I’ve had lagers on my mind lately; perhaps as warm weather and summer approaches, perhaps as the pendulum is swinging back from the high-gravity, extreme-flavor end of things, I’m craving more and more a clean, crisp lager to knock back. (Don’t get me wrong, I’m still all about the floral and fruity IPAs and such!)
Portland Brewing’s ZigZag River Lager fits that bill pretty well. Recently promoted to a year-round beer, they sent me samples a couple weeks ago and I’m finding it a nice drinker. At 5.1% abv, it’s a “German-styled lager” that the head brewer Ryan Pappe describes here:
This smooth amber lager is heavily influenced by the malty lagers of southern Germany. Featuring a blend of pale, wheat and Munich malts, ZigZag comes down on the malty side of the equation. It pours with a fluffy white head and a bright bronze hue. The aroma reveals the sweet caramel and toast notes from the heavy use of Munich malt that provide the majority of the flavor and color.
Appearance: Bright, light copper, very clear with white head that broke quickly, though there’s a steady bead of tiny bubbles that last throughout.
Smell: Sweet corn and a very light touch of sulfur, crusty bread, light and floral spiciness from the hops. Clean and mellow lager nose, nothing flashy (but then there shouldn’t be).
Taste: Bread crust, a touch of mineral/hard water character, sweet malts with a toasty presence and clean, easy drinking. It’s a nice amber lager. It develops a soft creamy character as it warms.
Mouthfeel: Clean, medium-light body, slightly malty-sweet finish.
Overall: Pleasant amber lager that’s easy to drink and will be a good warm weather beer (or anytime, since it’s year-round now). Also kind of has a “steam beer” quality to it to my tastes, which is enjoyable as well.
So, ZigZag is a nice addition to the (local) lager market, particularly now that it’s year-round. At 5.1% it’s not quite a session beer, but I would call it “sessionable.”