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A lineup of lagers.

For this round of reviews, we asked our national panel of beer experts to sample some lagers. These selections include brief tasting notes and a rating. If you're a retail or on-premise beer professional who would like to learn more about participating in our panel, please contact Kyle Swartz at 203-855-8499 ext. 225 or kswartz@epgmediallc.com.

* BEER RATING SYSTEM

FIVE STARS (93-100 points)

A top-flight beer. Superior in taste and character, providing an outstanding price/ value relationship.

FOUR STARS (86-92 points)

A highly appealing beer at an excellent value. A beer for which customers will keep coming back.

THREE STARS (80-85 points)

An above-average beer at a reasonable price point, which many consumers will enjoy.

FIVE STARS

*****

(98) Nooner Pilsner (Sierra Nevada Brewing Co., Chico, CA) 5.2% ABV, 38 IBUs. A snow-white head from the bottle that has staying power, and a lovely golden straw color that is clear as can be. It has a clean, light, malty nose with a pronounced noble-hop aroma. A perfect balance of malt and corn-like sweetness, with a strong noble-hop flavor and bitterness that lasts and lasts. This beer is a wonderful take on an old country classic.

(95) Hotter Than Helles Lager (Cigar City Brewing, Tampa, FL) 5% ABV, 20 IBUs. This beer pours from the can with a short-lived creamy white head with a crystal-clear pale golden color that has a strong, clean and grainy aroma with very little hop in the nose. Has a wonderful carbonic bite that plays well with clean and crisp malty sweetness, kissed slightly with noble hops. A quintessential lawnmower beer made for Florida's long hot summer on the boat, beach or lounging by the pool.

(94) Zywiec Porter (Zywiec Brewery, Zywiec, Poland) 9.3% ABV. Opaque black, with tall and creamy tan head. Toffee and dark chocolate fill the nose. The sweet malt is complemented by toffee, chocolate and cappuccino flavors. Medium-bodied, viscous and creamy. Long, luxurious finish. Throat warming is pleasant, and the alcohol is well concealed. Unlike American or British porters, which are typically ales, this porter is done in the Baltic style, which means it was cold fermented like a lager.

(94) Brooklyn Lager (Brooklyn Brewery, New York) 5.2% ABV, 33 IBUs. Amber-gold in color and displays a firm malt center supported by a refreshing bitterness and hoppy aroma. The beer has been dry-hopped with Hallertauer Mittelfrueh, Vanguard and Cascade hops. This is a pretty lager for any food pairing--or just by itself.

FOUR STARS ****

(92) Aecht Schlenkerla Rauchbier (Smoked Beer) (Schlenkerla Brewery, Bavaria, Germany) 5.2% ABV. Burnished, bronze beer. Short, bone-colored head is a bit soapy looking with large bubbles. Pleasant campfire-like smokiness. The base beer (marzen) is evident before the smoke flavor makes an appearance. The smoky character is subtle and well integrated, and doesn't seem to be as intense as in previous years. This beer would go great with smoked sausage, or ham and sharp cheddar cheese.

(92) Craft American Lager (Due South Brewing, Boynton Beach, FL) 4.6% ABV, 20 IBUs. Pouring from the can, a clean white head that lingers, and a light golden color with the slightest of haze. Very little in the way of grain or hops in the nose of this beer. What it lacks in aroma it makes up for with a wonderfully hops-forward flavor, and bitterness that stays with you. Pairs well with understated malt flavors that finish clean and crisp.

(92) Eliot Ness Lager (Great Lakes Brewing Co., Cleveland, OH) 6.2% ABV. This Vienna-style lager is one that IPA fans would enjoy. Poured from a 12-oz. bottle, the deep, rich, reddish-copper color had a 1/4-in. head that was maintained throughout consumption. A strong hop taste with berry and pepper overtones, and a sneaky 6.2% ABV.

(92) Yokel Kellerbier (New Glarus Brewing, New Glarus, WI) 4.2% ABV, 18 IBUs. A Kellerbier is a style of unfiltered lager dating back to the Middle Ages in Bavaria. This modern interpretation is slightly cloudy with aromas of poached pear and subtle spice. The mouth-feel is round and creamy, with some malt sweetness, herbal hop character and a refreshing finish.

(91) Brawler Lager (Yards Brewing Co., Philadelphia) 4.2%, 12 IBUs. Malt-forward and hopped, for a well-balanced flavor. Hints of caramel and toast. Ruby-colored, a true sessionable beer.

(91) Optimator Doppelbock (Spaten-Franziskaner-Brau Brewery, Munich, Germany) 7.6% ABV, 25 IBUs. A traditional German doppelbock that pours a dark, burnt-amber color. Medium-bodied with flavors of lightly roasted coffee, dates and smoky malts. With just a flash of hops on the finish, Optimator is a very balanced and enjoyable beer.

(90) Prima Pils (Victory Brewing Co., Downington, PA) 5.3% ABV, 44 IBUs. Pours a clear, golden color, leaving a slight head. Prima Pils is Victory's wonderful example of a German pilsner with an American twist. This hops-forward pilsner is crisp, clean and refreshing, with a slightly bitter finish. Perfect for the warm summer months.

(90) Craft Lager (Upslope Brewing Co., Boulder, CO.) 4.8% ABV, 15 IBUs. Appearance was to be expected from a lager: a light yellow tint and consistent head. Very light aroma. The taste is quite smooth, without that bite on the end. The malt and Czech Saaz hops work quite well together. There is no struggle on the tongue that I've experienced with other lagers. A great beer to have when you are thirsting for easy drinking. I can see why this is one of our customers' favorites in this category.

