American Lager

Our American Lager is beautifully golden and easy drinking, effervescent with honey suckle and a spritz of lemon and pear. We add corn for a touch of sweetness to this buoyant brew, a crafty twist on a simply smashable American classic. Tasty with burgers, light pastas, grilled chicken and breezy sundecks.

ABV 5.0%

IBU 15

FLAVOR PROFILE

Crisp, Smooth, Beer Flavored Beer

AVAILABILITY

Limited

INGREDIENTS

Malt

Gambrinus Pils, CMC Superior Pilsen

Hops

Perle, Tettnang

Yeast

Lager

Adjunct

Corn Grits

History

The Rise of Pilsner and Arrival to the Americas - Craft Beer and Brewing - Drew Beechum

Back to the timeline of brewing—the Bavarians figured out the trick of lagering. Then in the early 1800s, they adapted British pale-malt techniques and created the first pale lagers. Then in 1842 one of them, Josef Groll, rolled out the world-drinking phenomenon that was Bohemian Pilsner beer. Just before that, in 1840, another Bavarian, John Wagner, left for the opportunity-laden streets of Philadelphia with lager yeast in tow. His brewery didn’t last, but he gets the shaky credit of being the first lager brewer in America.

As in many subsequent waves of immigration, entrepreneurs set up businesses bringing the comforts of familiar shores to their homesick neighbors. Naturally, this meant for the Germans and Bavarians, they needed some beer—now.

At the time, America’s drinking scene was still highly centered on pale ales, porters, ciders, and whiskey/rum. As German immigration spread—so did the breweries that brought the lager beers from home. But …

When gustatory delights are transplanted from foreign shores, inevitable transformations occur due to a lack of familiar ingredients. Beer is no different. When German brewers hit America, they ran afoul of a few things. Our hops were radically different—very catty and berry (e.g., Cluster), not at all delicate and spicy. Our temperatures were obnoxious. But the worst was our barley. Dominated by 6-row barley, American malt was rough stuff—small kernels with too much husk, too much protein, too much harshness. What could a brewer do with such unsubtle and downright hostile conditions?

There’s only one answer—adapt. Brewers took a look at these pitiful local (cheaper) ingredients and made pseudo-German lagers.

The key was adjuncts. If the problem was largely too much malt protein and tannin making harsh beers, then eliminate the malt. Replace the starch provided by the barley with a starch that doesn’t have the high protein.

In the United States, that meant using abundantly available corn and rice. Both grains provide plenty of starch and sugar and very little else. The result was clearer, cleaner-tasting beer.

Okay, small lie—corn almost always provides a lasting sweetness, and rice provides a hint of sweet that dries out to a crisp finish. Compare Busch (corn) and Budweiser (rice) to see the difference in the same brewery.

Using whole corn and rice requires a bit of extra work in the brew day—an American Cereal Mash. To make the starches in corn and rice available to barley enzymes for conversion, you must destroy the protective structure they hide in. To do that, you make a porridge by boiling the mass, cool it down to the 150s°F (65–71°C), start the conversion, heat it back up, and add that to your main barley mash.

You may have figured out that that’s a lot of work to get free starches into your wort. Brewers today have other options such as steamed and flaked grains, extracts, or even the now-infamous syrups of ad-campaign lore.

Regardless what advertising and years of microbrew lore would have you believe, adjuncts are not inherently evil. Initially, they weren’t used because they were cheaper. In fact, at least prior to acquisition, the most expensive ingredient in Budweiser was their special rice variety.

To achieve a flavorful purpose, all a brewer needs to do is use adjuncts thoughtfully. Forgetting that dictum got American brewing into trouble because brewers focused on using adjuncts to save pennies.

Needless to say, those who cracked the formula of American barley produced a massive winner—drier, less-filling, more drinkable (because less bitter and less flavorful) beer. They created something perfect for the sweaty American climate. But nothing gold can stay, and trends inevitably happen.

pFriem’s American Lager is a tribute to the tradition it came from, and gives a nod toward the modern American industrial Lager. Yet it is brewed using the highest quality hops, barley, and corn, with proper brewing and Lagering techniques in true pFriem fashion.

Tasting Notes

Ultra-bright topped with pillowy white foam. Soft aromas of wildflowers, a spritz of lemon, clean malt, cherry blossom, and pear. Fresh flavors of masa harina, biscuits, honey suckle, lemon pound cake, and beer flavored beer. Finishes soft, smooth and spritzy for easy drinking.