Let's talk about lagers!
Three of them, in fact. Lager is essentially a German term meaning "cold storage." Technically, it's a process, not a style: resting a beer just above freezing temperatures for an extended period of time. Whereas ales can be ready to serve within ten days of hot-side brewing, a proper lager takes at least three weeks of, well, lagering, to be a true lager. Often much longer.
As you probably already know, lagers are:
- on trend, in large part because the beer world is wanting a break from crazy big flavors,
- difficult to make, because they showcase a brewer's true abilities (providing no room to hide flaws by loading a beer with hops or adjuncts),
- a labor of love, because easy-drinking beers are perceived as lower-cost. Combine this with the long storage time (opportunity cost of brewing quicker-turning beer) and you can easily see why brewers choose to make ales instead of lagers.
We've been brewing lagers since our very beginning, including the late-lamented-ish Fullsteam Southern Lager and a beer that has made it through thick (literally) and thin: Carver. I say thick because Carver's 200+ pound sweet potato grain bill has been a beast to work, particularly in our early days as we learned how to brew with sticky, starchy puree. Along the way, with discipline and focus, and continuous improvement, we've made this beer better and better (no beer is truly perfect; the quest is to perpetually inch closer toward perfection). Referring back to the bullet points above, Carver is difficult to make and a labor of love, and we're glad to see that lagers are on trend. We're here, waving hello. Know what I'm saying? We've applied our lagering lessons learned to two new beers -- interestingly, both with straight-forward names: Brett Lager and Autumn Lager. Like Carver, these are draft-only offerings right now (though Carver cans will return mid-to-late October). I know this is long, so I'm giving quick descriptions in bold to both of these beers:
- Brett Lager -- with its mixed-culture yeast -- is tart and a little farmhouse/funky, but clean, crisp, and bond dry.
- Autumn Lager is 99% local (everything but the hops) with a nutty, slightly malty grain bill featuring North Carolina barley, triticale, and malted corn.
This is what we do. Well-structured, creative, outrageously local beer. We opened our business with nearly half of our beer portfolio as lagers. Trends aside, we're still doing it now. We'll maintain a mix of a balanced beer portfolio as long as good folks like you support our mission to build a Southern Beer Economy -- and our vision to brew delicious, unique, gimmick-free plow-to-pint beers.
I'm proud of these three lagers, old and new -- and the Fullsteam brewing crew who has, over the years, made Carver better and better. I'm proud of our new Director of Beverage Operations, Erik Myers, whose very first Fullsteam beer is Autumn Lager.
Our friends at Mason Jar often say "Lager is Life." I dig that. I'd proffer, "Lager is Pride." Not as catchy, I know. Not great for a hat. But there's a quiet pride that comes from crafting a good lager. And, to extend the metaphor, there's something personally rewarding about chilling for an extended period of time.
For local beer,
Sean Lilly Wilson
for Fullsteam Sales & Service
p.s. I'm all buzzed up on Little Waves Ternura coffee this morning and, frankly, I like what I just wrote. Don't be surprised if this content shows up as a journal entry or a Facebook post geared toward the general public. You're still very special to me. :)