Beers are a bit like movies: there’s a lot of different types. In fact, the current Brewers Association guidelines list approximately 152 different styles of beer.
So saying you’re a beer lover but only like American-style IPA is a bit like saying you like movies, but only Sandra Bullock rom-coms. There’s a plethora of other great beers out there, and lagers are one of them.
Some IPA lovers think all lagers are bland and watery, and made by “evil” corporate machines. But there are also good-quality, small-volume lagers on the market.
Lagers are refreshing in hot weather and match many summery foods such as seafood and white meats. Plus, there’s less palate fatigue, as they have lower bitterness and alcohol levels.
Try the following great local lagers (and a cider) on a hot afternoon.
Pikes – Pilsener
Starting off with an aroma of light malt and straw, the Pikes Pilsener is beautifully clear and crisp. The pilsener style of lager exhibits a sharper bitterness than standard lagers, and this crisp hop profile lingers on the tongue along with herbal hop flavours. This 4.5 per cent ABV (alcohol by volume) beer is completely smashable out of the 330ml boutique bottle, or you can pour it into a decent tall pilsener glass and enjoy a refined tasty bitter beer.
Food match: The bitterness would overwhelm mild seafood like tuna sashimi but it’s ideal for washing down Jamaican jerk pork sliders. Use this refreshing beer to put out the Habanero fire.
Prancing Pony – Indie Kid Pilsener
An unfiltered but fairly clear-looking beer. It’s not that big on aroma, with some subtle marzipan, but has plenty of grainy flavour to compensate. The bitterness is brash and upfront while the malt stays fairly subdued apart from some husky flavour. Slightly higher carbonation gives a dryer finish. 4.8 per cent ABV in a 330ml stubbie.
Food match: This husky malt and firm bitterness would match well with deep-fried panko-crumbed Spencer Gulf prawns. Try some Grunds XXX Chilli sauce with them for an extra kick.
Pirate Life – Port Local Lager
From the brewers who love their hoppy IPAs comes a surprising new lager. This beer still punches out a heap of flavour, with Vienna malt adding some honey and the malt profile in general being balanced but fairly big for a lager. The 4.5 per cent ABV 355ml can delivers a more mouth-filling version, with spicy and floral flavour and aromas from Spalt and Perle hops. It also pours crystal-clear with a darker hue and a big puffy lingering head.
Food match: Try this with a quality seafood pizza. Make sure it has all the trimmings including anchovies. This beer deserves big seafood flavours.
Swell – Lager
Pours with a slight haze and a great, long-lasting head. There’s a tinge of green in the beer, which suggests a decent amount of late hopping. The lager has nice spicy aromatic hops, a definite citrusy hoppy bite that’s very enjoyable, and a nice crisp finish and bright hop aftertaste. A very nice 4.5 per cent ABV beer from a 330ml can. Some classic floral lager characters mixed with modern citrusy hop aromas and flavours.
Food match: The citrusy hop component would match well with an orange and fennel salad with cured salmon.
Mismatch – Lager
Pouring crystal-clear and light in colour, this beer smells bright and fresh, light and floral, with a hint of green grass. Such a clean, light mouthfeel. The hops have added a nudge of bitterness but also a really fresh dash of grassy fresh herbs, with only a hint of citrus peel. It’s really enjoyable drinking. And at 4.5 per cent ABV, the Mismatch Lager is light enough in body to smash down served ultra-chilled from the 330ml can, but it’s also worthy of decanting into a tall glass and really savouring.
Food match: Pan-fried flathead with a good dash of pepper or chilli, and a light salad. Simple flavours would go well with this straight-up beer.
David Franz – Golden Scrumpy
OK, it’s not a beer but sometimes you need something sweet and fizzy. Forget that Moscato and have a go at this damn tasty alternative. It’s a mash-up of white wine and crisp juicy apple cider, made from 42 per cent whole golden delicious apples from Forest Range in the Adelaide Hills, 33 per cent Eden Valley Semillon and 25 per cent Barossa White Frontignac, basket-pressed and co-fermented. These 6 per cent ABV 330ml bottles of deliciousness have earned the nickname of “little assassins” because they can creep up on you. The huge apple flavour is crisp and tastes like real apples.
Food match: Barossa winemaker Dave Lehmann, the man behind the David Franz label, suggests the food match of “spit-roasted whole pig. Because you can drink half a slab cooking it – goes awesome with pork and you end up with a whole pig to eat”.
John Krüger is an Adelaide-based photographer and home brewer with a passion for good beer. He’s on the Royal Adelaide Beer and Cider Awards committee as well being a beer judge with the awards.
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