(89) Helles Lager (Copper Kettle Brewing Co., Denver, CO) 4.8% ABV, 16 IBUs. A noticeable burnt orange hue when poured into the glass. (When I had this beer from the can a few weeks ago, I had no idea it was this dark.) This brew has a crisp taste, with a definite German-style yeast overtone. The aroma reminded me of an overripe banana or pineapple. Great label.

(89) Beer Camp Hoppy Lager (Sierra Nevada Brewing Co., Chico, CA) 7% ABV, 55 IBUs. This imperial lager is a rework of last year's Electric Ray, a collaboration with Ballast Point Brewing. Pours a light-golden color with a thin, white head. Hop-driven, finishes with a crisp bite.

(89) Buffalo Lager (Flying Bison Brewing Co., Buffalo, NY) 5.2% ABV. A crisp, easy-drinking lager that will appeal to a wide variety of beer fans. The 12-oz. bottle poured a golden color with a 1/4-in. head, and features a sparkling wine-like carbonation effect. With hints of honey and caramel, and a moderate ABV, this lager pairs well with chicken wings.

(88) 1554 Black Lager (New Belgium Brewing Co., Fort Collins, CO.) 5.6% ABV. This dark mahogany brew exhibits ruby highlights, and a medium, frothy head. Mildly sweet malt aroma with background nougat and chocolate notes. Straightforward malt flavor with understated dark grain presence. Dark chocolate and a hint of smokiness late. Dryish finish with good length. Excellent balance. Medium-bodied. Very clean and un-complex beer--quite drinkable. This is a dark beer for people who don't like dark beers.

(88) Aying Jahrhundert Dortmunder Export Lager (Brauerei Brewery, Bavaria, Germany) 5.5% ABV. First brewed for the brewery's 100th anniversary. It pours a golden-yellow with a moderate white head. Nice balance of malt and hop bitterness, leading to a crisp finish.

(88) Firebrick Lager (Schell's Brewery, New Ulm, MN) 5% ABV. A Vienna-style lager with a rich amber color and a thick, white head. Flavors of roasted caramel malt, toffee and nuttiness with very subtle hop tones. Very smooth and enjoyable "all-occasions" brew.

(87) Hell Helles Lager (Surly Brewing Co., Minneapolis) 4.5% ABV, 20 IBUs. Hell is German for "light," and this beer certainly fits that translation. Clocking in at 4.5% ABV and 20 IBUs, this Helles lager is crisp and refreshing, with just the right amount of hop bite and bready pilsner malt. A well-balanced beer that is perfect for warm weather and spicy foods.

(87) Leisure Time Wheat Lager (Jack's Abby Brewing, Framingham, MA) 4.8% ABV, 15 IBUs. Pours slightly cloudy with some sediment. Fruity, spicy and slightly sweet. Leisure Time reminds one of a Belgian witbier. This beer is anything but the simple, fizzy, yellow beer your grandpa used to drink.

THREE STARS ***

(86) Old Scratch Amber Lager (Flying Dog Brewery, Frederick, MD) ABV 5.5% 19.5 IBUs. Pours clear and amber, with a nice head. Toasted malt, and bread on the nose. On the palate, light and refreshing toasted malt followed by a light sweetness. Very smooth, no bite at all. A very simple amber lager.

(86) Kostritzer Schwarzbier (Kostritzer Brewery, Germany) 4.8% ABV. Pours black with a thin, brown head. Malty aromas give way to a clean, balanced, malt-driven body. The lower ABV makes this a great alternative when you want a darker beer but are not in the mood for a porter or stout.

(84) Longboard Lager (Kona Brewing Co., Kailua-Kona, HI) 4.6% ABV. Golden straw color with light, bready aromas. The clean, crisp malt flavors and effervescent mouthfeel make this a refreshing beer--easygoing and welcoming for any drinker. Longboard is perfect for a hot day on the beach or backyard barbeque.

CHEERS NATIONAL BEER PANEL

The Cheers National Beer Panel is comprised of beverage experts from restaurants and wine shops around the country.

Matt Bardill

Total Wine & More

Potomac, MD

Jeremy Bigelow

Hy-Vee

Bloomington, IL

Nathan Burcham

Hobart, IN

James Campbell

Bay Ridge Wine and Spirits

Annapolis, MD

Adam Carlson

Gardina's Wine Bar & Cafe

Oshkosh, WI

Christopher Ciskey

Yankee Wine

Newtown, CT

Jon Davidson

Midwest Manager

St. Killian Importing

Zachariah Gaddis

Staples Corner Liquors

Crofton, MD

Nick Guy

Holiday Wine Cellars

Escondido, CA

Travis Harvey

Young's Market

Waipahu, HI

John Hutton

Cordially Yours

Depew, NY

Scott Marshall

West End Outdoors

Athens, AL

Lisa Morrison

Belmont Station

Portland, OR

Ed Mulvihill

Peco's Liquors

Wilmington, DE

Derek Ridge

Hazel's Beverage World

Boulder, CO

Greg Rixen

Happy Harry's Bottle Shops

Grand Forks, ND

Nathan Robinette

The Casual Pint

Knoxville, TN

Anthony Strange

BevMo!

California

Jennifer Tague

Liquid Assets

Baton Rouge, LA

Mitch Worley

Hy-Vee

Springfield, IL
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Title Annotation:Cheers BEER TASTING
Publication:Cheers
Geographic Code:1U9CA
Date:Oct 1, 2015
Words:1676
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