Yesterday on Twitter I asked “Would you rather live in a world without ales or lagers?” and the vast majority of replies picked—although reluctantly—lagers. It’s easy to forget that lagers go well beyond the light and premium varieties. Märzens, bocks, pilsners, Munich dunkels, Dortmunders and schwarzbiers are all in there, too. And don’t overlook the hybrids, like SweetWater Road Trip, a blonde that’s fermented with pilsner yeast at warmer ale temperatures, and then given a kick in the ass with spicy hops.
But even within the framework of the more familiar American lager varieties, there’s room to experiment. New Belgium Shift is one of my favorites: It’s got a crisp, clean lager finish and a body that’s packed with floral, citrusy hops (including a hefty dose of berrylike Nelson Sauvin hops). Colorado Native Lager, brewed at MillerCoors’ AC Golden Brewing is another cool one: Every ingredient in this amber lager’s grown in Colorado—all it needs is an indigenous yeast strain to qualify as one of these.
Another question I’ve been curious about is whether there’s a point at which a high ABV begins to dissuade the average consumer from purchasing a beer: In short, do you have a personal limit on ABV? Answers, of course, have varied. Some people say “the higher the better” while others don’t like drinking anything over 8-percent. For me, it depends on the beer. If I’m going for an imperial IPA, like the resinous, citrusy and spicy Great Lakes Rye of the Tiger (a 7.5%-ABV IPA brewed with rye) or the palate-crushing, orange-and-caramel-packed Old Dominion Double D (90 IBUs, 9% ABV), then bring it on.
But, not everything has to come under the scrutiny of random Twitter questions. We’re entering into the season of whimsical fruit beers and they’re best enjoyed with little questions asked. Shiner Ruby Redbird, brewed with Texas ruby red grapefruit juice and ginger, pleases the palate with each playful, biting sip. SanTan Mr. Pineapple (one of my favorite beer names) takes a more subtle approach: Hints of tropical pineapple juice thread through the wheat beer base, giving the impression of a wheat wine that’s scaled way back to session level.
There’s always more beer in the DRAFT fridge to sample, as well as a never-ending stream a questions to ask. For starters: What beers are you enjoying at the moment? Let me know in the comments, or tweet me your favorites at @DRAFTbeereditor.