I've hit that point in the summer where I start looking for a beer that will act as a transition into the fall brews. I'm not quite ready for Oktoberfests or the fresh hop-harvested beers that are just beginning to turn up. For me, the red and amber lagers offer unequaled "session" beer qualities for late summer.
Wondering what a session beer is? It's a beer you can drink a fair amount of, perhaps lose track of the exact number, without feeling full or overcome by the alcohol. The Devil's Lake Red Lager at the Devil's Lake Red Lager from the Great Dane Pub & Brewing Company in Madison.
Style: The red lager is characterized by reddish-brown to copper color and a medium body. Light malty sweetness is emphasized. The malt aroma and flavor may even have a light roasted tone, with a clean, hoppy bitterness that is held in balance. The style originated around Vienna in the mid-1800s. It's often closely associated with Märzen and Oktoberfest styles, but historically the malt used for the Vienna was more highly kilned, leaving it with more light-roasted qualities. Vienna lagers range from 4.8% to 5.4% ABV.
The Verdict: Among the many selections found on the Great Dane's beer menu, Devil's Lake Red Lager seems to be one that goes unnoticed, if not underappreciated. Perhaps the red lager style gets overlooked because it's not as aggressive as the hoppy IPAs, nor as full-bodied and sweet as bocks and porters. But when I want a beer without fanfare that's consistently pleasing and easy drinking, I find that I turn to this brew for its balance and clean flavor.
Devil's Lake Red Lager does have a malty core, but Hallertau hops add a touch of crisp, light bitterness. The nitrogen tap line makes it unique among other reds. At 5.2% ABV, it's bit high to be a session beer for some, so be careful. This is a reliable choice and a beer that I can sit and enjoy for what it is.