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The Most Refreshing Pale Lagers To Crush This Summer, According To Craft Beer Experts

In some circles, the term “pale lager” seems to have gotten a bad rap. If ever there was a legitimate reason for that, it was the style’s association in the minds of many with mass-produced beers from giant, soulless conglomerates — often brewed with un-crafty “adjuncts,” like corn syrup.

If anything, the pale lager’s only crime was being popular enough to be co-opted. The pale lager is a style that has been around forever, prized for its clean, fresh, crisp, often times dry, slightly hopped character. They’re generally brewed with Pilsner malts and noble hops, but some (as mentioned above) do contain adjuncts like corn, rice, flaked wheat, and other ingredients. Pale lagers — including the infamous although sometimes highly refreshing and crushable adjunct lagers — also include pilsners, helles lagers, Dortmunder Export, bocks, and other varieties. They’re also perfect for summer due to their refreshing, easy-to-drink flavor profile.

And since we’re in the business of helping you up your beer game, we went to the professionals for assistance once again. We asked a few well-known craft beer experts and brewers to tell us their picks for the most refreshing pale lagers to drink this summer. They chose old-school European, classic American staples, and craft interpretations in almost equal measure, meaning you have no excuse for not having a cold crispy boy within easy crushing distance this pool season.

Narragansett Lager

Narragansett Lager
Narragansett

Nancy Lopetegui, taproom general manager at Wynwood Brewing in Miami

ABV: 5%

Average Price: $6.50 for a six-pack of 16-ounce cans

Why This Beer?

Narragansett Lager is my go-to pale lager. You can never go wrong with a classic. Clean, crisp, refreshing, and perfectly balanced — if it was good enough for Quint in ‘Jaws’, it’s good enough for me on a hot summer day.

Trumer Pils

Trumer Pils
Trumer Pils

Jeremy Marshall, brewmaster at Lagunitas Brewing in Petaluma, California

ABV: 4.9%

Average Price: $8.50 for a six-pack

Why This Beer?

Trumer Pils. This is an outstanding American representation of a fine European lager and fulfills in every way. You just can’t go wrong, and it transports you to Europe so well I can’t believe that it’s made in the Bay Area. It’s crisp, with a slight kiss of green apple, slight bread, slight but enjoyable amount of sulfur—all balanced in a neat ester package that wraps up in that authentic lager-y profile with just the right amount of noble hops and expensive malt.

Green Bench Brewing Bench Life

Green Bench Brewing Bench Life
Green Bench

Dan Esperon, owner and brewer at Crazy Dingo Brewing Co in Fort Myers, Florida

ABV: 4.6%

Average Price: Limited Availability

Why This Beer?

Bench Life, brewed by Green Bench Brewing. Dry, drinkable, and can be put down one after another. Brewed with malted barley, flaked corn, and Mount Hood hops, it’s the crisp, fresh, summertime beer you crave on a hot, steamy day.

Zero Gravity Green State

Zero Gravity Green State
Zero Gravity

Matt Canning, assistant manager and beer concierge at Hotel Vermont in Burlington, Vermont

ABV: 4.9%

Average Price: $9.99 for a four-pack of 16-ounce cans

Why This Beer?

We do not put pale lager in a box. Warm weather, cold weather no weather for the love of lager. Our favorite is Zero Gravity Green State Lager poured from our side pull Lukr Faucet. It’s crispy yet soft with that wet foam. It’s hard to beat the crisp, refreshing flavor on a hot, sunny day.

Hopfheiser Old Time Lager

Hopfheiser Old Time Lager
Hopfheiser

Jeff Hancock, co-founder and brewmaster at DC Brau in Washington DC

ABV: 4%

Average Price: Limited Availability

Why This Beer?

I love this question. It’s a new entrant to the DC brewery scene, but my pick is Old Time Lager, brewed by the Hopfheiser Brewing Company. The highly quaffable, no-frills, approachable American Light Lager has everything I’m looking for. Great malt backbone, subdued hops, and a super light body with light carbonation allows me to savor or chug this new offering. If you haven’t had it yet, go get some. As Old Time’s saying goes ‘Anytime is a good time for an Old Time.’

