I'm guessing that at some point you asked yourself, "What exactly is a plain 'Lager' when it isn't qualified as either a 'Pilsner Lager' or a 'Dark Lager'?" I asked myself the same question. I wanted to know how to classify Göller's beer they labeled "Lager." For most of us, the first thing that comes to mind when you think of "lager" is a classic pilsner. However, Göller's Lager definitely is not a pilsner. The style is actually one of their most unique beers, more closely resembling the "festbier" served traditionally at Oktoberfests. In fact, it's evolutionary family actually belongs to the same group as the Märzen/Vienna Lager family, loved for its amber-colored, easy drinking beers.
Let's go back in time to the 1830s to understand how it evolved. Two brewers, one from Vienna named Anton Dreher and one from Munich named Gabriel Sadlmayer, collaborated over years to invent this family of lager beer. They traveled all over Europe to understand the various techniques being used. Perhaps their greatest discovery was the recently invented English indirect heat kiln that used a rotating drum to gently dry out and roast the malt. This allowed the brewers to improve the malt quality so that it no longer needed to be smokey and burnt. The result would be the Munich Malt and the Vienna Malt, both similar in style.
As you may have guessed, this new malt style quickly became popular. Soon enough, the almost green Pilsner Malt was also added to the maltster's repertoire in Germany, so that light lager beers would eventually dominate. However, the German heart retained a special place for the amber colored lagers derived from the roasted Munich Malt. The higher alcohol content variety would be called Märzen (March-beer) and the lower alcohol content variety was just "Lager." Oktoberfest "festbier" was essentially a variety of Märzen, but the favorite pub beer would be Munich-style Lager.
Brauerei Göller's Lager fits nicely in it's historic place as the "in-between beer." It's not one of the heavy, murky lagers that Germans had for centuries, known as Braunbier (brown beer), nor is it a modern pilsner with strong hops. It finds a balance with a sweet, caramelized and malty flavor, but not over-toasted, nor too hoppy. This beer is the result of a careful balancing act. It makes you want to drink a second, or a third! Not surprisingly, Lager won this year's International Craft Beer Award silver medal. Congratulations, Göller!