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Craft Beer Experts Share The Lagers They’re Drinking This Winter

Named for the German word for warehouse and/or storage, lager is one of the oldest and most celebrated beer styles in the world. In a beer-verse filled with punch-packing double IPAs, rich, indulgent barrel-aged beers, and funky, fruited sours, lagers offer a crisp and refreshing respite, no matter the season.

While many drinkers likely envision the classic pale lager, the style comes in all colors of the beer rainbow. Depending on if it’s a Pilsner, helles, Vienna lager, bock, dunkel, or even a smoky schwarzbier, this style can be amber, ruby, or even as dark as your favorite stout or porter. It’s also a fun style to get into during the winter months because of the nearly endless flavor profiles ripe for discovery (plus it’s often lighter in texture than our other winter favorites).

Since picking out the right lager for your palate can be confusing (given all the options out there), we asked a handful of well-known brewers and craft beer experts to tell us the lagers they’ll be drinking this winter. Let’s dive in and see what they picked!

Augustiner Maximator

Augustiner Maximator
Augustiner

Garrett Oliver, brewmaster at Brooklyn Brewery in Brooklyn, New York

ABV: 7.5%

Average Price: $12 for a six-pack

Why This Beer?

My pick is Augustiner Maximator. This classic Munich doppelbock has a toffee-like depth of malt flavor that is very rarely equaled in the United States. It’s great with a wide variety of winter foods like roasted meats, game, root vegetables, and more.

It’s a beer that I would be very proud of if I brewed it myself.

Samichlaus Schwarzes

Samichlaus Schwarzes
Samichlaus

Aaron Uhl, owner of Uhl’s Brewing in Boulder, Colorado

ABV: 14%

Average Price: $21 for a four-pack

Why This Beer?

What flavors make it great? Big, bold, hints of dried fruits and toffee that are usually only found in stouts and other complex strong ales are layered into this beer. Samichlaus Schwarzes is an amazing example of thinking outside the box to use what you have available to make one of the tastiest winter warmers around. Not to mention there are two other varietals to shift between throughout the cold months.

KCBC Morbid Hour

KCBC Morbid Hour
KCBC

Alex Wenner, owner and brewer at Lasting Joy Brewery in Hudson Valley, New York

ABV: 4.6%

Average Price: $13 for a 16-ounce can

Why This Beer?

KCBC’s Morbid Hour is the only answer to this question. Ever since they opened, KCBC has been making some insane and amazing giants in flavor in the realms of stouts, IPAs, and fruited sours. But Morbid Hour is, to me, one of their crowning achievements.

Perfectly understated, a crushable, crisp, and clean lager with just the right notes from roasted malts that lend notes of dark chocolate, coffee, and bitterness that creates the perfect beer to drink all day around a fire pit surrounded by several feet of snow.

New Glarus Two Women

New Glarus Two Women
New Glarus

John Clampitt, lead brewer at Sun King Brewery in Indianapolis

ABV: 5%

Average Price: $9 for a six-pack

Why This Beer?

New Glarus’ Two Women is my favorite beer right now. It’s simplistic in its construction. Its floor-malted German barley and Hallertau hops are about all that’s in it, but it is greater than the sum of its parts. The floor-malted barley gives a different expression of that bready, German barley. The Hallertau hops provide just enough bitterness and noble hop aroma to round it out.

I always ask for a few twelve-packs anytime someone I know is in Wisconsin.

Wibby Double Dunkel

Wibby Double Dunkel
Wibby

Derek Gold, director of brewing operations at WeldWerks Brewery in Greeley, Colorado

ABV: 7.5%

Average Price: $11 for a six-pack

Why This Beer?

Wibby Brewing’s Double Dunkel is the lager equivalent of hot chocolate. Bittersweet chocolate, roasty coffee, and vanilla notes with a nutty maltiness round out the whole affair. You can enjoy it on the slopes, but I prefer it next to a fire with a book.

Little Machine Sir Veza

Little Machine Sir Veza
Little Machine

Kayleigh Schutte, assistant brewer at Our Mutual Friend Brewing in Denver

ABV: 5.3%

Average Price: Limited Availability

Why This Beer?

I’m a sucker, no matter what season it is, for Little Machine Beer’s Sir Veza. It’s a Mexican-style lager with the best sweet touch of corn. This beer is light but doesn’t get the super light feeling of other Mexican lagers.

