NOTE: In the 2015 BJCP Style Guidelines, Lite American Lager has been renamed, it is now Style 1A American Light Lager in Category 1 Standard American Beer which describes everyday American beers that have a wide public appeal. Containing both ales and lagers, the beers of this category are not typically complex, and have smooth, accessible flavors. The ales tend to have lager-like qualities, or are designed to appeal to mass-market lager drinkers as crossover beers. Mass-market beers with a more international appeal or origin are described in the International Lager category.
The lite American Lager has become the predominant style of beer drank in America. Advertising has done it's job too well. These light beer drinkers are fiercely loyal to their brand and simply refuse to think about any other type of beer. It's really a sad testimonial to the way we are manipulated by the mass market advertising we've seen since we were kids.
But there are those that are taking notice of all the new brands and styles of beer in the alcohol section of their local supermarket. These are the potential homebrewers of the future.
Lite American lagers are what the world thinks of when they think of American beer. Most of us grew up drinking these beers and there is nothing wrong with that. They are refreshing on a hot day, available everywhere, and usually very fresh when you get them.
The fact that these beers lack flavor is just one of their characteristics. The fact that they can be difficult to brew because there is no where for the off-flavors to hide, makes it a challenge some homebrewers just can't resist.
I'm sure I'll eventually brew one, but I've just got too many other styles I want to brew and learn about first. I have brewed a cream ale and that's about as close as I'll probably get for a while.
Lite American Lager Description
Aroma: Since it has little or no flavor, it is only natural
that it has little or no malt aroma. It is possible that a little
grainy aroma sneaks through, or when using corn as an adjunct, a
sweetness reminiscent of corn may be present. The hop aroma is also in
the range of none to light and when present is usually spicy or floral.
Low levels of yeast character such as DMS, acetaldehyde or fruitiness
may be present and are acceptable when they appear. Diacetyl is not
acceptable and is considered a fault so be sure to give the fermenting
beer a bump of 5-10 degrees for the last few days to get rid of any
remaining diacetyl before lagering.
Appearance: Since there is really nothing in lite American
lager but American pale malt and adjuncts to dilute the malt, the color
will be very pale straw to pale yellow. The head is white and usually
dies quickly. The beer is very clear.
Flavor:The flavors are light when present. It is described
as being crisp and dry, which don't really describe the flavor as much
as they describe the carbonation and attenuation of the beer. When
flavor is present, it will be a light graininess from the malt, maybe a
sweetness from the corn, a very low level of hop flavor and bitterness
when present. The overall balance of the beer will vary, but will be
from lightly malty to lightly bitter. Generally the lite American lager
is pretty well balanced. When described as crisp, it is usually due to
high levels of carbonation. You will find no diacetyl and no yeast
derived fruitiness in these beers.
Mouthfeel: As with all the other adjectives for this beer,
the mouthfeel is very light. All the adjuncts dry out the beer and it
will attenuate well if you pay close attention to your fermentation
temperatures. You will notice a bite from the high carbonation levels
and is very often described as being watery.
Overall Impression: This beer is definitely quaffable, and is
very refreshing on a hot day. It goes down well and is the true
American session beer.
Comments: This lager will be lighter and have less calories
than the lagers made in Europe. Everything must be light and any strong
flavors is considered a fault. It is easy to throw this beer out of
balance so pay close attention to the IBUs and don't use any continental
pale ale malt, just American 2-row or 6-row. Use only the freshest
ingredients. If using malt extracts, make sure they are not made from
continental pilsener or English pale malts. Pay very close attention to
the fermentation temperatures and keep them in the low 50°F range
(10°C) to minimize fruity or otherwise strong flavors. Let the beer
finish fermentation and be sure to give it a diacetyl rest to clean up
the beer. This beer is meant to appeal to the broadest range of the
general public as possible. Also, notice how the work light is spelled,
"lite" as in Miller Lite.
Ingredients: American 2-row or 6-row barley and a high
percentage of rice or corn (up to 40%). When using more than 25%
adjuncts, try to use some 6-row to help with the conversion and give it
plenty of time.