Knob Hill India Pale Lager

The Knob Hill India Pale Lager, at Pikes Peak Brewing Co.’s Lager House in Colorado Springs, is made with lager, rather than ale, yeast. Beers made with lager yeasts are typically crisper and cleaner, which can make it easier to identify the flavors that other ingredients, such as hops, contribute to the brew.

Recently, I was preparing a delicious dinner of leftover pizza and, because I was in the mood for soda, grabbed what I thought was a Sprite from the fridge. It wasn’t until I sat down to eat and went to pop the tab that I realized I’d grabbed an Oskar Blues Can-O-Bliss, which is also in a green can.

Rather than schlepp all the way back to the kitchen, I decided to roll with it.

Here’s the thing: If I’d accidentally grabbed a brown ale or a lager, instead of a hazy IPA, I would have gone back for the soda.

It was an awkward moment of clarity, but a truth I could no longer deny: The reason I like hazy IPAs so much is because hazy IPAs don’t taste anything like the beers I grew up drinking.

In other words, they don’t taste like … well … beer…?

And if what I like about my favorite beer style is that it doesn’t taste like beer, am I a total craft beer poseur?

Perhaps.

Chris Wright, of Pikes Peak Brewing Co., thinks it just means I just have room to grow.

The tagline for Wright’s 2017 beer-primer-meets-beer-notebook, “The Beer Journal”?

“Life’s too short to be filled with one style of beer.”

He really believes that, too.

“You should always, always challenge yourself to try new styles, new brands, because you never know what you might like, how your tastes might evolve over the years,” said Wright, who expanded his Monument-based operation to Colorado Springs in 2020, opening The Lager House on S. Tejon St.

Knowing what you like, and that you’re ready to evolve, is the perfect place to start.

If you’re a fan of hazy India pale ales, do a little digging to determine the source of that appeal. Is it the fruit-forward elements, or flavors that come from the hops?

“Maybe you don’t know, but try a beer of a different style that has similar flavors, then you can kind of hone in on what flavor in the beer most appeals to you,” Wright said. “In my mind it’s really interesting to dissect, not just, ‘I like New England IPAs,’ but what part about them do I like, and are there other nuances in other styles of beer that can appeal to me and I can challenge myself as I go through life?”

An Italian pilsner, dry-hopped with noble hops, now on tap at The Lager House might help with the investigation.

“The flavor you get from noble hops, it’s much less pronounced than American hops. It’s more earthy and floral. If you try that and you’re, like, ‘I really like this,’ that means you like the citrus notes in hops,” Wright said. “Or maybe it’s, ‘Eh, it’s ok, but it needs something more.’ And then you can move on and try something else.”

The Knob Hill India Pale Lager, made with lager yeast, makes an excellent trial balloon.

“There are no yeast flavors, so you really understand the flavor that the hops produce in the beer,” he said.

Wright’s Lager House is one of several new local breweries that have chosen to focus on German-style beers, the mother of global beer booms whose merits for too long got drowned out by a craft movement that was all about pushing the boundaries of IPA and ABV. But that may be changing.

“I think that trends in anything are cyclical, and I think a few years back it was, how intense can you get your beer? I think now we’re seeing a natural trend back to ... more basic, more simple, crisp and clean,” Wright said.

Evolving a palate, or a trend, doesn’t happen overnight, though.

The top-selling beer at Pikes Peak Brewing Co.’s lager-focused Lager House?

“Ocean of Clouds, our New England hazy IPA,” Wright said, “but don’t get me started on that.”

Reporter

Stephanie Earls is a news reporter and columnist at The Gazette. Before moving to Colorado Springs in 2012, she worked for newspapers in upstate NY, WA, OR and at her hometown weekly in Berkeley Springs, WV, where she got her start in journalism.

Load comments