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Style Profile & Characteristics of American Lager

Views: 65     Author: Site Editor     Publish Time: 2022-12-28      Origin: Site

The guidelines for the American Lager style are set by the Beer Judge Certification Program (BJCP) Style Committee. The below details are a summary of what an American Lager should represent.

Color Range:2-4 SRM
Original Gravity:1.040-1.050 OG
Final Gravity:1.004-1.010 FG
IBU Range:8-18
ABV Range:4.2-5.3%
Serving & Storage Temp.:38-40°F
Shelf Life:Less Than 3 Months
Suggested Glass:Pilsner or Pint Glass
Food Pairings:Salty snacks, pizza, lightly grilled fish recipes, light salads, pepper jack cheese, fruity desserts

Older BJCP guidelines called this style American Standard Lager. The 2015 changes to the BJCP guidelines renamed the style simply American Lager and classifies the style under “Standard American Beer.” It can be found in their guidelines as category 1B.


Extremely clear with a sun-bleached straw to pale golden yellow color. Head will be starkly white, and foamy, but will rarely have good retention.


Quite weak across the board. Malt aromas if present at all will be grainy, with slight sweetness or even a corn-like quality. Hops, again if present, will be lightly floral or spicy. Clean fermentations leave little in the way of yeast character, but may have traces of green apple and low, but noticeable amounts of DMS are common.


Very light, often boarding on watery, in body with a zippy highly carbonated mouthfeel.


Generally, quite neutral in flavor with low to medium-low grainy flavors. The low to medium-low hop bitterness can give the malt a sweet corn-like presence. Hop flavors will also be very subdued. If discernible the hop flavors may have a floral, herbal, or spicy character.

Balance is usually close to even between the malt and hops, with some examples considered somewhat hoppy and others somewhat malt-forward. Finish is very dry and crisp; a characteristic often augmented by high carbonation levels and makes this beer extremely thirst quenching.


Generally, you’ll want to stay with pretty light food when pairing with an American lager, but it will handle a little bit of heat, and its heavy carbonation helps keep the palate fresh.

A lot of salty snack foods, i.e. pretzels, popcorn, peanuts, and tortilla chips, work great with this style. Lightly grilled fish plates, fish tacos, light summer salads, and lightly spiced seafood, – such as buttered crab – also find a friend here.

On fuller flavored fare this beer works to keep the palate cleansed. Try it with marinated chicken, steak, pizza, or brats. When it comes to that before dinner cheese plate fill it with pepper jack and young fresh cheeses.

The American Lager is generally considered too light to back a dessert play, but it may work with a fruit bowl.

Serving & Storage:

For best presentation and greatest appreciation, an American Lager should be served at around 38-40°F in a Pilsner or pint glass. They are best stored at cellar temperatures away from light and should be enjoyed within 3 months of purchase.

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