In series 4 of Better Call Saul there’s a scene in which Mike, the doting but shady grandfather, is offered a beer. He’s sitting at a makeshift bar in a warehouse, set up for a group of Germans building an underground meth lab, when he’s asked: “Pilsner or lager?”
( A Pilsner is a type of lager so the question is a little bit like asking if he wants a lager or a lager.) Mike goes for the second option, which we can presume is the industrialised brands that have dominated US markets and worldwide, particularly in 2003, when the fourth series of Better Call Saul is set.
Back then, the craft beer revolution was just getting going in the US, though in Germany, Austria, Czech Republic and thereabouts, there have always been many interpretations and regional variations of the lager style.
These days most microbreweries are still mainly obsessed with IPAs, though many have started to experiment with the lager style over the past number of years.
Magic Rock brewery, based in the UK, has a German lager called Dancing Bear. Made with German Hallertau hops, for a herbal freshness, and Saphir hops which give a citrus/ orange peel flavour, there is a malty and soft spritz mouthfeel with a touch of sweetness. It is light- bodied, pours pale golden – from the Munich and Golden Promise malts – and is an easy- going 4.5 per cent.
Neu Black Lager by And Union in Bavaria looks like a stout with a tight, white head. There are aromas and flavours of liquorice, toasted malts and a hint of citrus hoppiness. It’s dry with a smooth but light body and a balanced finishing bitterness. I liked this one a lot: it’s got layers of flavour, is a drinkable 5 per cent and comes in an appealingly minimalist black can.
beerista@ irishtimes. com