Do you remember your first beer? I certainly do. Odds are, your first beer was much the same as my own: a light lager (probably served warm) from an American macro brewery. Be it Budweiser, Coors, Pabst Blue Ribbon, Natural, Busch, etc., the brew needed no introduction and left much to be desired. Such an experience is enough to ruin beer altogether for the majority of first-time zymurgic imbibers.
Enter First Mile Brewing. Those of you faithful customers who are "in-the-know" will recognize Lager Camp, a pale lager, first released in early summer of 2019, that constitutes our first attempt at a true-to-form craft lager. It offers an equally crisp, clean drinking experience as those other macro beers, but without sacrificing for flavor. Now, it has a counterpart. This week, Ezra and Nate packaged Map 67, a Vienna-style lager with a darker complexion, but offering an equally pleasurable drinking experience.
Many of you might be asking: what's so different about a lager, when compared to an ale? The simple answer is yeast. Now, there are great volumes of educational tomes on the differences between ale and lager yeasts, but I will attempt to distill the difference to its simplest form, for the sake of the layman: ale yeasts are top-fermenting yeasts (which means they ferment at the top of the wort within the fermentor) and they ferment most comfortably between 65 and 72 degrees Fahrenheit; by contrast, lager yeasts are bottom-fermenting yeasts (thus, fermenting at the bottom of the wort within the fermentor) and prefer temperatures roughly between 50 and 60 degrees Fahrenheit. The difference is simple enough, but comes with an important caveat: ale yeasts, preferring warmer temperatures, can fully ferment within 5 to 10 days; lager yeasts, preferring colder temperatures, require up to six weeks to ferment to completion. Thus, while an ale can be brewed and packaged within a two-week time span, a lager needs nearly two months to achieve the same outcome. Though a considerably more involved process, brewing lagers is well worth the effort in its apparent capacity to produce utterly pristine beers.
Lagers are the last great untapped (hehe) source of inspiration in the craft beer world. Amidst the onslaught of hazy IPAs, barrel-aged stouts, and all variants of "superbeers," touting alcohol contents in the double-digits, one can hardly be faulted for overlooking the simplicity of a cold, crisp lager. And yet, here at FMB, we relish the opportunity to tackle this otherwise underappreciated category of beer, to cast light on the brilliant combination of simplicity and patience.
So, next time your palate craves a balanced, clean lager, put down the 30-rack of macrobrew and come grab a Lager Camp or Map 67 lager at FMB!