This is the first lager beer I’ve posted about. Not because I don’t enjoy or like lagers, but rather we just don’t get a whole lot of them in Hawaii. Sure, there are a handful of great German lagers available year round, but I’m really interested in stuff made domestically. Lager beers got lost in the initial rush of craft beers with so many breweries focusing on big and bold ale styles. I couldn’t be more happy to see craft breweries starting to focus on brewing excellent lagers because they are just so damn enjoyable.
It takes a bit more commitment from a brewery to brew and sell lagers. First, the turn around time on lagers is a bit longer than ales, so it costs breweries more to make them. To make a really good lager it requires weeks of cold conditioning, where an ale can be bottle in less than 2 weeks from brewing. Second, there is still some negativity around the term lager because of it’s association to big macro beers like Miller, Coors, Budweiser, etc. Hopefully as people gain access to more quality made lagers they will realize there is a big difference between a mass produced American Light Lager and a well crafted German Pilsner.
That leads me to Anchor Brewing’s California Lager. I won’t shy away from saying I love this beer and I’m very glad we get it in Hawaii. This beer started as a seasonal release in the Zymaster series in 2012 and got such a favorable response they decided to make it a year round offering in 2013. There is a very cool story about the creation of this recipe on the Anchor site.
California Lager is similar to a German style Pilsner, just with slightly less hop bite. It pours a beautiful crystal clear golden pale with shimmering little bubbles raising from the bottom of the glass. This beer just looks good in a glass. There is a great balance of crisp toasted bread and slightly floral hop aromas. The reason I enjoy lighter lager styles like this is because they are so full of flavor, yet they are crisp, light on your palate and easy to drink. There is no one flavor that dominates in this beer. With each sip, you get a full array of malty, bready flavors that are quickly followed with an assertive floral, spicy hop bitterness. All of this flavor is packed into a beer that is only 4.9% abv.
You don’t feel like you are sacrificing flavor for a light easy drinking beer with this. Now only if they’d put this in a can so I could take it to the beach (or on a boat if I was ever on one!) This is a beer worth trying and I can only hope we see more of it.