In honor of Idaho Craft Beer Month, the most recent Beerguzzler column featured Idaho ales (specifically India pale ales). This time around it's Idaho lagers, the flip-side of the beer coin. The difference is in the yeast. Ales use top-fermenting yeast that often contributes a fruitiness to the aromas and flavors. Lager yeast is bottom-fermenting and requires cooler brewing temps, with the emphasis on crisp, clean flavors. Here are three Gem State takes on the lager style:
Laughing Dog The Dogs of Helles, $1.60-$1.90
This lightly cloudy straw colored pour sports a two finger head with good retention. The crushed saltine cracker aromas carry through to the palate, which is marked by just-sweet malt; spicy, soft hops; and a touch of lemon. Helles is German for "bright" and that's a good overall descriptor for this refreshing lager.
Payette Brewing North Fork Lager, $1.60-$1.90
A nice, creamy head covers this pale straw brew. The aromas are a soft mix of grass and grain, with a hint of citrus. Sweet but subtle malt comes through on the palate, along with biscuit and very lean hops. Light is the word for this easy-to-quaff entry, making it a good "after mowing the lawn on a hot summer's day" choice.
Woodland Empire Pilsner, $1.30-$1.60
A hazy, light gold in the glass, it's topped by a porous egg-white head that leaves a lovely lacing. There's a bit of dustiness on the nose with aromas something like a corn tortilla with a touch of lime. Clean, crisp and refreshing up front, it's a balanced mix of subtle malt and hops. It's a bit short on the finish, but a credible homage to the pilsner style.