Georgia’s Tucker Brewing Company just took home Great American Beer Festival Gold in the Light Lager category. In an American landscape of nearly 10,000 breweries, that’s not an easy feat.
American craft beer is in a bit of a “lager renaissance” of sorts it’s finally normal [again] to see a lager on tap at a brewery. Hell, just a few years ago in Georgia folks were all but drowning in a sea of IPAs and stouts, but now – the Peach State is home to at least three lager-focused breweries. We’d like to extend a personal thank you that no one has tried to make a milk lager. (Yet.)
Tucker Brewing’s Lager, aka Tucker Lager, is barely four years old. The brewery’s appropriately named head brewmaster Tucker Eagleson (purely coincidental) was brewing at Heavy Seas in Baltimore, Maryland when he stumbled across the head brewer job at Tucker Brewing on ProBrewer. His name naturally got his foot in the door.
One of the conditions of getting the job was that Eagleson had to have at least two lager recipes ready for the brewery’s upcoming Tucktoberfest that year. Within weeks of landing in Georgia, he had a märzen and Honeysuckle Helles Lager, that would eventually be Tucker Lager ready to go.
The märzen is seasonal, but Lager immediately became year-round. “The recipes for either beer never really changed after the fest,” Eagleson says. It was just a series of [a thousand] different tweaks and sensory panels to improve the beer,” he adds.
Light Lager may sound like a common beer, but it’s unforgiving if you don’t know what you’re doing. A stout or porter might hide imperfections or off-flavors, but a lager is like changing clothes in the front yard. You see everything.
Here in 2021, Eagleson figured it might be time to enter it in GABF, which still held the competition despite canceling the public festival for the second year in a row. Last Saturday morning, Eagleson woke up to a text from brewery co-founder Ashley Hubbard that out of 137 category entries, Tucker Lager won gold. “It took a second for it to set in,” he says.
It’s actually the first gold medal for a lager in Georgia in more than 30 years. A medal that’s well deserved. The all-German hop and malt lager is about as clean and crisp of a beer as you’ll find anywhere.
Taking home gold for a light lager on your first try is no easy feat I say to him. Eagleson smiles and simply replies. “I’ll drink to that.”
I grew up on Duke’s Mayo, which was highly unlikely considering I lived in state that was completely devoid of Duke’s. To this day I couldn’t tell you what mayo my friends ate growing up, but I’m sure it was something with a tangy zip, or some crap like that. We would vacation to see family a few times of year, whether upstate South Carolina, or Charleston and my father would stock up on Duke’s. We’d drive back north with a trunk full of mayo, and Beanie Weenies to get through another few months.(The pimento cheese was always a short term delicacy.) Later he would have family members ship it.
Either way. My southern born and raised family however, was and still is – a Duke’s Mayonnaise family.
Charlottesville, Virginia based Champion Brewing Company has just introduced a new lager, meant to be paired with a southern sandwich favorite – A Duke’s heavy BLT.
The beer is a 5.1% ABV vienna lager perfectly named Family Recipe, brewed with Vienna malt, Magnum and Saaz hops. While I haven’t had the beer, I can tell you a BLT, with crispy bacon, lettuce as cold as the fridge, topped with Duke’s on white bread washed down with a crisp lager is a thing of beauty in the humid southern summer heat. Champion Brewing only uses Duke’s Mayonnaise in their restaurants for a reason.
When I told my father about this collaboration he literally stopped speaking mid conversation and wanted to know where to get it. The irony now is that he can get all the Duke’s he wants, but not the beer. Life can be so cruel.
Champion Family Recipe debuts this week Champion’s Tap House, Champion Grill, and Champion Ice House. The brewery will also be pouring Family Recipe at the Duke’s Mayo Classic games this year in Charlotte, North Carolina. The Doubleheader features East Carolina University versus Appalachian State University and UGA opening against Clemson.
Additionally, Family Recipe is shipping 16-ounce cans across Virginia and North Carolina for a limited time.
Style: Vienna Lager
Hops: Saaz, Magnum
Availability: 16oz Cans, Draft. Limited Release
NoDa Roaring Riot cans return to kick off (pun intended) August. Brewed for the faithful beer drinking fans and hardcore tailgaters of the NFL’s Carolina Panthers.
The brewery is based in Charlotte, North Carolina, and as you can probably imagine are big Panthers fans. NoDa Roaring Riot is dedicated to the passionate fan base. The beer once was a pale ale brewed with rye malt, and now has shifted to something more crushable – a lager.
NoDa Roaring Riot will be available in 16-ounce cans again Friday, July 28th.
Availability: 16oz Cans, Draft.
Latest Return: August 2021
4.5% ABV, 18 IBUS
Ecliptic Chuckanut Vienna-Style Lager
Stone Buenaveza Salt & Lime Lager has started shipping nationally as April winds down.
From a brewery best known for their love of India pale ales comes a Mexican-style lager brewed with fresh lime and sea salt. Stone Brewing was founded in 1996 just 17 miles from Baja California. The south of the border inspirations are evident in Stone’s love of hot peppers in brewing, as well as Xocoveza Mexican hot chocolate imperial stout.
Brewer Ben Sheehan created this beer at Stone’s World Bistro & Gardens Liberty Station. Look for Buenaveza Salt & Lime Lager in 12 and 19.2-ounce cans, 12 and 22-ounce bottles as well as draft.
Atlanta’s Wild Heaven Craft Beer has an appropriately named beer release this weekend – Don’t Stand So Close To Me.
Perfect for social distancing, Don’t Stand So Close to Me is a Vienna Lager, brewed with Saaz and Hallertau hops.
Georgia now has a shelter in place order, but both brewery locations will be open for beer-to-go, and food at their West End location. Free to every person WITHOUT purchase is a bottle of brewery made hand sanitizer.
Wild Heaven Don’t Stand So Close to Me is available in 16-ounce cans for your quarantine drinking pleasure.
Style: Vienna Lager
Hops: Saaz, Hallertau
Availability: 16oz Cans.
The Bruery, nestled in Orange County, California, is known for a pretty wide range of styles from massive imperial and pastry stouts to saisons and wild ales. Even though the brewery said they were never going to stray into the American IPA world, they created their own opportunity to get hoppy and hazy (with a technical loophole) with the formulation of Offshoot Beer Co. Even with this proven versatility, The Bruery is releasing something a little more… refined this month – Ruekeller Helles Lager.
A “world-class” lager was the goal when the brew team set to work on Ruekeller’s creation nearly a year ago. Lagers are some of the most complicated beers to brew, and The Bruery took no shortcuts in this already highly touted release. The Helles is an all-German malt and hops recipe in keeping with style tradition. The final test batches released the taproom have received high marks on the beer rating app Untappd.
Much like The Bruery’s own name, “Ruekeller” is a play on brewery founder Patrick Rue’s name and Ruhkeller or “rest cellar,” where German lager beers are krausened.
The Bruery Ruekeller Helles will be available in full distribution in 16-ounce cans start in late January.
Style: Helles Lager
Hops: Magnum, Saaz
Availability: 16oz Cans, Draft.
Debut: Late January 2019