We all like pleasant surprises. It doesn’t seem like all that long ago that I wouldn’t give a lager a second glance. Then, a number of lagers from craft breweries that I knew and trusted entered the market. Before I knew it, there were multiple lagers sitting among the IPAs, stouts and saisons in the old beer fridge. While a cream ale still pairs well with garage projects and to mark the end of yard chores, a nice, crisp lager also hits the spot.
For those that know me, when the grass begins to grow, that’s when I begin keeping Blackhorse Vanilla Cream Ale on hand as that’s usually my go-to once the mower is put away. When I got a chance to try Blackhorse’s new lager, I was pretty confident that the Vanilla Cream Ale wouldn’t be usurped from it’s lawn mowing throne. I may have been wrong.
Brandon Crotzer, Vice President of Blackhorse Brewery, shared with me that when they began to work on this beer, he wanted to aim for something similar in style to a Yuengling Lager. This is a beer I am very familiar with as it was often in my fridge during college and shortly thereafter. The BJCP style guidelines plants Yuengling Lager firmly in the International Amber Lager category. What I like about this style versus a straight American Lager is that we can find more caramel and toast qualities which allows the grain to shine through a bit more. Let’s check out Blackhorse’s Lager and see how they did.
This beer pours a beautiful copper color. It is clear, has great clarity and a wonderful, big, white head. On the nose I am first struck by a grainy sweetness – there’s that caramel I was hoping for. Low to no hop aroma. Very clean. On the first sip the malts fill the palate, a little toast, sweet caramel, and a slight bitterness to it. This beer reminds me just a bit of a Vienna Lager but doesn’t finish as dry. Mouthfeel is low to moderate with a medium carbonation. Flavorful and refreshing.
Final Snobs: As I said before, we all like pleasant surprises. This beer certainly surprised me. The flavor of this beer checks all the boxes and, frankly, this may be the best, if not one of the best, of the style I have had to date. Further, the Mrs, who claims that stouts and Märzens are the apex of beer, has determined that she not only likes this beer but has begun calling it “her beer.” Go figure.
Blackhorse hasn’t disappointed me yet, so I shouldn’t be surprised. Move over Vanilla Cream Ale, you’re going to have to share some space in the fridge going forward!
Blackhorse Lager can easily be found around town and at the Blackhorse Pub on Gay Street – but only if the Mrs doesn’t get to it first!