What is a Lager?

Bottom fermentation is a process used to make the beer variety known as lager.

This method’s yeast ferments at lower temperatures and congregates at the fermentation tank’s bottom. As a result, the beer is crisper, cleaner, and less fruity than ales, which are prepared to utilize top fermentation.

The most popular form of beer in the world is a lager, which is made up of numerous well-known brands like Budweiser, Coors, and Miller Genuine Draft.

The variety of lagers available, including pilsners, bocks, and Märzens, shows that the style is far more varied than these well-known brands. Each variation of lager has a distinct flavor character that makes it enjoyable on its own or when coupled with a wide range of various dishes.

Despite their widespread appeal, lagers are frequently disregarded by beer connoisseurs in favor of ales with greater complexity.

However, a well-made lager can often be a superior option for individuals seeking a light, refreshing beer because it can be just as delicious and enjoyable as any ale. Lagers are definitely worth discovering, whether you’re an experienced beer aficionado or just looking to try something new.

What is a Lager?


Lager is a type of beer that is brewed using bottom-fermenting yeast at low temperatures.

This results in a crisp and refreshing beer that is light in color and highly carbonated. Lagers are the most widely consumed and commercially available style of beer in the world, and they come in a surprisingly diverse range of styles.

Some of the most famous lagers include Budweiser, Coors, and Miller Genuine Draft, but the style goes far beyond those big names.

Other types of lagers include amber lagers, Märzen, Vienna lagers, and dark lagers such as Dunkel and Schwarzbier. The alcohol content of lagers can vary widely, from 2.5% ABV for light lagers to over 10% ABV for strong bocks and eisbocks.


The history of lager beer can be traced back to the 15th century in Bavaria, Germany. At that time, brewers began storing their beer in cool caves during the summer months to prevent spoilage.

This process, known as “lagering,” allowed the beer to ferment slowly and develop a smooth, clean taste.

In the centuries that followed, lager beer became increasingly popular throughout Europe and eventually spread to other parts of the world. Today, lagers are brewed on every continent and are enjoyed by beer lovers everywhere.


There are many different styles of lager beer, each with its own unique characteristics. Some of the most popular styles include:

  • Pale Lager: This is the most widely consumed and commercially available style of beer in the world. It is light in color and highly carbonated, with a crisp and refreshing taste.
  • Amber Lager: This type of lager has a slightly darker color and a slightly sweeter taste than pale lagers. It is often brewed using Vienna or Munich malt and has a slightly higher alcohol content.
  • Märzen: This is a traditional German lager that is brewed in the fall and served during Oktoberfest. It has a rich, malty flavor and a deep amber color.
  • Vienna Lager: This style of lager originated in Vienna, Austria, and is characterized by its reddish-brown color and slightly sweet, malty taste.
  • Dark lager: This type of lager is brewed using dark malts and has a rich, full-bodied flavor. Some examples include Dunkel and Schwarzbier.

Brewing Process

The brewing process for lager beer differs from that of ale beer in several key ways. Lagers are brewed using bottom-fermenting yeast, which means that the yeast sinks to the bottom of the fermentation vessel during the brewing process. This is in contrast to ale beer, which is brewed using top-fermenting yeast.

Lagers are also brewed at lower temperatures than ales, which results in a slower fermentation process. This slower process allows the beer to develop a smoother, cleaner taste.

Finally, lagers are typically carbonated using a process called “spunding,” which involves allowing the beer to natural carbonate in the keg or bottle.

Food Pairings

Lagers are versatile beer that pairs well with a wide range of foods. Some popular food pairings include:

  • Light lagers: These pair well with spicy foods, such as Mexican or Thai cuisine.
  • Amber lagers: These pair well with grilled meats, such as burgers or steaks.
  • Märzen: This beer pairs well with hearty, German-style foods, such as sausages and sauerkraut.
  • Vienna lagers: These pair well with Mexican cuisines, such as tacos or enchiladas.
  • Dark lagers: These pair well with rich, hearty foods, such as stews or roasts.

Overall, lager beer is a popular and versatile style of beer that is enjoyed by beer lovers all over the world.

Whether you prefer a light, refreshing pilsner or a rich, full-bodied Dunkel, there is a lager out there for everyone.

