I’ve always enjoyed good lager. Properly made it is unquestionably one of the great styles and deserves its world fame.
Unfortunately, the mass market in recent decades has turned largely to thin starchy beers, i.e., with high adjunct, low hops, and low attenuations – c. 1008 I’m told. I’m sure this pleases many, while leaving fans of a more traditional palate looking for something else.
But there are still many good beers, both within the mass market and certainly the craft field. Also, sometimes a particular recipe just pleases, it may be down to the yeast used, a particular hop or malt, or some other indefinable attribute of brewing. In this sense, brewing is still an art and can’t be reduced to formulas objectively deciphered.
This beer is made in a small brewery in Etobicoke in the GTA, its main line is not craft-oriented but it makes a lot of beer under contract, which is.
If you get it very fresh, Cool Lager, draft or bottle, is an excellent beer in the traditional Canadian style. It’s got decent malt and hop notes with a snappy finish. I like it after long walks or bike rides. The glass shown was ordered in a small bar out on Danforth quite a bit east, I had been on foot for a few hours and happened to stop there. Excellent choice for those who like the established Canadian lager profile.
Ace Hill Pilsner
This beer is very German in taste. I had very similar beers in Germany a few years ago. It’s got a mineral note from the Noble hops and a dryish malt characteristic. The yeast too is obviously European and is said to derive from Augustiner (see the company’s website). I drink this half-chilled as this brings out its best qualities.
I like it too because there is no sulphide flavour, the yeast is German but does not have the over-boiled egg taste so many European lagers have. (This is sometimes called hay-like or grassy in reviews, even skunky where the taste is misconstrued for damage by light). It’s a beer that goes well with food.
This tastes different to me at different times. Sometimes I get DMS in it, sometimes not. This one didn’t have any, so yay. It’s a little sweet with the adjunct in place but not obtrusive. Like Cool it’s well-made and while many other beers use similar materials, they just don’t taste as good. As I’ve often said, equal flavour intensities don’t mean the sensory qualities are equal. Something medium in palate impact can taste great, or not, same thing for something with high palate impact or mild impact.
This is good, lightly sweet, light honey-gold in hue, firm hopping which the label indicates is Noble hops. There is a citric note though that seems North American. I wonder if the hop bill includes an American hop, or maybe an American variety grown in Germany. But it’s everything a craft lager should be while not tasting like any others out there.
This is a newish release from Hop City, the craft brewing arm of Moosehead. It’s got a firm grainy taste, on the dry side but with plenty of flavour and traditional lager hopping (cutting but neutral, what I call mineral in these notes). I feel I can taste wheat in the finish though and it’s not a taste that recommends itself to me. Wheat is an ingredient according to the label and I tend to puzzle over this as traditional lager – by which I mean blonde lager in its inception in Bavaria and Bohemia – was all-barley malt. I don’t think the wheat is needed, myself, and prefer the profile of all-malt beer.
I didn’t include an image because everyone knows what Beck’s looks like. Body light but gains from all-malt, hops are surprisingly strong and well-interleaved in the taste. That German minerality again. But the aftertaste goes awry IMO, a cooked or veg note (not DMS). Perhaps it’s the pasteurization as I notice a similar effect in other imports.