Beer Style Definition- Light Lager

Light Lagers-

STYLEOGFGABV%IBUCOLOR SRM
Lite American Lager1.030-400.998-1.0083.2-4.28-122-3
Standard American Lager1.040-501.004-104.2-5.18-152-4
Premium American Lager1.046-561.008-124.7-6.015-252-6
Munich Helles1.045-511.008-124.7-5.416-223-5
Dortmunder Export1.048-561.010-154.8-6.023-304-6

Light American Lager

Great tasting and less filling, but difficult to brew.  These beers feature such a low residual body that balancing the hops can be a tightrope walk.  Extract brewers are especially challenged since the color of most extract is past the target for this beer.  Brewers of these beers  rely on adjucts like rice or corn to ensure complete fermentaiton and light body.  Aroma should have no malt, hops, or esters.

Grain brewers will want to use primarily 6 row pale, with 20-40% flaked rice or corn.  Extract brewers will find light DME (dry malt extract) their best tool.  Do not overuse cane sugar as it will lend cidery flavors to the finished product.  Either Noble hops or their American cousins are good choices, Saaz, Willamette, Halertauer.  But be sure to select one with low bitterness units (IBU’s) or this can easily turn too bitter.  Also beer careful to gently boil the wort, a rigorous boil can easily impart undesirable color and caramel flavors.

Standard American Lager

Still very light and clean, standard lager allows for a little more color and malt flavor.  The most consumed beer style in the United States, this is the beer populating store shelves from the biggest brewers.

Still use 6 row pale malt with 10-30% rice or corn, or if extract brewing use all light or extra light DME.  A very samll amount of caramelization in the boil is acceptable.  For hops, Wilamette or Tettnang are good American varieties, with Saaz being a good choice from the beer that gave rise to American Lager: Pilsner.  But only use them early in the boil as the aroma of this beer should not present hops or malt character.

Premium American Lager

Slightly darker and more malty, American premium is primarily represented by small craft bewers across the country.  While some products from the big brewers will add caramel color to achieve the darker look, most do not offer any additional hop or malt flavor and aroma expected from the style.

While adjucts can still be used, this beer is best made from 100% pale malt extract or 6 row barley.  2 row malt traditionally does not have enough diastatic power to fully convert starches to sugars, but newer varieties can be used.  The goal is to have low malt and hop aroma, medium body, and slight malt and hop flavor.  But fermentation should still be clean leaving no esters, diacetyl, or yeasty aromas.

Munich Helles

From the Bavarian regions of Germany, this beer has more body than its American couterparts but is still very light in color and cleanly fermented.  Long cold storage will ensure a good outcome.  The beer should have medium body and hops flavor, and some hops aroma is good.  While fruity esters should be avoided, a small amount of diacetyl is acceptable.

In addition to pale malt or malt extract, Munich malt should be used for additional color and body.  This beer is traditionally brewed using a decotion mash, but adding some dextrine malts to the mash will accomplish nearly the same effect and save hours of work.  Stick with the Noble hops varieties, using for bitterness and flavor.

Dortmunder Export

Named for their birth city of Dortmund, Germany, these beers are crisp and sparkling in the glass with subtle but present noble hops aroma.  While no fruity esters or diacetyl should remain after fermentation, a medium body from residual unfermentables is acceptable.  A medium bitterness is desired, finishing with sweet malty after taste.

Pale malt, preferably 6 row, should make up at least 80% of the malt, with the rest being Munich and/or Vienna malts.  Dextrine is a good add for body.  Stick with the noble hops here; Hallertauer, Tettnanger, or Saaz.