Author Topic: Micro VS Home, Lager VS Ale  (Read 1980 times)

Offline toddhert

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Micro VS Home, Lager VS Ale
« on: December 19, 2010, 08:19:59 AM »
This is probably just a matter of opinion and I'm sure that I'm influenced by the area I live in, but why do you think that micro-brewers virtually ignore lagers? It seems that homebrewers have no bias against lagers and obviously Americans prefer lagers if you look at sales. Yet, if you look at the number of lagers available from small breweries, it's a fraction compared to the amount of ales that are produced. It would seem to me that small brewers would want to produce a superior pils or other type lager to compete with the bigger brewers. Is this not the case?

This may be a completely selfish argument, as I would love to be able to purchase a high quality American produced pils or helles as easily as I can a porter or an IPA!!

Offline gordonstrong

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Re: Micro VS Home, Lager VS Ale
« Reply #1 on: December 19, 2010, 08:23:16 AM »
They take more time and equipment to produce.  So you get fewer "turns" on the equipment, so make less profit.  Unless you price the lagers proportionately higher, but that's not happening.  It also takes more skill and precision to make lagers, so people may not want to brew that way.  But it's probably the first reason more.
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Offline bluesman

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Re: Micro VS Home, Lager VS Ale
« Reply #2 on: December 19, 2010, 08:40:36 AM »
I agree with Gordon...it's all about dollars and cents.

Time is money. So if a beer has to sit and take up space it will cost the brewery more money in the long run. From a profit margin standpoint, the object is to keep the fermenters and holding tanks turning over as quickly as possible.
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Offline tubercle

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Re: Micro VS Home, Lager VS Ale
« Reply #3 on: December 19, 2010, 09:07:27 AM »
Micros are trying to serve a niche market. Lagers are everywhere.
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Offline Mikey

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Re: Micro VS Home, Lager VS Ale
« Reply #4 on: December 19, 2010, 09:10:49 AM »
Micros are trying to serve a niche market. Lagers are everywhere.

"Bad" lagers are everywhere.

Offline hopfenundmalz

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Re: Micro VS Home, Lager VS Ale
« Reply #5 on: December 19, 2010, 09:27:55 AM »
This is probably just a matter of opinion and I'm sure that I'm influenced by the area I live in, but why do you think that micro-brewers virtually ignore lagers?

You did not say where you are.  In PA they have many craft lagers of high quality.  Prima Pils or Troegenator Doppelbock are excellent, in my opinion.

Gordon's take on this is correct.  We toured Firestone-Walker back in April, the tour guide said that they did one lager years ago, and never did it again because it tied up the tanks too long, which is a pain if you are at capacity.  They still get customers asking when they are going to do that again, though.
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Offline beerocd

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Re: Micro VS Home, Lager VS Ale
« Reply #6 on: December 19, 2010, 09:28:03 AM »
But there ARE quite a few threads lately about lagering(maybe cuz its winter) and the Solera, and the Ballantine thread... So there's probably a desire for this, but if ales are coming in at $12 a four pack - what would someone be willing to pay for a four pack of great lager?
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Offline tubercle

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Re: Micro VS Home, Lager VS Ale
« Reply #7 on: December 19, 2010, 09:45:40 AM »
Micros are trying to serve a niche market. Lagers are everywhere.

"Bad" lagers are everywhere.

 Tubercle stands corrected ;D
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Offline bonjour

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Re: Micro VS Home, Lager VS Ale
« Reply #8 on: December 19, 2010, 10:58:33 AM »
1. Turnover,  turnover = profit.
2. Equipment, you need more equipment so your beers can turnover while you are waiting for the lagers to be ready. More Equipment = higher loans = less profit. 
3. Energy,  It takes more energy to keep a lager at conditioning temps.  More energy = less profit

A lot of brewpubs make mock lagers

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Offline Mikey

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Re: Micro VS Home, Lager VS Ale
« Reply #9 on: December 19, 2010, 11:01:45 AM »
I agree with Gordon. It's about maximizing profits and keeping your overhead down.

Offline toddhert

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Re: Micro VS Home, Lager VS Ale
« Reply #10 on: December 19, 2010, 05:02:43 PM »
Not sure why it's not showing up in my profile, but I live in Michigan since someone asked. We used to have the excellent Frankenmuth ('pride of the Franconians" in German) brewery which was a mid-sized brewery that produced the best pils I can ever remember from an American brewery, as well as a range of other German style beers. They sold everything from bottles, cans, mini-kegs, and full kegs, but it burned down in the early 90's. It re opened a few yrs ago as a brewpub, but only selling beer on premesis. I haven't tasted anything from the 'new' brewery but I'm told it's quite good.

