Georgia Red Lager | ABV 5.4%
BJCP Style: International Amber Lager
CraftBeer.com Style: American Amber Lager
CraftBeer.com Sensory Style: Crisp & Clean
Hops: Hallertau Merkur, Polaris, Hallertau Blanc, Mandarina Bavaria Hops
Malts: Pilsner, Cara Amber, Cara Munich 2 & Carafa 3
(A quick note on Sensory Style: A recent, very thought provoking article from CraftBeer.com (It’s Time to Rethink How We Talk About Craft Beer Basics) by Mirella Amato introduced the idea that separating beers into Ale or Lager categories really doesn’t help newer craft beer consumers determine what beers they may or may not like to try. Sensory Style is actually more informative. I tend to agree with this, so I have introduced CraftBeer.com’s Sensory Style categories, in addition to beer style, to help someone reading my reviews get quicker understanding of the overall experience they should expect from the beer. Sensory Style is divided into six broad categories: Sour/Tart/Funky, Crisp/Clean, Dark/Roasty, Malty/Sweet, Hoppy/Bitter and Fruity/Spicy. If you would like to explore these more on your on, you’ll find them here: CraftBeer.com Beer Styles. Go ahead and explore, you’ll find they work quite well.)
Appearance: Clear, dark Amber with red tint. Fluffy white head with good retention.
Aroma: Caramel malt with mild citrus and herbal hops notes. Hint of honey
Flavor & Aftertaste: Malt forward, bready and caramel flavors. Mildly spicy. Moderate bitterness and sweetness.
Palate: Soft and medium bodied. Medium length finish with short lived bitterness.
When is the last time you drank an Amber Ale? What about an Amber Lager? For most, it may have been awhile. Some beer styles lose their popularity over time as others take the spotlight. Amber Ale and Amber Lager are good examples of this “cycle of life” in beer. A decade or more ago, these would be staples at any bar or on store shelves, yet other beer styles seized popularity at the expense of Amber beers. Among the breweries trying to breath life back into Amber beers is Tucker Brewing Company and they have a solid performer with Georgia Red Lager.
Most popular beers produced today showcase hops, certain adjuncts or barrel aging characteristics. It’s probably a smaller group of brewers that attempt to strike a true balance between hops and malts and those tend to be in more traditional, classic styles. I’d place Georgia Red Lager (5.4% ABV) in the group of crafted with attention toward balance, as it gives you the best of both worlds – pleasing aroma characteristics from four different hops plus a malt forward flavor from a combo of four malts. Visually it is a clear, dark Amber color. When poured, it will develop a nice fluffy, slightly off-white head demonstrating quality ingredients via good head retention. Where it really separates itself from most Amber Lagers is in the balance between aroma and taste. Tucker Brewing Co. utilizes a unique combination of more modern German hops varietals: Hallertau Merkur, Polaris, Hallertau Blanc and Mandarina Bavarian. The Mandarina was a super interesting choice for a lager, as I have only had it in a few ale styles. It imparts some sweet citrus and herbal aromas. The other three hops, Hallertau Blanc p, Hallertau Merkur and Polaris, provide the herbal, spicy and bittering characteristics you expect in most lagers.
Then there is the grain bill of Pilsner, CaraAmber, CaraMunich 2 and Carafa 3 malts. These four malts combine to harmonize subtle biscuit, honey and toffee notes with stronger caramel aroma. A side note about color. As a beer consumer and brewing layman, I am always interested in why brewers use certain ingredients. Georgia Red’s grain bill appeared to overlap a great deal and the color was darker than I expected from an Amber Lager. A little digging convinced me that it didn’t take a great deal of the Carafa 3 malt, which is a dark roasted malt, to darken this beer from a medium Amber to dark Amber or almost saddle brown color. Georgia Red is not overly complex, it is just a well balanced beer, making it quite versatile. It can move in a wide variety of social situations. It maintains a nice, rounded medium length finish with a bitterness that lingers a bit; but exits the aftertaste reasonably soon.
I’ll readily admit that I am partial to the lager focused brewers because I realize how much time and effort they put into making a high quality beer. That’s not to say that ales can’t be high quality. While it takes some creativity to incorporate high intensity hops or unusual adjunct ingredients into an ale and make it drinkable, it takes both creativity and attention to detail to develop a lager that is both interesting and drinkable. I think Tucker Brewing Company accomplished both with Georgia Red Lager.
The core lineup of craft beers from Tucker Brewing Company has allowed them to establish themselves as one of the leaders in German style beers in Georgia. You’ll find Hefeweizen, Pilsner, Helles, and Amber Lager all well represented with this brewery. Hitting the shelves starting May 1, just in time for the sticky hot humid summer months in Georgia, will be their Roaring Twenties Radler made with fresh squeezed lemonade. I’m looking forward to grabbing some of that soon!
Thanks for reading, until next time…Let Us Drink Beer!
Please remember to drink responsibly.