What is American-Style Lager?

American Lagers originated in Bavaria and the Czech Republic. Once established in North America, a native pale lager developed often adding rice or corn.

Where Did American-Style Lager Come From?

The modern American-lager of today was heavily influenced by Prohibition and the economy of Post-World War II.

The surviving breweries heavily promoted it as a beer style that appealed to a broad range of the population.

Who Was the First to Brew Lager-Style Beer in North America?

The first mention of “Lager” beer in the United States was in reference to a John Wagner. In Philadelphia, in 1840, Waagner had a small brewery at the rear of his house on St. John Street near Poplar.

The Old Growler has the whole story. The following link will take you there…

How do the Beer Pros Define “American Lager”?

The Brewers Association

The Brewers Association is the professional association of small breweries that sets the standards of good practices for those in the craft brewing business.

Their definition of an “American Lager” is as follows…

( https://www.brewersassociation.org/edu/brewers-association-beer-style-guidelines/#94 )

American-Style Lager

Color: Straw to gold

Clarity: Chill haze should not be present

Perceived Malt Aroma & Flavor: Malt sweetness is very low to low

Perceived Hop Aroma & Flavor: Not present to very low

Perceived Bitterness: Not present to very low

Fermentation Characteristics: Fruity esters are usually absent but at very low levels. Diacetyl, acetaldehyde, and DMS should not be present.

Body: Low

Additional notes: Corn, rice, or other grain or sugar adjuncts are often used. American Lagers are very clean and crisp and aggressively carbonated.

According to the Beer Judge Certification Program:

1B. Standard American Lager

Aroma: Little to no malt aroma, although it can be grainy, sweet or corn-like if present. Hop aroma may range from none to a light, spicy, or floral hop presence. Low levels of yeast character (green apples, DMS, or fruitiness) are optional but acceptable. No diacetyl.”

Appearance: Very pale straw to medium yellow color. White, frothy head seldom persists. Very clear.

Flavor: Crisp and dry flavor with some low levels of sweetness. Hop flavor ranges from none to low levels. Hop bitterness at low to medium-low level. Balance may vary from slightly malty to slightly bitter but is relatively close to even. High levels of carbonation may provide a slight acidity or dry “sting.” No diacetyl. No fruitiness.”

Mouthfeel: Light body from the use of a high percentage of adjuncts such as rice or corn. Very highly carbonated with a slight carbonic bite on the tongue.”

Overall Impression: Very refreshing and thirst quenching.”

Ingredients: Two- or six-row barley with a high percentage (up to 40%) of rice or corn as adjuncts.”

Commercial Examples: Miller High Life, Budweiser, Kirin Lager, Molson Golden, Corona Extra, Foster’s Lager”


RateBeer lists entries for the following:

MILLER HIGH LIFE (SABMiller) – http://www.ratebeer.com/Beer/miller-high-life/407

BUDWEISER (Anheuser Busch) – http://www.ratebeer.com/Beer/budweiser/473

COORS (Original) (Coors Brewing Co.) – http://www.ratebeer.com/beer/coors-banquet-beer/706

“RateBeer.com” also posts over 100 brands of American Lager on their site; however, none of the top 100 was available in general national distribution.