Artisan vs regular: How a Hertfordshire microbrewery creates authentic craft lager

Man at bar speaking with a female customer at Tring Brewery, Tring

Tring Brewery is at the forefront of an innovative group of microbreweries creating premium beers - Credit: Adam Hollier

There’s nothing quite like a refreshing, full-flavoured craft beer straight from the brewer’s tap. 

For many beer drinkers, the names we recognise on the bar are often the ones we stick with when it comes to lager. However, are we missing out on quality alternatives? 

“Over the last 30 years, there’s been an explosion of regional brewers producing a wide variety of premium beers,” says Jared Ward, social media and tours manager at Tring Brewery in Hertfordshire. “Alongside traditional cask ales and progressive hazy IPAs, we wanted to offer discerning drinkers an authentic alternative to mass-produced lagers.” 

We sit down with Jared to discuss the brewing process for quality lagers, what sets them apart from other beers and the importance of supporting local breweries. 

Tring employee smiling at camera whilst carrying spade and standing on hops at Tring Brewery, Hertfordshire

Hersbrucker and Saaz hops from Germany and the Czech Republic, combined with pale lager malt creates a refreshing and crisp lager. - Credit: Adam Hollier

Q: What is the brewing process for creating craft lager? 

A: One of the key aspects to making a fantastic lager is setting a slower fermentation time at a lower temperature – usually around 12 degrees. A generous maturation period then occurs, in which the flavours of the hops and malts are allowed to mellow and meld with an authentic lager yeast. 

The hops are central to the taste of craft beer, and the variety of hops can make a big difference. For our new Alchemist lager, we use Hersbrucker hops from Germany and Saaz from the Czech Republic. These are both prize crops from their respective countries, and are often used to brew premium lagers across the globe.

The blend of the hops, malt and lager yeast is left to rest for a few weeks to develop into the crisp, flavoursome final product.  

Q: What makes a craft lager different from an IPA? 

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A: Lager is often a very accessible and easy-to-drink option as it doesn’t challenge your palate with an overwhelming flavour. Neither the hops nor the malt that we use to create our lager is too assertive in their flavour profile, so while it can be complex to brew the beer itself, it has a very balanced taste. 

IPAs can have quite a strong, full flavour which is enjoyable for experienced beer drinkers. For those new to beer drinking, or looking for a lighter alternative, an artisan lager can act as the perfect introductory drink – perhaps even a stepping stone to other versions of craft beer. 

Lager maturing in a beer maturation tank at Tring Brewery, Tring

A slower fermentation time at a lower temperature is crucial to creating a high-quality lager. - Credit: Adam Hollier

Q: Why opt for a premium lager over mass-produced options? 

A: Sometimes, people think of lager as a weak, watery and flavourless beer in comparison to fruity ciders and traditional ales. Improving the standards of beers across the board is exactly what microbreweries like us are trying to do, and lager is no exception to that.  

Alchemist, for example, is inspired by the authentic German and Czech lagers that are renowned across the world for their refreshing, flavoursome qualities. We’re able to brew very small batches of beer, experimenting and trying new things to create a unique, refreshing drink. 

I liken the global companies to slow-turning ships that head in the direction of market trends, but can be sluggish when implementing fresh ideas. Microbreweries like us can pivot quickly within the market, revitalising the interest in craft beers and ensuring that their quality is second to none. 

Brewer examining the lager within a brewing tank at Tring Brewery, Hertfordshire

Alchemist lager is inspired by authentic Czech and German beers that are popular across the globe. - Credit: Adam Hollier

Q: What makes a microbrewery like Tring Brewery a fantastic place to visit? 

A: Smaller breweries like ours are so crucial to local economies – there's a few hundred of us scattered throughout the country, and we also act as community hubs. We invite our customers to take a tour around our brewery and learn all about the process of making high-quality artisan ale and lager. 

Our community-based ethos, the traceability of our ingredients and providing a variety of choices are what makes microbreweries so essential. By engaging with people directly, hosting behind the scenes tours and offering tasting sessions we contribute greatly to our local area.  

To find out more about Tring Brewery’s craft beers, and the launch of their new Alchemist lager, visit tringbrewery.co.uk or call 01442 890721.