Every year, there’ve been some optimistic beer dorks who would claim that IPA’s ascendance and dominance would wane in favor of craft lagers. Well, IPAs are certainly still dominant, but I think the rise of craft lagers has finally come to pass in the last few years. And this isn’t just because I find myself drinking much more from the lager family (though that’s obviously a key indicator you should pay attention to, as I am definitely not the worst, no sir), but I do see more breweries specializing in lagers these days, and even beer geeks getting excited for new offerings from said breweries.
Granted, no one’s lining up in the streets overnight to get a taste of the latest Czech dark lager from the likes of Bierstadt Lagerhaus, Suarez Family Brewery, Notch, or Human Robot… but they’re not really doing that for IPAs anymore either and there seems to be actual buzz around lager releases sometimes. I actually see lagers rated higher than a 4.0 on Untappd occasionally, which is surely a sign of the end times…
Another sign of craft lager’s rising popularity (né end times) is the emergence of new styles, often sliced rather thin. Take today’s beer, Wayfinder Terrifica, described as an Italian-Style Horror Pils. The “horror” part is obviously tremendously important and speaks to the black magic used to make lagers popular (and also the Giallo movies I was watching whilst imbibing), but the “Italian-Style” Pilsner is something that does seem to be catching on with other breweries. With a traceable origin from Italy, it basically represents a standard German Pils that’s been dry hopped (with, it should be noted, noble or Euro hops that accentuate the standard pilsner profile – not so much new world citrus bombs, which is perhaps a separate thin slice of the new lager pie.)
This particular example is made by another brewery that seemingly specializes in lagers, Wayfinder Brewing. I’ve been drinking a lot of their stuff over the past few years (but, for some unfathomable reason, have not covered on the blog… until now). It’s a collaboration with Heater Allen (yet another lager specialist) and Modern Times, whose brewers were all inspired by a particular Italian brewery at a Pilsner beer festival (yes, those exist too, a further sign of the end times). Hopped heavily with Spalt Select and Tettnanger and then dry-hopped Polaris and more Tettnanger, this seems like a pretty damned good example of the style:
Wayfinder Terrifica Italian-Style Horror Pils – Pours a striking, clear, bright golden yellow color with a couple fingers of fluffy white head, great retention, and lacing as I drink. Smells nice, bready malts and lots of noble hop character, herbal, spicy, floral, a bit of brighter citrus too. Taste starts with a nice bready sweetness that gives way to spicy noble hops, some floral, herbal notes, and finishing with a solid bitterness. Mouthfeel is light bodied, well carbonated, crisp, fairly dry, and quaffable. Overall, excellent little pils, A-
Beer Nerd Details: 4.7% ABV canned (16 ounces). Drank out of a Willibecher glass on 10/28/22 (i.e. Halloween weekend!)
As mentioned above, Wayfinder has emerged as a reliable go-to brewery for all manner of lagers (not to mention the unsexy ale styles like Altbier), so you’ll hopefully be seeing more of them here sooner rather than later.