The Summer of 2018 will be remembered for many things. We cheered on the England football team in this year’s World Cup truly believing that it was “coming home”. We also had the Royal Wedding and to top it all off we had one of the hottest summers on record in the UK. But helping to celebrate all that there was one particular beer style that was on everybody’s lips, lager! I, like a lot of others this summer, have craved the light, clean and crisp taste of a cold pint of lager. In the Cask Report 2018, lager accounted for 65% of on-trade sales in the UK making it the most popular beer style in the country. This is mostly thanks to the macrobreweries but they have also given the style a bad reputation amongst beer lovers. Like many other people, macro lager was the very first style of beer I tried but back then I didn’t drink it to savour it. As I started trying different beer styles I admit that I did get put off from lager, finding it was a bit bland and overly carbonated. However this year I have discovered that more breweries are producing their own versions of lager to a much higher standard. One brewery who have led the resurgence of quality lager are Bristol based brewers Lost & Grounded, who since starting in 2016, have produced one of the most talked about lagers this year with their Keller Pils. When I tried this lager it completely changed the way that I perceived the style and has become a go to beer for me on numerous visits to their brewery as well as at home with their cans becoming a fridge staple. When I saw that BeerBods were doing The Lager Box 2018, championing some of the UKs best interpretations of the style, I knew I had to snap one up.
Inside the BeerBods Lager Box there was a selection of 15 lager styles from a range of British breweries, some well known and others who were new to me. A few of my highlights I enjoyed included Vocation’s Yakima Pilsner and Stroud Brewery’s Light Organic Lager (LOL) both of which were really light, crisp and refreshing which is just want you want from this style of beer. One of the beers that surprised me was Summer from ShinDigger which was packed full of fruity watermelon flavour. This was really refreshing and very sessionable, perfect for lazy summer days or BBQs! There were also some great crowd pleasers in the box, most notably Magic Rock’s Dancing Bear, Thornbridge’s Lukas, Tiny Rebel’s Boho and the infamous Lost & Grounded Keller Pils, all of which would be my ‘go to’ lagers. Whilst working my way through the box I did find that one or two of the beers reminded me of macrobrewery versions however I felt that this has been a great display of British lager and can’t wait to try other brewery’s versions of this underrated style.
To finish off my summer of lager I took a trip to Berlin with my partner to drink the beer style close to its original source. Lager was first produced by the Germans in Bavaria in the early 19th century and the name is derived from ‘lagern’ (meaning to store). It didn’t take long walking around Berlin to find classic German lager. As well as going to bars and beer halls around the city you can also buy lager at street food stalls, which is where I found myself trying Berlin’s famous sausage dish – Currywurst. Whilst in Berlin I went into a couple of traditional beer halls (Hofbrӓu and Augustiner) who were serving a range of lagers as well as Märzen, a style traditionally brewed for Oktoberfest which can be read more about here. It was hard not to order a litre stein of lager especially when the weather was unexpectedly sunny with temperatures of 25℃ in October! There is no style of beer that you would think about ordering in litre measures except for lager. I thought that the larger measures would mean you wouldn’t have to order more beer too frequently, particularly in a busy beer hall! However I found that it is interesting to taste how the flavour changes as it warms up, much like how we serve lager in tall glasses in the UK and other parts of Europe.
Lager is very accessible style of beer which is noticeable when you go out with a group of friends as the experience of drinking it can be shared. Quite often I find when I go out for a beer as a group we will all order something different and we treat the beers like Pokémon, trying to taste them all. But if we see L&G Keller Pils is on the menu we all order pints and drink it together. In my view this year has seen the revival of lager with more breweries tackling the style and making it their own. Lager has come a long way from the macro styles I used to drink as a teenager and it has definitely changed my perception of this beer. Now that autumn is upon us and the nights draw in we will look to darker beer styles for comfort, but we will always remember the summer of 2018 as the year of the lager!