Lager beers are bouncing back from the sullied reputation they picked up at the beginning of the American craft-beer revolution (“Don’t drink a flavorless lager, drink real ale!”). Fact is, lager beer is much harder for small, independent breweries to make than ale, since it takes longer to ferment and is usually subtler in flavor, which allows flaws to show through. Those flavors can be beautiful, though, and many local and regional brewers are now diving into the lager game.
For example: Victory Brewing recently expanded distribution of Helles Lager to 35 states (the beer was one of the first Victory ever made, but was previously only available in the Philadelphia region). Sixpoint came up with a new can and label for The Crisp, a German pilsner whose name hints at its taste, and Sierra Nevada just released Beer Camp Hoppy Lager, a brand-new seasonal.
Where to get into it: The first lager in the U.S. is said to have been brewed in Philadelphia, and at draft-only pub Standard Tap, the owners have a special appreciation of the style. Sit at one of two bars or slide into a wooden booth and sample one of the several craft lagers that are usually on tap.