Delicious tasting lagers to toast the arrival of summer

In his regular column, Alex Greig of the Fuggles bars and bottle shop celebrates the start of ‘lager season’ and reveals a few of his favourite beers for summertime drinking…


We’ve been waiting a while but the good news is summer is almost here. That means it’s time to dust off the barbeque relax in the sun and soak up some rays. Sunny days for me are known as ‘lager days’, as nothing quite beats the pleasure of drinking something cold and crisp.

Traditionally, the best lagers have come out of Europe – particularly Germany, Austria and Czechia. But with the current boom in craft brewing in the UK, we’ve also got some fantastic homegrown lager breweries now producing a lovely array of styles. The depth of flavour is more than you might expect too…

The two most popular current styles are ‘Helles’, which boasts a slightly sweet taste and bready notes with a hint of honey. The second is ‘Pilsner’, which is a little more herbal on the aroma, with a bit more bite and robustness to it. It often comes laced with subtle citrus and grassy notes, too. Then of course there are keller beers (which are usually non-pasteurised or clarified), strong ‘Bock’ varieties, pale ambers, shandy-style radlers and so much more. You see… there’s a lot more to lager than meets the eye!

Arguably one of the best examples of the Helles style, and definitely one of our favourites at Fuggles, is Augustiner Helles. This is a Munich institution, as it’s one of the oldest independent breweries in the city. Easy-going and really smooth, it’s superbly well-balanced and drinkable. And it’s got all the things I love about a Helles lager: it’s lightly hoppy, but has some of that subtle honey coming through to round it all off. For something with a little more bite to it, the slightly stronger ‘Edelstoff’ from Augustiner is everything the Helles is with a bit more ‘oomph’.

Another classic is brewed by Rothaus, and their Pilsner is another must-have for us. Made in the Black Forest mountain region of Germany, it’s a wonderfully clean yet flavoursome lager. Brewed with Tettnang and Hallertau hops, which give it a wonderful aroma, this beer has plenty of body and a subtle bitterness that will send you back in for another sip!

Here in the UK we’ve seen plenty of great breweries setting up production to solely focus on lager styles. Two of my favourites are regularly featured at Fuggles and they are Utopian and Lost and Grounded.

Utopian is a short distance from Exeter. The team there are working hard on their eco-credentials and this year will see various investments designed to make them more sustainable. This includes capturing the CO2 from the brewing process to use around the brewery for packaging and waste water treatment too. With head brewer Jeremy Swainson they have become one of the UK’s best lager breweries in a very short space of time, so much so that we’re happy to have their beer on permanently at both our pubs. They also focus solely on using UK-grown malt and hops and love to recreate a historical recipe or two. Their latest release, Bohemian Lager, is a tribute to the classic Pilsner styles of Bohemia. At 4.2% it is easy drinking without tasting ‘thin’ and excellent refreshment, with a lovely citrus note on the finish.

Lost & Grounded in Bristol are another outstanding lager brewer who incidentally have just won Gold at the World Beer Cup for their Keller Pils. Keller beers are unfiltered, the term translating as ‘cellar beer’ – quite simply meaning that the beer is stored (or ‘lagered’) for a period of time and without filtration they tend to have a fuller, more rounded flavour to them. Light and bready, this has a big mouth feel thanks to the yeast not being filtered out and with a great hop character coming through on the finish.

Finally, if you’re after something alcohol-free then another Bristol brewery has produced one of the best alcohol-free lagers going. Wiper & True’s ‘Tomorrow’ is brewed as a German Helles lager, with the alcohol then removed which helps to preserve the flavours of this great-tasting lager. It’s got all the clean, crisp and bready notes you’d want from the style but none of the booze!

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