Lagers are brewed at cellar temperatures limiting the formation of esters and other fermentation byproducts, producing a clean flavor. Lagers are also aged (or lagered) at near freezing temperatures for up to 3 months. Lagers are the style of beer most popular in America, although the version most often consumed is nothing like the European counterparts.
Pilseners originated in the town of Pilsen, of the Czech Republic, and are the classic light lagers from which the American tradition, typified by "Budmiloors,” springs. The most classic pilseners, however, exhibit such delicacy of maltiness and subtlety of hop flavor that the style has been done a disservice by the American mega breweries. German style pilseners have a high hop bitterness, moderate hop flavor and aroma, and are light straw/golden in color. Bohemian pilseners are more full-bodied, slightly sweeter and more malty than German pilseners and may be light amber in color. Bohemian pilseners are typified by the use of Czech Saaz hops. Original American style pilseners or pre-prohibition pilseners are made using up to 25% corn. The corn produces a slightly sweet flavor and aroma. Preprohibition pilseners have medium to high hop flavor, aroma, and bitterness.
German light lagers, called Munich style helles and dortmunder/European export, are similar to pilseners but are less aggressively hopped, and are soft and pleasantly drinkable. Dortmunder tends to be slightly higher in alcohol and more deep golden.
Munich style dunkels (or German dark lagers) have pronounced malty aroma and flavor that dominates over a clean crisp moderate hop bitterness. They can be chocolaty, chewy, and often exhibit a bread-like aroma, from the use of Munich malt. Colors range from light brown to dark brown.
Bock is a traditional German style full of flavor and complexity. Proverbially associated with the billy goat, from the word “bock” in German, this style typically has an assertive alcoholic kick. Strong and malty, ranging in color from deep copper to dark brown, bocks commonly denote the coming of spring. Helles bocks are lighter in color and lower in alcohol content and hop bitterness. Doppelbocks are generally stronger in malt character and alcohol. Brews of this style are named with the “ator” suffix, as in “Terminator.”
German style Märzens or Oktoberfests are malty yet slightly hoppy full-bodied beers that range from golden to reddish brown in color. These beers were originally brewed in March and cellared over the summer months to be savored as the first leaves of autumn hit the ground.