A new India Pale Lager from the Malt Shovel Brewers team aims to challenge drinkers’ perceptions about lager, which continues to be under-represented in the craft beer arena.
It’s the second beer in the Malt Shovel Brewers range, which gives the James Squire brewers free licence to create some more experimental beers.
This time it was brewer Stuart Scott’s turn to conceptualise the beer. The result is an India Pale Lager (IPL) dubbed La La Lager.
“IPL is a style that I’ve been a fan of for a very long time, so I wanted to have a go at it,” he told Australian Brews News.
“I think that cleaner body really shows off the fruity nature of the hops in a way that an IPA can’t.”
La La Lager showcases German hops Tetnang and Magnum, added late in the kettle to give spicy and herbaceous characters.
Post ferment, the beer is dry-hopped with American varieties Northern Brewer, Centennial and a Malt Shovel team favourite, Citra, rounding out the flavour with a hint of fruit and citrus.
Scott said the grain bill comprising a component of malted wheat and two caramel malts, Carapils and Caraaroma, was crucial to carry off the robust hopping regime.
“IPLs can be a bit watery or a bit astringent. We did bulk up the body a little bit to combat that,” says Scott.
Waiting for lager’s time
Lager has long been touted as the next big thing in craft beer, but Malt Shovel head brewer Chris Sheehan says this optimism has not yet been converted to actual sales.
“I’ve heard lagers mentioned every year for the past three years,” he told Australian Brews News.
“Whether that eventually buckles and happens remains to be seen. People including us are trying, because it’s a massively under-represented genre in craft beer, but it hasn’t translated to sales.
“It’s still a tiny corner of the fridge for lagers, in the craft section. Whether it will take off, I’m not sure. That’s the million dollar question.”
Scott said he wanted La La Lager to sit apart from other lagers that people may have tried previously.
“Lagers can be quite boring and that puts a lot of people off, especially if they’re thinking about their favourite beers, or beers that stand out,” he said.
“We wanted to make a lager that does stand out.”
Sheehan said some drinkers may not even pick the beer as a lager, which may be a good thing.
“We wanted this beer to be able to go toe-to-toe with an IPA quite comfortably. They might be surprised that a lager can taste and smell like that,” he said.
As a food match for La La Lager, Scott suggests its strong hop profile demands food of equal flavour intensity, such as strongly spiced barbecued chicken wings, served with barbecued corn.
Malt Shovel Brewers La La Lager is out now on draught in selected Sydney venues. Bottles are available from Camperdown Cellars and online exclusively from MoCu.