Lager Brewing Process

Lager beer is a type of beer that is brewed using a bottom-fermenting yeast strain called Saccharomyces pastorianus.

The brewing process for lagers typically involves a longer fermentation period and a period of cold storage, known as lagering. In this section, we will discuss the ingredients, fermentation, and lagering process involved in brewing lager beer.


The ingredients used in brewing lager beer are similar to those used in brewing other types of beer. They include water, malted barley, hops, and yeast.

However, the types of hops and yeast used in lager brewing are often different from those used in ale brewing.

In general, lagers tend to be less hoppy and have a more subtle flavor profile than ales. The most commonly used hops in lager brewing are noble hops, such as Saaz hops, which are known for their low bitterness and floral, spicy aromas.


The fermentation process for lagers is different from that of ales. Lager yeast is a bottom-fermenting yeast, which means that it ferments at cooler temperatures and settles at the bottom of the fermentation vessel.

The fermentation process for lagers takes longer than that of ales, typically lasting between one and three weeks. During this time, the yeast consumes the sugars in the wort and produces alcohol and carbon dioxide.


After the fermentation process is complete, the beer is typically stored in cold storage for a period of time, known as lagering. This process can last anywhere from a few weeks to several months, depending on the style of beer being brewed.

During lagering, the beer undergoes a secondary fermentation process, which helps to smooth out the flavors and produce a more refined, crisp taste. The cold temperatures also help to clarify the beer and remove any remaining yeast or other particles.

Overall, the lager brewing process is a complex and time-consuming process that requires a great deal of skill and attention to detail. However, the end result is a delicious and refreshing beer that is enjoyed by beer lovers around the world.

Lager Styles

Lagers come in a wide variety of styles, from light and refreshing to dark and complex.

Here are some of the most popular lager styles:

Pale Lagers

Pale lagers are the most common type of lager and are characterized by their light color, crisp flavor, and high carbonation.

They are typically brewed with bottom-fermenting yeast and are often made with adjuncts like rice or corn to lighten the body and flavor. Some popular examples of pale lagers include Budweiser, Coors, and Miller Genuine Draft.

Dark Lagers

Dark lagers, also known as Dunkel or Schwarzbier, are brewed with darker malts and have a richer, more complex flavor than pale lagers.

They are still bottom-fermented like other lagers, but the darker malts give them a deeper color and more pronounced flavors of chocolate, coffee, and caramel. Some popular examples of dark lagers include Negra Modelo and Shiner Bock.


Bocks are a type of strong, malty lager that originated in Germany. They are typically brewed with a higher alcohol content than other lagers and have a rich, full-bodied flavor with notes of caramel and toffee. Some popular bock styles include doppelbock, maibock, and eisbock.

Vienna Lagers

Vienna lagers are a type of amber lager that originated in Austria. They are brewed with a combination of pale and caramel malts and have a slightly sweet, toasty flavor with a smooth finish. Some popular examples of Vienna lagers include Dos Equis Amber and Negra Modelo.


Pilsners are a type of pale lager that originated in the Czech Republic. They are brewed with bottom-fermenting yeast and a specific type of hops called Saaz hops, which give them a distinct floral aroma.

Pilsners are typically light in color and have a crisp, refreshing flavor with a dry finish. Some popular examples of pilsners include Pilsner Urquell and Czechvar.

Overall, lagers are a diverse group of beers with a wide range of styles and flavors. They are typically characterized by their bottom-fermenting yeast and crisp, refreshing flavor.

Lagers are often served cold and pair well with a variety of foods, from grilled meats to citrusy salads. Whether you prefer a light and refreshing pilsner or a rich and malty bock, there is a lager style for every taste and occasion.

Please drink responsibly, be fully accountable with your alcohol consumption, and show others respect.

Written by Rocco

Rocco is a Florida State University alumnus with years of bartending and hospitality experience. From slinging hundreds of vodka sodas a night in jam-packed college bars to serving carefully crafted cocktails in upscale restaurants, there’s not much he hasn’t done behind a bar. Now, Rocco shares his knowledge and passion for all things alcohol-related here on My Bartender for bibulous readers everywhere to enjoy.

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