Indeed Brewing Company Dandy Lager

When I first really got into beer, I went through that phase of seeking out ever more intense flavor experiences. I craved the big hoppy ales, the oddball ingredients, the blackest of black stouts. Then one day that all changed. I just wanted a pilsner.

I remember two moments in that transition very clearly. The first came in 2007 at my first trip to the Great American Beer Festival. Midway through one of two sessions – I was almost certainly a bit buzzed by this time – I had had enough of the hops and booze. I craved something lighter to clear my palate. I searched the hall without much luck. Then I hit the Trumer Pils booth. At that moment, it was the elixir of my soul.

The second was a year later in 2008. I was doing an extended project in St. Louis and had hooked up with a local homebrew club. I was being shown around some local beer spots, again focusing on the monster brews. As we were crossing the Mississippi into Illinois I said to the others in the car, “I just want a pilsner.”

I have lived for German lagers ever since. They are my wheelhouse. Crisp, clean, and non-palate-wrecking, they are the beers I love most. As I have written and said many times in many venues, pilsner is the perfect beer. A really good one is a thing of beauty.

The current revival of sessionable beers has brought with it a revived interest in German-style lagers. If you scan the store shelves today, you’ll find that many well-respected brewers of often-extreme beers are putting out a pilsner. Hell has become one of Surly’s biggest sellers. Even American-style lagers are seeing a craft-beer comeback. I’ve died and gone to heaven.

Dandy Lager from Indeed Brewing Company is one such beer. I got some. I drank it.

Here’s my notes:

DayTripper_6packDandy Lager
Indeed Brewing Company, Minneapolis, Minnesota
Style: Pale Lager
Serving Style: 12 oz. can
5.4% ABV
40 IBU

Aroma: Medium pils-malt sweetness with moderate, corny DMS. Low floral/spicy hops with a light, tangerine overtone.

Appearance: Light gold and clear. Full, creamy, white head with excellent retention.

Flavor: Slightly malt forward. Pils-malt toast and light corn. Medium-low sweetness. Bitterness is medium. Floral and black pepper hop flavors with a hint of citrus or peach. Subtle lemony high notes. Finish is off-dry with lingering floral/citrus hops and light residual bitterness.

Mouthfeel: Medium to medium-light body. Medium carbonation.

Overall Impression: A lovely, sunny lager. A bit hoppy for a Munich helles, not quite malty enough for a Bohemian pilsner, and not quite dry and bitter enough for a German pilsner. They call it a pale lager. I can live with that. Whatever it is, it’s delicious. It can take me a while to get through a sixpack of a given beer. This one was gone in a matter of a few days.

Schell’s Arminius Hoppy Pale Lager

Not known for aggressively hopped beers, Schell’s has been playing with hops a lot lately. First was the Citra Fresh-hop pilsner. Then there was Emerald Rye, a most IPA like amber lager. The Pilsner 30th Anniversary 12-pack had a version of the great Schell’s Pils hopped with Mandarina Bavaria hops – a new variety from Germany. Now comes Arminius, a 70-IBU, massively dry-hopped pale lager.

As a fan of traditional German-style lagers, I take this trend with mixed emotions. On the one hand it’s good to see Schell’s trying new things. On the other, there really is nothing like a good pilsner.

Here’s my notes:

August Schell Brewing Company, New Ulm, Minnesota
Style: Hoppy Lager
Serving Style: 16 oz. can
6.5% ABV
70 IBU

Aroma: Lime citrus and spice overlay doughy malt. A deeper hop note of mandarin oranges or dried mango hovers beneath. Balanced. Bright. Sprightly.

Appearance: Medium gold and brilliantly clear. A full stand of fluffy, white foam with excellent retention.

Flavor: Assertively bitter, but balanced. Although hops dominate the flavor profile, malt is not forgotten. Citrus – lime and lemon. Floral. Dried tropical fruits. Underlying, bready malt flavors with medium-low sweetness. The finish is dry and sharp. Crisp and clean.

Mouthfeel: Medium body. Medium to medium-high carbonation.

Overall Impression: This is a hoppy beer that I can really wrap my tongue around. It’s lively, refreshing, and very easy to drink. Despite 70 IBUs, it doesn’t tax the tongue. Hoppy enough for IPA fans, but lager-like enough to satisfy the likes of me.

Lager Beers

The January Meeting of the Twin Cities Perfect Pint Beer Club

When: Friday, February 12, 2010 NEW DATE!
Cost: $25
You must be a member of the club to attend. Go to the Twin Cities Perfect Pint Beer Club to join and RSVP.

I often hear people (even beer geeks) saying, “I don’t really like lagers.” I say this is poppycock! Don’t be fooled by the mass produced, pale-yellow brew commonly called “Lager Beer.” The only thing differentiating lager from ale is the yeast.

The world of lagers is a rich, varied, and flavorful one. While the so-called American Lagers are part of the family, beyond these lie beers for people who want something more. The light colored lager styles include the boldly bitter Bohemian and German Pilsners, the maltier Munich Helles, and the balanced Dortmunder Export. There are the amber colored Vienna and Märzen styles and the smooth, black, and malty Schwarzbier. Then there are the Bocks. From the summery Maibock to the sumptuous Doppelbock, these beers display intensely rich toasted malt that fills the mouth without being cloying. And it wouldn’t be craft beer without the outliers, those experimental beers that defy categorization.

