Lagers get a bad rap generally; Budweiser, Coors, Natty Light; the list goes on and on. Like almost any style of beer though, there can be quality lagers so long as someone is willing to put in the time and energy to make them. With the hop crisis of last year hitting the brewers of now, one side effect is that a lot of microbreweries are giving lagers a shot, whereas before they just let the big three breweries take the market.
And this is where the Lompoc Lagerfest comes in, which was last Wednesday at Bailey’s.
At this rate, I wonder if Bailey’s will give me some kind of writer-in-residence discount. But I’m dreaming.
There were five beers to try, so Lala and I went for the sampler to taste them all. I’ll talk about them going left to right in the picture.
Heaven’s Helles had a faintly vinegar nose, which seemed really weird for such a light style of beer, but it didn’t translate into the flavors. I think it had an impact on the mouthfeel though, as this beer felt like cider-cheap cider at that-and had a slightly drying effect to it.
The Saazall pilsner had an exceptionally clean front but followed it with a musty finish, like a bog. This was really unfortunate, because that bog flavor lingered far longer than it should have, and wrecked what was otherwise a really awesome beer.
The middle beer was the Oktoberfest, and the middle spot is the apt metaphor for that beer. It’s very smooth, with a very light malt caramel finish. I liked this beer, but promptly forgot it. It didn’t have enough strong qualities for me to recall it one way or another.
Oktobock was the exact opposite of the Oktoberfest; it had the malt body, but with a fresh hop addition that gave this beer a mellow citrus flavor that ran through the whole drink. The caramel kept things in line, and the fresh hops meant that the hop bitterness was never too pronounced. This was my favorite of the lagers.
The beer with my favorite name, however, was the Saazilla. I’m pretty sure that you can make almost any name awesome if you just add the suffix ‘zilla’. Let’s try it: President Bushzilla.
Don’t you feel better about his reign already? No? Well perhaps the theory needs some work.
Saazilla was an Imperial Pilsner, based off the Saazall, and it came with a bigger body. As a result, the beer felt more balanced, and easier to drink. It also almost covered up the bog effect at the end, but not quite. The bog taste kicked in at the very, very end of the drink, marring an otherwise tasty beverage.
After it was over, we both went back for the Oktobock, and it wasn’t even a question. Good stuff.