When it comes to beer, America runs on lagers. This shouldn’t come as a surprise. Just check out this ranking of the top 20 beers in the U.S.
What is surprising, is that lagers have become one of the fastest growing styles produced by craft brewers. Much of this growth has centered in the craft pilsner category. In January of 2015, craft pilsners grew 56% in a year to year comparison.
That’s a huge jump. And it’s a trend that restaurant owners should pay attention to. It’s a call by consumers for a bit of subtlety in their drinking preferences. High gravity options like double IPAs and imperial stouts have long been sought after by the craft beer-bellied consumer, but the rise of pilsners and craft lagers is harkening back to American’s origins as lager drinkers. This beer trend also reflects the low-proof cocktail trend that cropped up over the past year. Drinkers are looking for more ‘session’ drink options, ones where they can enjoy a drink or two without going past tipsy. This may be good news for bar and restaurant owners, as conventional thinking will tell you, customers order less alcohol if they get too intoxicated off of a single beer or cocktail.
With the recent news of Goose Island getting the go-ahead from Anheuser-Busch to release their 4-Star pilsner with distribution to all 50 states, you can see that even the macro-giants are betting on pilsner as a craft beer staple.
And though microbreweries and brewpubs are producing styles long capitalized on by international producers like MillerCoors and Inbev, they aren’t looking up in reverence, but in reference. Craft brewers are recognizing American’s preference for lager, but ignoring the bland styling of macro-brewed adjunct lagers, instead, they are updating older styles to fit new palates.
From Firestone Walker Brewing Company’s website, “Domestic pilsner is no longer a joke,” said Brewmaster Brynildson. “Craft brewers are taking American-brewed pilsner away from its industrial image and back to its stylistic roots.”
Firestone Walker brews one of the craft industries leading pilsners, Pivo.
If this article has made you thirsty, then check out Paste Magazine’s, Uncorkd approved, list of the best 13 Craft Lagers.