When someone says, "Hey, toss me a beer," you just can't miss with a pale lager. Otherwise, a perfectly good beer will wind up in the bushes. Pale lagers are the very definition of your basic modern production beer, but that doesn't necessarily mean they're simple. Pale lagers range wildly in terms of taste and clarity, and there's truly something for everyone in this diverse family of beers.
"Lager" Isn't a Person Who Cuts Down Trees:
(Though we're sure that lumberjacks enjoy a good lager.) Lager beer is characterized by the use of special yeasts and must be conditioned (aged) at low temperatures. Remember the "ice" beer craze a few years ago? Brewers were pretty much competing to develop the ultimate pale lager. While some non-lagers use lager yeast, it's the cold-temperature conditioning that truly defines the brew. In German, "lager" even translates to "storage."
Others "Pale" in Comparison:
As you'd expect, pale lagers are light in color, ranging from nearly clear to golden. They date back to the 19th century, when pale ale brewing methods were applied to German lagering techniques. Pilsner, developed in the city of Pilsen, quickly found great success and spread rapidly around Europe. It's now the most common type of beer in the world. Besides pilsner, the pale lager family also includes American lagers, helles, malt liquors and bocks.
How to Drink Pale Lager:
Whether poured into a chilled glass or enjoyed straight from a frosty bottle, the clean and unassuming taste of pale lager can be enjoyed all by itself. Pale lagers are generally quite dry, with a bitter tang from the hops. Depending on the brand you choose, you'll discover flavors that range from a slight caramel sweetness to a bready taste, or you may encounter flowery or citrus notes.
Pale lagers pair well with chicken, seafood, cheese, herbs and lemony foods (especially dessert). Even a basic hot dog, with its sweetness of pork, goes nicely with a cold pale lager. The high carbonation levels in pale lager also make it perfect for cooking. Beer-battered fish, for example, has an extra-crisp and crunchy batter thanks to those helpful little bubbles.