What do you get when you combine the classic sensibilities of German bier with a look back at historical American brewing? The answer is a range of amber lagers! These brews harken back to a time before prohibition and some of the recipes they are based on are that old! Amber lagers are one of those beer styles that many times end up being looked at as boring and bland. They don’t have the sexy appeal of intense IPAs and mind-blowing sours. Yet in the light of modern craft, amber lagers can be exquisite; bursting with flavor and depth yet as easy to enjoy as any other drink around.
Great Lakes Brewing Company Eliot Ness Amber Lager
Great Lakes had some fun when it came to designing their amber lager; they bestowed upon it the name of a famous prohibition agent. The Irony stops at its title as delicate citrus and floral hop aromas greet the nose. Malt plays a much larger role on the palate with flavors of toast, nuts, and a hint of toffee. This is a mainstay of the award-winning brewery and one sip will make you understand why.
The Brooklyn Brewery Brooklyn Lager
This flagship beer from Brooklyn Brewery honors the area’s brewing tradition. The light amber brew has fresh lemon, wood, and floral aromas. Light toasty flavor shows up in the mouth yet hops are still the major player here. A dry mouthfeel complements refreshing bitterness on the finish. This is one of the most iconic beers in East Coast craft.
Capital Brewery Wisconsin Amber
One look at Capital Brewery’s portfolio of beer and you can see the Germanic influence. The qualities of balance and drinkability show in most everything they brew. Their Wisconsin Amber is no exception. Spot-on aromas of bread, toast, and light caramel are present throughout the experience. On the palate, these flavors are joined by mild spicy and floral contributions from the hops. A staple in the Midwest that’s worth any beer drinker’s attention.
Yuengling Traditional Lager
Yuengling has the distinction of being “America’s oldest brewery” still in operation. Their amber lager is based off historical records from the brewery’s past and was revived in 1987. The floral and grainy qualities on the nose bring the term “rustic” to mind and fit with the historical context of this beer. Moderate caramel and accompanying sweetness are balanced by just the right amount of bitterness. It may not be the most complex beer on this list but it’s a classic and one that every beer drinker should try at some point.
Short’s Brewing Company Lil’ Wheezy
Short’s brings that American twist to amber lagers with tons of hops. Whereas most beers in this style have an IBU measurement somewhere in the teens or twenties, Lil’ Wheezy is packing 76 IBUs. This point is made by an array of citrus on the nose. Toasted notes from the malt playing a supporting role on the palate as pine, resin, and grapefruit grab all the attention before fading out with an earthy, bitter finish.
Bayern Brewing Amber
This amber lager from Bayern Brewing is the first beer they brewed, all the way back in 1987. Bayern is home to a German born-and-trained brewer and his skill is evident in their amber. Taking cues from the Märzen beer style, it is full of rich bread and caramel flavors. A slight sweetness is balanced by a soft bitterness. A moderately light-bodied pint that’s as refreshing as the crisp Montana air from where it hails.