Artisan lager taste test
My buddy Dan and I checked out a few of the more artisan lagers out there. Some impressed, others held true to their routes and were relatively typical lagers that even a devout lager boy would enjoy.
The difference between lager and ale, other than taste, comes from the yeast and how it’s used during the brewing process. Ale is the older brewing technique and employs a warm fermenting process that creates a frothy top during production (top fermented) and lager is brewed at cooler temperatures with yeast coming from the bottom.
This craft lager taste test spans Europe, with the lagers tested taking us on a journey; from Sweden to Belgium with Italy, Scotland and England in the middle.
Winner: Nils Oscar - God lager (5.3%) – Sweden
God Lager will take you to “a hay barn in the summer when it hasn’t rained for a while and you can almost taste the dryness in the air”. I wouldn’t go that far, but, God Lager kicks off with fruity barley notes before an ample hoppy bite takes over the flavour sensors. A well rounded lager with ample flavour to keep me happy. The classic styling of the label also looked pretty good and helped make this craft lager stand out.
Runner up: Mongozo Premium Pilsner (5%) - Belgium
Purchased whilst on a recent trip to the city of Bruges, Mongozo is a Double Gold Winner of a World Beer Award for Best gluten-free lager. Mongozo is a fairly subtle tasting beer, more of a nice stroke rather than a smack of flavour. It had a good balance of sweet and bitter and was definitely a contender for top spot in this flavour test. Serve me this cold on a warm summer's day and I will be as happy as a duck sat in a pond on a rainy day.
Joint third: Double Walt Gran Reserva, Peroni (6.6%) - Italy
The Peroni Gran Reserva is pretty smooth, you can just about taste the barley, but you won’t be tasting too much hops in this one. Not horrible and ideal if your want a strong lager, I think it would make an excellent shandy. If I'm being absolutely honest, I think I'd prefer a bottle of normal Peroni.
Joint third: St Mungo (4.9%) – West brewery - Scotland (Glasgow)
With all the sales spiel and awards adorning the bottle I had really high hopes for St Mungo. This lager is the only UK lager to have won a Gold Award at DIG German Beer Awards. With flavours not akin to a bottle of Becks it was perfectly okay to drink. Did the hype on the label raise my expectations? Yes, in fact probably too much, I was slightly disappointed. Once I got over my disappointment, not a bad lager.
Joint third: Camden Hells Lager (4.6%) – Camden Town Brewery - England
Another lager that deserved a third place, though if I was giving prizes for label design the Camden Hells Lager would probably get one. Noticeably lighter in colour than the other lagers on test. Not much initial flavour, though a hoppy flavour built and lasted for a good length of time in the aftertaste. I think Camden Hells Lager would work really well with strong flavoured food such as spicy bar snacks, spicy chicken wings or a hot curry.