Miller High Life

Miller High Life
Miller

Justin Tisdale, head brewer at Rejects Brewing Co. in Middletown, Rhode Island

ABV: 4.6%

Average Price: $6.50 for a six-pack

Why This Beer?

While this may be unconventional for a craft beer article, I’d have to rely on my brewers’ sensibilities here and go with Miller High Life. While this may be sacrilegious to a lot of people, any brewer will tell you that most of their favorite beers are beers they don’t have to think too much about outside the brewery. When I’m outside the brewery, it’s fairly easy to find me with a champagne-of-beers pony bottle.

Hill Farmstead Mary

Hill Farmstead Mary
Hill Farmstead

Courtney Servaes, owner of Servaes Brewing Company in Kansas City

ABV: 4.6%

Average Price: Limited Availability

Why This Beer?

Lagers may seem like easy beers to brew, but the reality is that while they are easy to brew, they aren’t necessarily easy to brew well. The best Pilsner I’ve ever had is Mary by Hill Farmstead Brewery. It’s brewed with German pilsner malt, German hops, and German lager yeast and it’s super crisp and clean.

Pilsner Urquell

Pilsner Urquell
Pilsner Urquell

Mike Kelly, senior brewer at Harpoon Brewery in Boston

ABV: 4.4%

Average Price: $9.99 for a six-pack

Why This Beer?

Pilsner Urquell has a history of being one of the best pale lagers in the world. The first of its kind, this pilsner is iconic for its pronounced ester profile and clean, soft malt body. It’s also crisp, thirst-quenching, and perfect for summer drinking. It’s the first pilsner and it’s arguably the best.

Brockton Frederick and Main

Brockton Frederick and Main
Brockton

Dan Lipke, head brewer at Clown Shoes Beer in Boston

ABV: 4%

Average Price: Limited Availability

Why This Beer?

Brockton Beer Frederick and Main is a great American light lager that’s super refreshing. Pale in color and only 4% ABV so you can refresh yourself with more than one. Light malty toastiness with only a hint of hops, it finishes dry and clean. Fresher and slightly fuller tasting than macro brewery versions, it’s a fantastic crispy lager.

North Park Birdie to Bogey

North Park Birdie to Bogey
North Park

Chris Pinns, tasting room manager at Societe Brewing in San Diego

ABV: 5.4%

Average Price: $17 for a four-pack of 16-ounce cans

Why This Beer?

North Park Beer Co. Birdie to Bogey. A West Coast-style Pilsner. A clean, light body backed by a hefty dose of bright, citrusy west coast hops. What’s not to love? It just might be the perfect summer pale lager.

Radeberger Pilsner

Radeberger Pilsner
Radeberger

Marshall Hendrickson, co-founder and head of operations at Veza Sur Brewing Co. in Miami

ABV: 4.8%

Average Price: $8.99 for a six-pack

Why This Beer?

Radeberger Premium Pilsner is hard to beat. This beer is a quintessential German Pils to me, light and refreshing with some great Noble hop flavor and aroma. It goes great with food or if you want to knock back a couple on a warm day. It’s a wonderful beer.

Grain Belt Premium Lager

Grain Belt Premium Lager
Grain Belt

Ty Nash, head brewmaster at Little Dry Creek Brewery in Denver, Colorado

ABV: 4.6%

Average Price: $10.99 for a twelve-pack

Why This Beer?

Grain Belt Premium. This is my favorite “cheap” beer and it is coveted in my house. It all goes back to a trip to North Dakota 20-plus years ago where I was desperately searching for a beer that wasn’t served in a can and happened upon it in a dive bar in Grand Forks. From then on, I’ve been hooked. The malt character is slightly higher than most Pilsners, lending to a fuller body that is more in balance with the hops. Unfortunately it’s not available in Colorado, so I have to rely on friends to obtain it.

Victory Prima Pils

Victory Prima Pils
Victory

Daryl Hoedtke, senior brewmaster at Goose Island Beer Co. in Chicago

ABV: 5.3%

Average Price: $9.99 for a six-pack

Why This Beer?

Victory Prima Pils is my favorite pale lager. Beautiful floral, citrus and a spicy hop aromas jump out of this beer. Clean malt and a firm bitter backbone make this beer crisp and drinkable. Keeps me going back for more.

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