Category Archives: Lager

>Thornbridge Italia

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Thornbridge’s Italia was a beer that I’d been waiting for with particular interest; I’m a big fan of Lager – when done right, good Lager can be so good. But we don’t get a lot of that good stuff over here. Italia (4.8%abv) is the result of a collaboration with Maurizio Folli of Birrificio Italiano; properly lagered, and is loaded with Hallertau Northern Brewer, Perle and Spalter Select hops.

But is it any good? I bought this the same weekend as Sharp’s Monsieur Rock, but held off drinking them both in the same session – I feared they would be too alike. I was quite wrong – Italia is unashamedly Lager; Uber-Pale, good carbonation, and meant to be served chilled. There’s the malty, biscuity backbone that I was hoping for; a creamy, malted-milk heart. On top of that there’s Lime and Lemon, and I actually thought the Lime-zest nose got more intense as the pint wore on. It’s citrus all the way, but not too sweet. I liked it a lot, but I don’t think I could drink a lot of it – it’s not a session beer; the flavours are too big. But that’s not a bad thing.

In fact, it formed part of a very enjoyable meal – chunks of Coley, dredged in flour, paprika and pepper, deep fried until golden and served with a Garlic and Lime mayo. Perfect finger-food, and accompanied by a great, sharp, citrussy beer. Hang on – Lager. Watch out for it on keg at various pubs around the country.

>Sharp’s Monsieur Rock

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Like many beer nerd, I have a ‘Wants’ list. It stretches as far as the eye can see most of the time, but since late last year, one beer has been firmly at the top; Sharp’s Monsieur Rock (5.2abv). Luckily, those nice lads at Beer-Ritz recently nabbed a haul, and I managed to fight my way through the scrum and secure myself a couple.

MR was hyped by us Beer Bloggers upon release, and I’m now proud to say rightly so, in my opinion. It’s quite unlike anything I’ve drunk before but in subtle ways; yes, it’s lagered, but it’s so much more than lager. There’s a complex nose, which I’m sure I haven’t really nailed yet, but I’m getting Peach, Pear drops and Orange pithyness all wafting upward. It’s quite possibly the palest beer I’ve drunk (you were right, Ghostie) and – this is something I don’t say often – perfectly lively; the bubbles are light and champagne-esque, lifting all that summery, light, complexity out of the glass, onto your tongue and up your nose.
There’s a little malt-biscuit backbone to hold things up, and it drinks with a little more Lemon poking through than on the nose. It’s 100% hopped with Saaz, and that grassiness is evident in the final part of the sip – the cleanest lagered ale I’ve drunk, without a doubt. There’s almost zero aftertaste.
Aplogies – I know this has been a somewhat hyperbolic post from me, but I really can’t get across how much I enjoyed this beer enough. Grab some whilst you can. Stuart Howe’s blog can be found here, and he details how he made MR with Orval’s Jean-Marie Rock. Do read. It’s one of the best blogs out there.

I’ll also take this opportunity to wish Stuart and all at Sharp’s best of luck for the future, whatever that might hold.

>The Session: Love Lager

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When the Beer Nut suggested writing about Lager (or at least pale beer) for this month’s session, my heart sank. Surely I could find nothing to say; given the miniscule proportion of ‘Lager’ I actually drink.
Then I had a think about it. I do drink lager! On holiday!

One of my loves is The Mediterranean. Some of my fondest memories stem from long, long nights in Greece, Spain, and Turkey (when I was younger), and indeed the cuisine informs most things that I cook from April to October. And despite the Med being full of awesome, cheap and mostly bespoke wine, flowing like nectar from numerous visited wineries, there’s something to be said for a lager, chilled the hell out of, and sipped at a beach bar with the sand between your toes.

Glistening bottles of Mythos and Marathon in Greece, getting greasy from the rapidly expanding pile of prawn shells piling up at the side of my plate. Efes Pilsner, Amstel and Heineken in Turkey, washing down the beauty that is the proper Turkish kebab. And huge steins of Kamenitza and Zagorka in Bulgaria, their flinty sharpness cutting through all that heavy, Eastern European food. Hell, the Greek island of Samos had reasonably kept Warsteiner in most bars (seemingly a concession to the amount of Germans that swarm the place in the summer), and that beer in particular underwrote most of my memories of that holiday. And don’t get me started on Spain and Cruzcampo. I could die in a vat of that stuff.

Of course, at night I generally flit back over to wine, but for me, the scorching heat of a typical summer’s lunchtime on holiday does, as much as I wouldn’t want to admit it, bring me memories of a cold, frosty one. So, despite my Beer Nerdism, Lager has its place in my palate after all. Imagine if I finally got around to visiting Czechoslovakia, or Germany!
I recently tasted Taddington Moravka on draught and it was possibly one of the best ‘lagers’ I’ve ever tasted. It certainly got me thinking – am I missing anything else in this area of beer I know the least about? Looks like I’ll be a little more interested in the world of (the palest) pale from now on. It doesn’t have to be cheap fizz, and if it does – well, as long as you’re in the right place, it can be very pleasant indeed.

The photo at the top is of sunset at an awesome fish joint in Sozopol, Bulgaria. The terrace was on the side of a sheer clifface, the crystal clear Black Sea below. We drank steins of Zagorka lager, and accompanied this with plate upon plate of fried whitebait and mussels and mozzarella topped tomato salad. The plan was to start there and then move on for the evening, but we didn’t. We just carried on there. Sometimes there’s no reason to move.

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