At this meetup we’ll sample a mind-blowing array of bottom fermented brews. We’ll shatter your mega-brew induced preconceptions of lager. You’ll laugh. You’ll cry. You will never again be able to say, “I don’t really like lagers.”

Lager haters on RateBeer

I thought this was an interesting post about the current craft brewing craze of (or at least the beer geeks infatuation with) ever bigger, hoppier, oakier, and boozier beers at the expense of delightfully subtle lagers. I have been arguing in favor of balance for some time and have garnered the undeserved title of “hop-hater” (albeit often in jest).

The followup comments are also of intereste.

Lager Night

Lager NightThe theme for the April meeting of my monthly “let’s try to taste every beer in the world” beer tasting group was lager. For many, the thought of “lager beer” conjures up images of the pale yellow American style lagers that have become the accepted standard for beer the world over. While those beers do occupy a disproportionate amount the worldwide shelf space, they represent only a small corner of the entire lager universe. Lager styles go from the super light American “Lite” beer to the richly caramel and high alcohol Doppelbock, with a stop at every color and flavor along the way.

The main thing separating a lager beer from an ale is yeast. Lager beers are fermented using what is known in the biz as a “bottom fermenting” yeast, so called because the yeast forms colonies on the bottom of the fermentor instead of at the top as ale yeasts do. Lager yeast also likes to ferment at colder temperatures than ale yeast. This limits the production of fermentation by-products that influence beer flavor and aroma, leading to the characteristic “clean” taste of a lager. Prolonged cold storage after fermentation also enhances this by allowing the yeast to slowly clean up after itself. Another defining characteristic of lager yeast is the ability to ferment trisaccharides, longer chain sugars that ale yeast cannot ferment. The ability to ferment additional sugars leads to a dryer beer, the “crispness” that many people associate with lagers.

For our monthly meeting the only assignment was to bring lagers. It didn’t matter where they were from, how Lager Nightmuch they cost, or what the quality was. They just had to be fermented with a bottom-feeding yeast. In all, sixteen beers were tasted and commented upon ranging from a 2% ABV German light beer to the 10% ABV Human Blockhead from the Shmaltz Brewing Coney Island line. We sampled beers from the US, Germany, Austria, Belgium, and even Wisconsin.

There were a lot of great beers represented here. It’s difficult to pick standouts from the bunch. One of my favorites was Midnight Session Lager from Port Brewing in California. The bottle describes this as a Schwarzbier, but it’s really much too roasty to fit that label. The aroma resemble nothing so much as the burnt old-maids at the bottom of a bowl of popcorn, something I love. The flavor was all roast, with huge Beersel Lagerchocolate and coffee character, but none of the astringent bitterness that often comes with big roasted beers. The only possible flaw was a startlingly quick finish. Whatever you want to call it, I would seek this beer out again. Another favorite and perhaps the most “interesting” beer of the night was the Beersel Lager from Drei Fonteinen in Belgium. Drei Fonteinen is mostly known for their fine sour beers and lambics. The Beersel Lager is lager as you would expect a lambic brewer to make it. It is a cloudy, light bodied beer that starts out bitter but sweetens mid-palate. Nice flavors of light stone fruit and fibrous plant are rounded out by a funky, brettanomyces tinged, dry finish. Also worth mention was the Hacker-Pschorr Kellerbier, a cloudy golden colored beer with a creamy mouthfeel and bready/fruity flavors. The surprise of the night was the Mahr’s Bräu Leicht. At just 2% ABV this little golden lager packs in a ton of malt and hop flavor. It was tasty and you could drink a lot of it in a session without any serious consequences.

While I really can’t say that there were any bad beers in the mix, there were a couple of disappointments. One of these was the Blond Doppelbock from Capital Brewing in Wisconsin. Many of us had tasted this beer in the past and liked it, so this may have been an old or mishandled bottle. Whatever the case, we found it to be flabby, sugary, and full of banana and sulfur flavors and aromas. Also unfortunate was the Kapsreiter Landbier from Austria. Another Kellerbier, this one could not compare to the Hacker-Pschorr example. We found this to be underattenuated and worty, with honey and raw sugar being the dominant flavors. There was very little bitterness to counter the sweetness. One person described this beer as “under-carbonated Duvel.” A final disappointment was the Sam Adams Imperial Series Doppelbock. While not a bad beer, the consensus was that it was “definitely imperial.” The nice caramel malt and spicy hop were marred by a hot and solventy alcohol. And then there was the Mickey’s Malt Liquor……….And then there was the Mickey's Malt Liquor...

The beers tasted were New Glarus Bohemian Lager, Bell’s Lager of the Lakes, Hacker-Pschorr Kellerbier, Kapsreiter Landbier, Beersel Lager, Schlenkerla Helles, Flying Dog Dog Schwarz, Mahr’s Bräu Jubelfest, Mahr’s Bräu Leicht, Mendocino Brewing Company Bock Beer, Capitol Brewing Blond Doppelbock, Sam Adams Imperial Series Doppelbock, Port Brewing Midnight Sessions Lager, Coney Island Human Blockhead, Sam Adams Winter Lager, and Mickey’s Malt Liquor. Those in attendance were Michael Agnew, Tom Graybael, Gera Exire LaTour, Joel Stitzel, Jonathan Crist, and Paul Dienhart.