juicy New England-style IPA) has reigned supreme for decades. But, in recent years, many craft brewers have begun to embrace the lighter, more refreshing side of brewing (see: lager) and their fans are quickly catching on.
Is the lager boom a result of drinkers and brewers growing weary of bitter, dank hop-fueled brews? Are they simply looking for a change of pace and a new way to experiment? Or are they simply afraid they’ll all get man-boobs? It’s tough to say. All we know is that sipping on frosty, cold craft lagers made by the likes of Founders, Cigar City, and the king of all lager-makers Jack’s Abby is a damn fine way to spend a June day. That’s why we decided to list some of our favorites below. Grab a sixer and take a sip on the lighter side this summer.
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This 6.2 percent Czech-style pilsner is the only lager made by Lagunitas. As you can imagine, a brewery known for its hoppy brews (like Hop Stoopid) really wanted to make a statement with this lager. It’s brewed with imported Saaz hops as well as a bottom-fermenting yeast strain. The result is refreshing and light and perfect for chilling on a hot summer day.
Jack’s Abby House Lager
Jack’s Abby is definitely the most well-known lager-centric brewery in America. You can pretty much blindly pick up any of the brand’s brews and feel guaranteed you’ll be happy with your decision. One of its best and most true to the style is its 5.2 percent House Lager. This golden lager is crisp, sweet, and will delight even the most die-hard German beer fans.
This “crushable” 4.5 percent lager was first introduced in 2000 and was only recently brought back this year. It’s a nice mix between the US and Germany as it is a combination of German Pilsner and North American Pale malts. It gets its balance from the addition of Hallertau, Tradition, Spalter, Select, and Saphir hops.
Victory Helles Lager
This 4.8 percent German-style Helles is one of the best American versions of this European classic. Made using all German noble hops (Tettnang Mittelfrueh), yeast, and malts, Helles Lager is an easy-drinking, well-balanced lager that pairs well with cheeseburgers, hotdogs, and potato salad.
Venice, California’s House Brewing Co. only makes one beer: an American pale lager aptly called House Beer. That’s just fine because this brew — made with Noble Hops and Crystal Malts — is the only beer you’ll need while you stand next to your grill all summer long.
Founders Solid Gold
This 4.4 percent lager is one of the newest year-round releases from Michigan’s Founders. Designed to be light and drinkable, Solid Gold is just that. This premium lager is perfect after a sunny, hot Sunday spent mowing your lawn in the country or just sweating on a balcony in the middle of a bustling metropolis.
Cigar City Lager
Tampa’s Cigar City has somewhat of a cult following in the world of craft brewing. People wait in line for a ridiculously long time for some of the brewery’s hard-to-get releases. Its 4.5 percent “Tampa-style lager” is easier to find but definitely not to be missed. Made with German malted barley, Bavarian lager yeast, and Halertauer hops, this beer is light, crispy, and refreshing. Ideally for the muggy days of summer in the south.
Ballast Point Longfin Lager
This German-style lager is made to pay homage to the Bavarian brews that came before it. This 4.5 percent Helles Lager is balanced out with a subtle hop presence at the finish. It’s a favorite at the brewery and should be one of your personal favs for summer imbibing. It’s perfectly paired with yard games and good friends.