The following is a guest post from Beer Search Party's Sean Inman. Please join us for Summer Camp w/ Sean Inman on Sunday 6/9 to experience a specially curated Summer beer tap-list by Sean. One of what you could call the “founding” documents of our craft beer revolution, our Magna Carta, so to speak, was written all the way back in 1972. And it wasn’t about dry hopped IPA’s (those were years away from creation). It wasn’t about high ABV barrel aged Russian Imperial Stouts. It wasn’t about any new trendy craft beer style. It was simply called “A Treatise on Lager Beer” by Fred Eckhardt.
Flash forward 41 years later and you can find festivals of every stripe and color. Belgian? Yes. Barley Wines? Yes. From sour beers to fruit beers, every style has had their day in the proverbial sun. And yet the beers that best accompanies a hot Los Angeles day, your pilsners and Kolschs’ and helles lagers don’t seem to get much love. Despite the fact that they are technically harder to make and take longer to age correctly and that one of the most pre-eminent beers in Los Angeles is the 1903 Pre-Prohibition style lager from Pasadena’s Craftsman Brewing.
That is why, when the opportunity arose to partner with Beer Belly, the first idea that popped into my head was a day devoted to the lighter side of beer. But that meant that I also had to define what I meant by “light beers”. They sometimes go by the name Session beers or if you are feeling verbose, Fancy Lawnmower beers but for me they are generally lower in alcohol and generally simpler. An XPA can qualify as long as it is an XPA and not stealth Pale or IPA. Saisons, wheat beers and the like can also qualify as long as they are not too alcohol heavy. But when I think of “light”, the styles I think of are pilsners, lagers, helles and the Kolsch.
The flagship beer for a light beer event (in my humble opinion) is Trumer Pils. This beer was originally just made in Austria and now it is also brewed in Berkeley. It is simple and unadorned with bells and whistles like specialty coffee or Feijoa (whatever that is).
The second reason that I want to focus on the lighter beers is to take back what is ours. Industrial beer has put such a stigma on lagers and pilsners that it is hard for even the world’s best to be rated fairly. Trumer has an anemic score of 37 out of 100 on the RateBeer site. To me that score is a good 37 points lower than it should be solely because; I believe it gets dinged for being a pilsner. To get even deeper into the statistics, its score adjusted to its style category is 73! That means it is an above average pils but compared to everything else it is horrible.
I want to change peoples’ minds about these beers. And I know it can be accomplished because America craft beer geeks have re-embraced cans even though they were considered outré and the tools of the Bud Devil to make into bow tie shapes. To me, part of the joy of craft beer is the ability to have a hefeweizen on Monday, a Double IPA on Tuesday, a Belgian sour on Wednesday and so on. Lighter beers should also be part of the craft beer calendar.