Be sure to get a lime, but don’t squeeze all of it in the beer.

Mainstay Klaus Bock

Mainstay Klaus Bock
Mainstay

Jeremy Cowan, owner and founder of Shmaltz Brewing Company in Clifton Park, New York

ABV: 10.5%

Average Price: Limited Availability

Why This Beer?

Mainstay Independent in Philadelphia brews an amazing Klaus Bock with beautiful malt notes throughout. It’s a classic lager with a smooth body, and, of course, all from a fantastic brewer with tons of years of lager experience in an iconic American lager town.

Ayinger Celebrator

Ayinger Celebrator
Ayinger

Shaun O’Sullivan, co-founder and brewmaster at 21st Amendment Brewery in San Francisco

ABV: 6.7%

Average Price: $13 for a four-pack

Why This Beer?

I always expect this beer to have a higher ABV with all that flavor. But that’s not the case with this very respectable 6.7 percent ABV beer. This doppelbock has a deep brown color and a rich malt structure with aromas of dried currants, vanilla, cracker bread, and sweet flavors.

Half Acre Fader

Half Acre Fader
Half Acre

Erika Wojno, US director of marketing at BrewDog in Columbus, Ohio

ABV: 5%

Average Price: $12 for a six-pack

Why This Beer?

Fader from Half Acre is my pick. But I’m not just drinking it in the winter, I’m drinking it all year round. I have a total beer crush on everything about this Chicago brewery. This beer is crisp, refreshing, and loaded with biscuit-like malts and citrus notes.

Bierstadt Dunkel

Bierstadt Dunkel
Bierstadt

Patrick Ware, co-founder and head of brewing operations at Arizona Wilderness Brewing Co. in Phoenix, Arizona

ABV: 6%

Average Price: Limited Availability

Why This Beer?

Bierstadt does an incredible job making highly drinkable lager worthy of chugging in half-liter glasses. Bready-toasty malt drives the intrigue while still having a background hop presence to balance.

East Rock Black Lager

East Rock Black Lager
East Rock

Jack Hendler, co-owner of Jack’s Abby Craft Lagers in Framingham, Massachusetts

ABV: 6.2%

Average Price: $11 for a six-pack

Why This Beer?

Black Lager from East Rock Brewery is the perfect beer for winter. It’s dark, malty, and full-bodied. It’s one of those beers that warm you up when it’s cold out. It’s nice and clean, relatively easy-drinking beer on the stronger side — just above six percent.

Wiseacre Tiny Bomb

Wiseacre Tiny Bomb
Wiseacre

Luis G. Brignoni, founder of Wynwood Brewing Co. in Miami

ABV: 4.5%

Average Price: $12 for a six-pack

Why This Beer?

I’ve been traveling to Tennessee often and I’ve really enjoyed Tiny Bomb from Wiseacre. It’s a Pilsner and you really get to appreciate the consistency and quality that the brewer puts into it. Pilsners are very delicate to brew and with Tiny Bomb you get a nice balance between the malt crispness and the use of hops.

It’s very good, not just for winter but year-round.

Roy Pitz Ludwigs Revenge

Roy Pitz Ludwigs Revenge
Roy Pitz

Dess Leeper, sales representative at WeldWerks Brewing in Greeley, Colorado

ABV: 5.25%

Average Price: Limited Availability

Why This Beer?

When I first helped a friend out with some general things during the infancy of Roy Pitz back in 2009, the beer that they made that always grabbed my attention was a rauchbier. The beer itself was based on the local history of a town being burned down during the Civil War. They made a beer that has a history intertwined with local and international traditions that truly make this beer unique. When I sip it, I think of sitting by a campfire in the snow, smelling pleasant smoke and bacon. Rauchbiers — or smoked beers — have flavors that you don’t always find in beer, and, for me, it is one of the best beers this time of year.

Spaten Optimator

Spaten Optimator
Spaten

Andrew Hood, wood cellar manager and brewer at Sun King Brewery in Indianapolis

ABV: 7.6%

Average Price: $12 for a six-pack

Why This Beer?

My favorite winter lager would be Spaten Optimator. It is a classic Doppelbock and well-executed. You can’t go wrong with this beer. It has warming flavors of toffee, caramel malts, and dried fruits that make it exceptional on a cold winter’s night.

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