For the Love of Lager

Robyn Bursey


Picture this… it’s 30+ degrees, the sun is blazing down from a bright blue sky completely devoid of clouds, and slight breeze is shifting through the air.  The birds are singing, the bees are buzzing; summer is in full swing, and in celebration you reach for your ice-cold… stout? I don’t think so!

Hot temps call for crushable beers, and for most of us that means something crisp, light and easy drinking.  Whether that means a dry, hoppy pilsner with a clean finish or a smooth, water crackery lager, there’s a little something for everyone.

But, what makes a lager, a lager?  A lager is a beer made using bottom-fermenting yeast (Saccharomyces pastorianus, a yeast that sinks to the bottom of the fermenter instead of floating on the top, as ale yeasts do), and fermented and conditioned at cooler temperatures, creating the lagers signature crispness.  It also means that a lager may be any colour of the beer rainbow, from pale straw to deep black, as long as it has been brewed in this way. Pilsners, Schwarzbiers, Dunkels, Märzens and Bocks… all lagers!

Here are some of our favourites to keep you cool during the hot summer months:

Jasper Brewing Crisp Pils, Jasper, AB - $14

This little beer from the Bear Hill family of breweries (think Banff Ave, Wood Buffalo, Last Best, etc.) was originally brewed for Canada’s 150th birthday, and has quickly become a province-wide favourite.  It’s light, but not thin, refreshing and crushable. Crisp Pils also boasts the tiniest hint of toasty notes, just to keep things interesting. Available in both 6-pack cans and 15-pack cans; it’s a backyard BBQ’s best friend!

Occidental Brewing Pilsner, Portland, Oregon - $16

Occidental’s take on the pils is wonderfully Bohemian in style - which is to say, it’s their take on the good ol’ Pilsner Urquell, the original Bohemian Pilsner.  This fresh offering from one of North America’s top craft beer cities uses the classically earthy Czech Saaz hop as their beer’s crowning glory. Much to the pleasure of the sipper.

Tofino Brewing Dark Lager, Tofino, BC - $10

Tofino Brewing’s Dark Lager is one for those who love that roasted-malt flavour profile, but still want something refreshing enough to enjoy in the deep summer heat.  Dark Lager is more like a smooth iced Americano than the roasty chocolate-bomb stouts and porters that provide a similar flavour profile.

Freehold Brewing Co. Big Chutes Lager, Calgary, AB - $17.50

Even without a formal brewing space to call their own, Freehold is creating some seriously good beer.  Big Chutes is one of their two core beers in production at this time, and is a prime example of just how flavourful a lager can be.  It’s floral, it’s fruity, it’s damn delicious.