By Gail Oberst and Will Oberst-Cairns
What beers do women like? “Whatever men like,” said one woman, raising her glass of beer. However, one thing is clear. The women who gathered at the BeerMongers in Portland recently have strong opinions about lagers. To celebrate the Oregon Beer Growler’s annual “Women in Brewing” issue, the monthly tasting focused on the opinions of women consumers – specifically, members of the Ladies of Lagers and Ales group. The LOLAs were given blind tastes of 12 Oregon lagers, and then asked to pick their favorites. In addition to choosing their favorites, each woman taster was asked to describe the beer in a fun way, listing where, how or with whom she’d like to drink it, what kind of music she’d listen to while drinking it, or other comments that steer away from stuffy language.
It is a fun and enlightening routine we at the Oregon Beer Growler repeat each month, featuring a different kind of Oregon beer. For May, we assembled Oregon lagers – a wide variety of beers defined by yeasts, which gather at the bottom of the brew while fermenting in generally cooler temperatures, and take from six weeks to six months to finish.
After that broad definition, everything else is open to interpretation. In Oregon particularly, that appears to be an invitation to push the envelope. While most associate lagers with light colors and light bodies, Oregon lagers express the wide range of the world’s lagers, with the something-something that each brewer brings to the glass. Some of those tasted by LOLAs were toasted and dark, some are hardly hopped, some heavily.
Following are the LOLA’s choices for Oregon’s best lagers, and their comments.
Heater Allen Pils, McMinnville 4.9% ABV, 36 IBUs
Brewer’s Description: This is our take on the renowned Bohemian-style lager that you might find in Bavaria or the Czech Republic. Ours is a little more golden, rounder and more malt-driven than many other versions. This beer has a strong hop character that is balanced by its rich, round, malty palate.
Consumer Comments: “Sitting on the beach with the sun on my fat eyes, loving this lager.” “Clean, easy drinker for a day on the river.” “Great for outdoor activities.”
Lucky Lab Puppy Love Toasted Lager, Portland 3.8% ABV, 38 IBU
Brewer’s Description: Brewed for brewer Ben Flerchinger’s marriage to Margaret Lut, this lager is made with two-row pale and Vienna malt with added wheat, maize, and oats for body. The black and chocolate malts create the dark color and toasty taste. Hops are Galena, Fuggle and Summit.
Consumer Comments: “This would be great when a stout is too heavy.” ”Good hot tub cigar beer.” “Smokey roasty flavor.” “Great with a brot, sauerkraut and hot mustard.” “Breakfast beer!”
Falling Sky Light Pillar Czech Pilsner, Eugene 5% ABV, 26 IBUs
Brewer’s Description: A light pillar is an optical phenomenon caused by the reflection of light from ice crystals in the atmosphere. Pilsener is the original clear, pale lager first brewed in Bohemia (now part of the Czech Republic) in 1842. Czech Pilseners are less bitter with more malt sweetness than their German counterparts, featuring complex aromas of malt and spicy-floral hops from the traditional Czech Saaz hops. This crisp and refreshing lager will take you to the sky, and that’s no illusion.
Consumer Comments: “Yummy in my tummy.” “Halloween night and a big bowl of chili.” “Tastes like something I would drink at a Cubs game.” “Hippity-hop my bunny love.” “I could drink this all the time any time.”
Stickmen Lone Palm Lager, Lake Oswego 5.9% ABV, 31 IBU
Brewer’s Description: Named after the solitary palm tree in front of the brewpub, this Dortmunder-style (German) export lager stands alone as well. It is full of flavor and has a modern twist with crystal finishing hops.
Consumer Comments: “This beer would be great to drink on a hot day while doing yard work or working outside.” “Great taste in the mouth, my tongue feels refreshed.” “Sweet sassy sunshine, so bright my eyes hurt.” “Love the fresh crisp citrus taste.”
Kells Irish Lager, Portland 4.4% ABV, 18 IBUs
Brewer’s Description: This light lager is inspired by the German helles-style lagers. The beer is light and refreshing with a mid-mouth that has pleasant sweetness and mild fruit esters. Just a hint of tartness helps bring out its Irish flair. This beer finishes dry, crisp, and clean.
Consumer Comments: “This is a great all-day drinking beer for days I’m camping or homebrewing or both. “It’s light and refreshing.” “I want to sit in the river drinking this beer while throwing a stick for the dogs to fetch,” “Makes me want Mexican food.” “Backyard BBQ beer, with a classic cheeseburger, corn on the cob and baked beans.” “Drink it while throwing a Frisbee for the dog on a hot day.”
Omission Lager, Portland 4.8% ABV, 20 IBUs
Brewer’s Description: A refreshing and crisp beer, brewed in the traditional lager style. Perfect for a variety of beer drinking occasions, Omission Lager’s aromatic hop profile offers a unique easy-drinking craft beer for those looking for a lighter and approachable beer style.
Consumer Comments: “Great picnic beer with cheese plate.” “Easy to drink more than 4 of these without noticing.” “Nice and sparkly.” “A Sunday afternoon beer.” “Smells and tastes like I’ve just mowed the lawn.” “A good lawn mower beer.” “This is a great beer for a crowd of beer drinkers that like different kinds of beers — this is a nice, normal beer.”
Burnside Brewery Couch Select Lager, Portland 5% ABV, 14 IBU
Brewer’s Description: This Helles-style lager was brewed with quality pilsner malt, German Tettnanger hops and is fermented with a Bohemian lager yeast. Cold fermentation produces a nice crispy snap to a beautiful malt flavor and subtle hop presence. Best to drink this in large quantities with cheeseburgers, helles yeah! This beer, unlike most Burnside beers, is filtered.
Consumer Comments: “This goes well with Thai food.” “I’d drink this with my nephew to teach him good craft beer doesn’t have to be heavy.” “Really drinkable.” “Summertime watching the ships roll in.” “I can imagine drinking this beer on an all-day kayak trip.” “This would be great on a late summer golfing round on an easy par 4 course on a muggy summer night.”
Oregon Beer Growler each month invites consumers to “blind” taste a different style or group of beers at various locations across the state.