Aussies love beer. Historically, they’ve loved VB, XXXX and Toohey’s. Well, here are three craft lagers that are guaranteed to convert people to good beer.
So your mate only drinks VB (or XXXX)? Maybe they want to know what all the fuss is about with these other beers. Maybe they don’t.
Well, instead of just going on about flavour and hops and geeky stuff, I’m going to suggest a few craft lagers so that next time you’re in a bottle shop and you see them, you can pick them up, whether for yourself or a mate.
Taste is very personal. It’s fair enough for someone not to like bitter pale ales but craft beer can’t be dismissed without trying the lagers that are available.
Young Henrys Natural Lager
For those that don’t already know, Young Henrys is a popular Sydney craft brewery.
You can get their Natural Lager in tinnies so you’re going to be able to try this beer for not much more than the price of a coffee. Can are easy to smash through but I’d recommend pouring it in a glass to taste it properly.
Alternatively, you can get it in growlers (pictured above) which are great for sharing between a few people.
It’ll look a little cloudier than a VB or XXXX but this is all natural. It’s inspired by the traditional method of lagering where the beer would be stored in cold cellars or underground caves to let it ferment and achieve a natural clarity.
This beer has a good amount of bitterness but it’s balanced with some malt sweetness. It’s versatile too. You can knock it back with some food or it’s easy drinking enough to have a bit of a session.
I’ve written about Young Henrys Natural lager before. Check it out.
Knappstein Reserve Lager
Okay, first up, Knappstein isn’t a little guy. They’re owned by the big Japanese beverage company Kirin (who also own Lion and the James Squire brand of beers). That being said, it means they have a lot of money behind them to make a great lager. And this is very enjoyable.
It’s crisp and clean with a great balance of bitterness and refreshing sweetness from the malt. You’ll see this in stubbies in bottle shops and on many restaurant menus. If you see it, it’s worth a try.
Because this lager is made by the big guys, it’s relatively inexpensive compared to other craft lagers so if price point is an issue for people you know, this will be much more accessible.
Wayward Brewing Keller Instinct
You’ll find this delightful beer plenty of places around Sydney, particularly in the Inner West. You’ll definitely find it at Wayward’s tasting room in Camperdown.
It’s a German style lager, the like of which you might find at Oktoberfest. It has some nice biscuity malt flavours but also a decent amount of bitterness from the hops. It’s a good example of the type of character you can find in a proper craft lager.
Swig it down alongside a big hot dog and you’ll never look back.
Bonus (Not a Lager): 4 Pines Kolsch
Okay, okay! Kolsch isn’t a lager but it shares many of the same characteristics. It’s a light gold colour, very clear and incredibly refreshing with just the right amount of bitterness. Although not an entirely accurate description, Kolsch is a sort of German version of a pale ale (from Cologne, hence the name) that drinks a lot like a lager.
You see 4 Pines Kolsch everywhere these days and it’s worth grabbing a stubby or a six pack when you can. Since 4 Pines (based in Manly / Brookvale) stepped up production, you’re able to get a bottle for a few bucks and a six pack for around the $20 mark.
Why Drink Craft Lagers?
If you’re already into your craft beer you probably know of all the benefits of drinking the good stuff. But it might take some explaining if you have mates who don’t “get it”.
The benefits of drinking craft beer are that, most of the time, you’re supporting the little guy. These are generally small Aussie business busting their guts to make it work. The beers do often cost a little bit more because they’re made at a much smaller scale and they use premium ingredients.
Craft tastes a hell of a lot better than mainstream beer, especially in the case of craft lagers like these.
Further reading: A closer look at lager styles.
Maybe you’ve started your “craft beer journey”, or maybe your VB-drinking mate gave a craft lager the tick of approval. If you’ve tried any of these beers or you have other suggestions, I’d love to read about them in the comments below.