Why am I telling you this? Just so you know where I'm coming from and that indeed there WERE good mid-sized brewerys producing lagers in Michigan! So, that being said, I fail to see why a brewery can't do the same thing nowadays. Don't get me wrong, we have some GREAT brewerys here, but like I said earlier, I'd like to be able to buy a good helles as easily as I can an IPA and if Frankenmuth did it yrs ago, I can't see why a mid-sized brewery couldn't do it now.

What's even more frustrating to me is that when a brewery DOES have a light lager available, it seems like they're just making something so that a Bud drinker can stay and drink rather than producing something a true beer lover could appreciate. This isn't true in all cases, as with Prima Pils and others, there are some great lagers out there! However, they're far a few between.

Offline hopfenundmalz

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Re: Micro VS Home, Lager VS Ale
« Reply #11 on: December 19, 2010, 08:29:26 PM »
Todd, looked at your profile and it says Grand Rapids.  Yes, Frankenmuth did make some good lagers.  The brewmaster was Fred Sheer who had his advanced brewing degree from Doemens in Germany knew how to make some good pilsner.

Geyers was the name of the brewery before the Frankenmuth name, and it made lagers.  It was a small regional, and since that part of Michigan has strong German heritage, the locals drank lagers.  The Frankenmuth brewery survived a fire in the '80's, but a tornado did it in 1996.  Check out the history and photos here.  
http://www.frankenmuthbrewery.com/history.aspx

I take it you don't like, or are not familiar with some of Bell's lagers?

Edit:  How could I forget!  I am a charter mug club member of Wolverine Brewing Co.  Their main beers are lagers, with a few ales thrown in.  Oliver makes some good beers (some may not fit into strict style guidelines).  I predict that they will need more lagering tanks soon.

http://wolverinebeer.com/home.php
« Last Edit: December 19, 2010, 08:35:08 PM by hopfenundmalz »
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Offline toddhert

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Re: Micro VS Home, Lager VS Ale
« Reply #12 on: December 19, 2010, 08:41:24 PM »
I've only had Bells "Lager of the Lakes" and while I thought it was decent, it wasn't something that I would not go out of my way to find. And believe me, I go out of my way if I like it!

I lived in France and Germany for a while and truly long for the German beers. So much in fact, that I go back to Germany every year or two JUST to visit brewerys!!!  There are some good American lagers for sure, but I have found nothing that compares to an Augustiner or Andechs helles, Wurzberger pils, a or any of the dozens of Kellerbiers in northern Bavaria! I even drive to Chicago (a 3 hr trip) every so often to purchase these beers (they don't import them here in Michigan). Problem is, they are quite old and don't taste the same as to taste them fresh. I just wish I could buy a comparable Michigan beer! I'm working on brewing some lagers, so maybe I can make what I like one day!

Offline gmac

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Re: Micro VS Home, Lager VS Ale
« Reply #13 on: December 19, 2010, 08:47:57 PM »
It's interesting to read this because my two favourite micro's here in Canada both only produce lagers. 
Creemore Springs makes a nice dark lager and occasionally seasonal bock (I believe that it was recently purchased by Molson so we will have to see if new ownership means a change in product but it was very good when it was independent).  Steam Whistle prides themselves on brewing only one lager beer which I think is quite good and is my go-to summer beer.  So, it can be done.  I know turnover equals profit but there are niche micro's here in Ontario making good lagers and they appear to be successful.  Neither of them are cheap and they won't compete against Coors Light and Bud in terms of price and I don't think that they really want to.  They're premium products at premium price for consumers who appreciate the product.  Not everyone wants to drink Bud.  I know I don't.

Offline hopfenundmalz

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Re: Micro VS Home, Lager VS Ale
« Reply #14 on: December 19, 2010, 09:06:18 PM »
I've only had Bells "Lager of the Lakes" and while I thought it was decent, it wasn't something that I would not go out of my way to find. And believe me, I go out of my way if I like it!

I lived in France and Germany for a while and truly long for the German beers. So much in fact, that I go back to Germany every year or two JUST to visit brewerys!!!  There are some good American lagers for sure, but I have found nothing that compares to an Augustiner or Andechs helles, Wurzberger pils, a or any of the dozens of Kellerbiers in northern Bavaria! I even drive to Chicago (a 3 hr trip) every so often to purchase these beers (they don't import them here in Michigan). Problem is, they are quite old and don't taste the same as to taste them fresh. I just wish I could buy a comparable Michigan beer! I'm working on brewing some lagers, so maybe I can make what I like one day!

The Oktoberfest is excellent some years.
I lived in Germany for a while, and know what you are saying.  We make trips to Bamberg, as that is the best brewing town in Germany in my opinion. 
You can make excellent lagers at home.  You just have to try, and work on the process.
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