BJCP Light Lagers: (1A, 1B, 1C)

In an effort to expand on the “education” part of my “Beer Reviews, Education and Nonsense” motto, I am starting a new series of posts that will focus on beer styles.  It is my intention to write a paragraph description about each category (there are 23 categories) and each sub-category (generally there are 2 to 4 but sometimes more for each category) that will give you an overview of each style. Each description will describe the general aromas, colors and tastes you could expect to taste if you drank a beer from that style.

Admittedly, I am writing this series for self-growth and as a study guide for the beer judge certification exam and Certified Cicerone exam I will be taking later this fall. However, I thought maybe you would be interested in learning more about the specific beer styles.  I will be starting at the beginning of the Beer Judge Certification Program (BJCP) and I will examine and describe each style (even the ones I don’t like).

If you are an overachiever OR if I am not moving fast enough for you OR if you find that my descriptions are not in-depth enough for you and you just want to geek-out some more then please go to  There you will find all the information you can handle!

This week I will be describing three of the five sub categories of light lagers -BJCP style #1.  Even though this style has some outstanding craft and import examples it is dominated by American macro-brewers.  In general the first three subcategories are characterized by crystal clear, straw colored beer with low to mid alcohol, light body and refreshing.

Style 1A: Lite American Lager

It probably comes as no surprise that this is a Budmiloors love fest. The beers in this category have very little hop or malt aroma.  When poured into a glass there may be a white frothy head but it quickly dissipates.  The color ranges from pale straw to light yellow.  There may be a slight corn-like sweetness present from the use of adjunct grains – corn or rice.  The adjuncts also lighten the body and dry out the finish for a “refreshing or thirst quenching” quality.  Lite American lagers are highly carbonated which produces a “carbonic bite” and adds to the light finish and perceived bitterness.  Because these beers are generally lower in alcohol and calories they may seem watery.

Information courtesy

Vital Statistics:                 OG: 1.028 – 1.040

IBUs: 8 – 12                      FG: 0.998 – 1.008

SRM: 2 – 3                      ABV: 2.8 – 4.2%

 Commercial Examples: Bitburger Light, Sam Adams Light, Heineken Premium Light, Miller Lite, Bud Light, Coors Light, Baltika #1 Light, Old Milwaukee Light, Amstel Light

Style 1B: Standard American Lager

There is very little difference between Lite American Lagers and Standard American Lagers.  There is still very little hop or malt aroma, the white frothy head will dissipate quickly and adjuncts are still used to lighten the body and dry out the finish. Standard American lagers are also highly carbonated which increases the perceived bitterness and thirst quenching ability.

Standard American Lagers vary slightly from each other in the malty to bitterness ratio but most are balanced to appeal to the broadest range of drinkers. These beers are the big brothers to the lite lagers.  They can have a slightly higher bitterness and they can be slightly darker ranging from pale straw to a medium yellow.  These beers light to light-medium in body and are also slightly higher in alcohol.

Information courtesy

Vital Statistics:                 OG: 1.040 – 1.050

IBUs: 8 – 15                      FG: 1.004 – 1.010       

SRM: 2 – 4                      ABV: 4.2 – 5.3%

Commercial Examples: Pabst Blue Ribbon, Miller High Life, Budweiser, Baltika #3 Classic, Kirin Lager, Grain Belt Premium Lager, Molson Golden, Labatt Blue, Coors Original, Foster’s Lager


Style 1C: Premium American Lager

Premium American lagers are similar to Lite and Standard American lagers but the major difference is in the ratio of malt used to brew these beers.  Adjuncts may be used but at smaller quantities and this increases the body and darkens the beer slightly – pale straw to golden.  The increased malt proportions mean the beer will also need more hops to balance the beer’s sweetness so these beers will have an increased hop aroma (herbal or floral) and an increased bitterness.  Even with a higher bitterness level, you may perceive these beers to be maltier because the hops are used only to “cut” the malt sweetness and not make it bitter and do nothing to tamp back the malt flavor.  These beers are still highly carbonated and refreshing but the increased malt proportion increases the body and makes these beers a little more filling.

Information courtesy

Vital Statistics:                 OG: 1.046 – 1.056

IBUs: 15 – 25                    FG: 1.008 – 1.012       

SRM: 2 – 6                      ABV: 4.6 – 6%

Commercial Examples: Full Sail Session Premium Lager, Miller Genuine Draft, Corona Extra, Michelob, Coors Extra Gold, Birra Moretti, Heineken, Beck’s, Stella Artois, Red Stripe, Singha

Bolded beers are my personal recommendations.

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