Photo courtesy of Bell's Brewery
Photo courtesy of Bell’s Brewery

Lagers for mature palates

This week, I’ve been allowed to take over Better Boston Beer Bureau. So I thought I’d just give readers an idea of what I’ve been drinking in recent weeks. However, my tastes are somewhat different than other Dig reviewers. Perhaps because I’m older than my colleagues, I enjoy balanced beers like lagers and pilsners. Thus, I’m completely not on board with the fashionable trend toward heavily hopped beers like IPAs. Finding them way too harsh on my palate. Ruinous when combined with most foods, in my estimation. I’m also a wicked snob for German beers (as well as Belgian and British brands). Feeling like most other beers just can’t compete with them. The much-loved, sporadically hyped, and much-mocked Pabst Blue Ribbon excepted. Fortunately, American beer-making has evolved in recent decades back to its German (and British) roots; so I’m finding more and more Murcan beers I like—including some from northeastern breweries.

Rothaus Pils Tannenzäpfle – Badische Staatsbrauerei Rothaus AG – Grafenhausen, Germany – 5.3%

This German-style pilsner brewed by the government-owned brewery of the state of Baden-Württemberg is my main beer crush of the moment. We don’t always get the freshest bottles in the Boston area (perhaps because rumor is that Tannenzäpfle is unpasteurized), and draft kegs are few and far between. But if you get a good batch, you’ll be blown away by its malt-forward assertiveness and hoppy back. 

Lager of the Lakes – Bell’s Brewery – Comstock, MI – 5%

“Refreshing and crisp” as advertised on the Bell’s website, this is a great summer beer. Light, a bit more hoppy than I typically like, with pleasant citrus notes, I initially discovered this Bohemian-style pilsner when my regular packie was out of my favorites. I keep returning to it again and again. Beautiful can art.

Paulaner Salvator – Paulaner Brauerei Gruppe GmbH & Co. KGaA – Munich, Germany – 7.9%

A grandaddy of strong beers, this double bock malt monster drinks surprisingly smooth. Brewed by one of Germany’s oldest breweries—though owned, like so many alcohol companies nowadays, by a multinational, Schörghuber Unternehmensgruppe—it features both pilsner malt and the iconic Munich malt. Delicious with nuts, cheese, and other swanky savories.

Golden Helles – Von Trapp Brewery – Stowe, Vermont – 4.9%

The family behind The Sound of Music brews beers that I find to be among the closest to their European predecessors of any American brewery. This is the first style that I tried in von Trapp’s six-beer lineup, and I found it lively and easy-drinking. The Perle and Tettnanger hops is the star here, giving it a floral aroma that puts it head and shoulders above most New England lagers. 

Session Pils – Notch Brewing – Salem, MA – 4%

Yes, I’m finally giving a nod to a local brewery. Notch knows beer and this Czech-style session pale lager is worth returning to again and again. Lovely for long hangouts online or (carefully) in person, the average teetotaling grandparent could put away a rack of this tiny-canned, low ABV wonder without catching more than a slight buzz. So if you need to keep your head together in polite company, or are just looking for a solid burger beer, add this to your list of go-tos.

Jason Pramas is executive editor and associate publisher of DigBoston and has been known to drink a beer from time to time.