The History of Lager
Although beer has been around for thousands of years, the lager is less than six centuries old and temperature has everything to do with its discovery.
Throughout history, beer traditionally meant ale. The practice of brewing ale at warm temperatures had been around since ancient times. Then, sometime during the Middle Ages, Southern Germans discovered a great appreciation for enjoying a cold one.
German brewers in Bavaria became accustomed to storing their beer in the icy cold caves of the German Alps, which helped clarify the beer; meaning the cold temperature made the suspended dead yeast cells that would normally cloud their ales fall to the bottom, making it easy to remove.
Centuries later, either through natural mutation or hybridization, cold hearty yeasts capable of fermenting beers over a long period in the cold temperatures of the caves naturally developed. Evolution apparently has its benefits in the beer world. What began as simply storing beer in the icy cold caves (by the way, the German word for storage is lager) had developed into an entirely new beer style.
Lager became all the rage at breweries across Europe, especially in Northern Europe where the caves were sufficiently cold to produce the style. Even regions, such as Bohemia, previously known for ales, switched to making lager and one of the first new lager styles that emerged was Pilsner. The Bohemia style of Pilsner, which utilized the fragrance of the local Saaz hop to great effect, has since become the standard to which all Pilsners are compared. The Budweiser name can also trace its name to the region. Even England, a country historically known for its ale production, got into the lager act. Carlsberg was the first lager brewer in England.
Thanks to refrigeration, lager is now produced in almost every country around the world. Enjoying a cold one has never been so easy or so good.