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Bartenders Name Their Favorite Classic Lagers and Pilsners For Summer ’21

Lager and ale are the two broadest beer definitions in all of brewdom. Beneath each of those umbrella terms, you’ll find dozens (maybe hundreds) of lager styles and ale styles derived from brewing traditions developed all over the world. We’re going to focus on lagers today and include the lager sub-style, pilsner (a pale lager).

Pilsner was born in the 1800s in the Bohemian town of Plzeň thanks to the work of the Bavarian brewer Josef Groll. Groll was instrumental in inventing the pale lager — specifically Pilsner Urquell — that eventually took the world by storm, helping make lagers the most drunk beers in the world, by far. Sorry IPA stans: the numbers aren’t even close.

To help you find a good lager (including pilsners today) to drink this summer, we’re asking some bartending pros. Hopefully, their recommendations will help you fill your coolers and fridges this summer with tasty suds to set you up for the season. You can click on the prices to try each of these yourself (that is if you haven’t already).

Oskar Blues Mama’s Little Yella Pils

Oskar Blues

Demetrëa Dewald, lead bartender at Bar Mateo at Zinc Café in Los Angeles

ABV: 4.7%

Average Price: $10 (six-pack)

Why this Beer?

Many pilsners fall flat, but Mama’s Little Yella Pils does not disappoint with notes of grass, lemon, and a clean dry finish. It is the perfect beer for a bright sunny day no matter what time of year. Plus, you got to love the clever name.

Bierstadt Lagerhaus Helles

Bierstadt

Candace Marie Peterson, beertender at Lone Tree Brewing in Lone Tree, Colorado

ABV: 4.9%

Average Price: $11 (four-pack)

Why this Beer?

You can’t answer a question about lagers without showing love to Bierstadt Lagerhaus. Most people will talk up their Slow Pour Pils, which is delicious. But for me, their Helles is the shining star. It’s a perfectly balanced, beautiful golden lager with a slight sweetness and just enough hops to have you craving more. I recommend getting a boot of it when there.

Coors Banquet

Coors

Sarah Kemp, beertender at Living The Dream Brewing in Littleton, Colorado.

ABV: 5%

Average Price: $8 (six-pack)

Why this Beer?

Do I dare say Coors Banquet? Growing up in Colorado, it’s my staple go-to when I want something light, easy, and refreshing or while enjoying a Rockies game.

Krombacher Pils

Krombacher

Hayden Miller, head bartender at Bodega Taqueria y Tequila in Miami

ABV: 4.8%

Average Price: $10 (six-pack)

Why this Beer?

If I’m drinking a lager or pilsner, I pour one in particular. Krombacher Pils is tradition in a bottle. It’s light, crisp, and has a hint of florals on the finish.

Weihenstephaner Original Lager

Weihenstephaner

Alex Tack, bartender at Rex 1516 in Philadelphia

ABV: 5.1%

Average Price: $12 (six-pack)

Why this Beer?

I can’t really think of anything that fits the bill better than Weihenstephaner’s lager. That answer isn’t likely to be a revelation to anyone since Wiehenstephaner is the world’s oldest brewery. Regardless, I think their staying power speaks for itself. They do the best demonstrations of every Bavarian style. Drinking any of their beers is like eating a perfectly cooked steak: the quality is from its sourcing and the practiced care with which it’s handled.

Stone Buenaveza

Stone

Cari Hah, formerly bar manager at Café Alcove in Loa Angeles

ABV: 4.7%

Average Price: $11 (six-pack)

Why this Beer?

My pick is Stone Buenaveza. This is a classic Mexican style lager that is really refreshing, light, and crisp. It has a body without being heavy with a really nice acidity that makes it entirely quaffable all year round.

Busch Beer

Busch

Andy Printy, beverage director at Chao Baan in St. Louis

ABV: 4.3%

Average Price: $10 (12-pack)

Why this Beer?

My favorite classic lager has to be a Busch 16-ounce tallboy. It’s crisp, light, and full-bodied. There has nary been a scenario, venue, or season where this workhorse lager isn’t a very appropriate choice.

Pilsner Urquell

Pilsner Urquell

Juan Fernandez, bartender at The Ballantyne, A Luxury Collection in Charlotte

ABV: 4.4%

Average Price: $9 (six-pack)

Why this Beer?

Pilsener Urquell is a beautiful golden pilsener that is still brewed in its country of origin in the traditional way. You can drink this beer all year round with food or friends, but it’s especially refreshing in summer. It always tastes good, features fresh hops, a creamy texture, and a dry finish, which is enough to keep your mouth a little bit dry, but with a lingering freshness.

Victory Classic

Victory

Zachary Sjodin, bartender at Coastal County Brewing Company in Pensacola, Florida

ABV: 4.8%

Average Price: $10 (six-pack)

Why this Beer?

I’m not much of a lager drinker, but the Classic Easy Drinkin’ lager by Victory is pretty darn good. It’s 4.8 percent alcohol, well-balanced, and refreshing.

North Coast Scrimshaw

North Coast

Brandon “Habi” Habenstein, bartender at The Kitchen & Bar at Bardstown Bourbon Co. in Bardstown, Kentucky

ABV: 4.5%

Average Price: $11 (six-pack)

Why this Beer?

Scrimshaw Pilsner from North Coast Brewing Company is the lighthouse for the pilsner. The European pilsner itself is the quintessential beer for drinkability, striking the perfect balance of weight — not too heavy or light. It’s liquid bread. An introduction of sweetness from the malts is kept in check by those classic European hops. Drink it all year long. Support your local breweries and then drink a Scrimshaw to remind yourself how your local beer scene is doing.

Stella Artois

Stella Artois

Freddy Yanez, bartender at Unreserved Beer Garden in Orlando

ABV: 5.2%

Average Price: $18 (12-pack)

Why this Beer?

Stella Artois is well known for its freshness. It also provides a crisp and clean finish that makes it really easy to drink no matter the occasion or the season.

Writer’s Pick: Jack’s Abby Post Shift Pilsner

Jack

ABV: 4.7%

Average Price: $11 (four-pack)

Why this Beer?

What’s better than a beer after a long day or work? Jack’s Abby literally created a beer you’re supposed to crack open when your “shift” ends. Made with Bavarian malts and hops, it’s light, crisp, and perfect for the end of a long, hot summer day.


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