Just like Black Cat, Mrs Ball's and Ultramel... lager has a special place in the heart of South Africans. These tastes have more than stood the test of time, and when the African sun is high and hot, the tunes are on and braai-smoke fills the air, all you want is the crisp kiss of an ice-cold lager (or ten).
The working man’s beer crib notes
Lager gets its name from the German word ‘lager’ which means ‘to store’, and it took some clever hop heads to figure out how to make this golden brew. Unlike ales which have been around for thousands of years (and are top-fermented at room temperature), lagers came about in the Middle Ages in Bavaria and Bohemia (Czech Republic). Lagers ferment at the bottom of the tank and they need to be kept cold to do so. To achieve this, the crafty brewers got their Neanderthal on and took to storing their fermenting beer in ice-cold caves.
Germans being German
This ‘lagering’ process produced a stable, clean, crisp and less cloudy beer. They became such big fans of this brewing style that until refrigeration came about in the late 1800s, brewing was banned in the summer months. These days lager remains the most brewed beer in the world and there are various styles such as bock beers, pilsners, red lagers and dark lagers.
The lager we grew up on, the one we know and love is good ol’ pale lager. For as long as we can remember, big daddy beer has been stocking our shelves and fridges. Mass produced lagers they may be, but they are also consistent and are great examples of the style. But if you want to dive deeper into the lager tank then hop on the craft wagon.
It’s like this...
The first sip of an ice-cold lager is like diving into the freezing Cape Town shore break on a 30+ degree celcius Summer’s day. It’s clean, crisp, refreshing, full of bubbles and it reminds you of what it feels like to be alive. Then just like the tide, the initial bitter burst of the noble hops pulls back to make way for the warm, malty backbone, which is kinda like walking up the beach with the sun on your back and a smile on your dial. A good lager is all of this in every sip #sothirstyrightnow.
Lager and everything
SA’s first unofficial beer pairing - biltong and lager - has been around since before beer pairing existed, and it’s still one of the best. Lagers go great with just about anything - from pizzas to burgers and everything in between, just make sure you have plenty of them. For us, where they really come into their own is with a few good mates, lotsa laughs and fire-side sunsets on weekends away.
These days we’re reaching for Cape Brewing Company Lager, Darling Slow Beer, Jack Black’s Premium Lager and Aces Brew Worx Premium Lager.
Set up your own mini beer tasting with three mass-produced lagers, and three craft lagers. Good times!
Word of the day
Fermentation: the final step in the brewing process. This is when the yeast converts the sugars from the malts into alcohol and carbon dioxide, and the liquid can be called beer for the first time.
Written by: Beer Country,
two of the thirstiest guys on the planet - Greg and Karl. Follow their
fire-side journey as they crack open the brew culture of South Africa,
discovering awesome beers and cooking great food along the way. This
hoppy adventure is coming soon to a TV near you!
- Beer Country