From the HBD Archive
From: darrylri@microsoft.com
Subject: re: Why Lager?
Date: 1992-04-06 14:08:01 GMT

Although a number of folks have advanced the idea that lagering was
created as a means to a watery, tasteless beer, that is putting the
cart before the horse. Lagering was discovered at least a thousand
years ago, as a means of providing beer during the summer months
when it was just to warm to make any drinkable beer. These beers
were crisper and cleaner in character, and although it took a lot
longer to make them, they were held in high esteem.

As you'll find out in much greater detail in the Fix's book
"Vienna", big time lagering came into being in the 1840s, and
quickly spread around the world. (After all, it was the brewers'
dogged determination to make a lager in warm San Francisco in the
1850s that gave us Ste ...uh, California Common beer.)

The neat thing about these beers is that they had a shelf life.
They could be transported great distances, to other markets, and
the brewery could expand its range beyond the distance a dray cart
could move in a day. In reading "Breweries of the Pacific Northwest"
I was struck by how the big breweries in the area (Blitz-Weinhard,
Olympia, and Rainier) pretty much started out exporting down the
coast and even to Asia and Central America. Look at Will Anderson's
"From Beer to Eternity" and notice the old ads, which guarantee the
beer not to sour. This was the boon of lagering. It is what allowed
a single brewer to produce essentially one style of beer and market
it all over the world.

So, although there are fruity lagers and clean ales available, it
is the period of storage that allows the beer to become a completely
stable product that makes it worthwhile to the big brewers. There is
a large pull in this, making it economically better for the brewery
with designs to brew it.

--Darryl Richman


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