27A. Historical Beer: Pre-Prohibition Lager

Overall Impression

A bitter and hoppy pale American adjunct lager, often with a robust, corny flavor profile, although more crisp and neutral-tasting versions exist.


Yellow to deep gold color. Substantial, long lasting white head. Bright clarity.


Low to medium grainy maltiness. Low to moderate corn-like sweetness optional. Medium to moderately-high rustic, floral, herbal, or spicy hop aroma, not modern fruity or citrusy varieties. Clean fermentation profile. May show some yeast character, similar to modern American Lager. Low DMS acceptable.


Medium to medium-high maltiness with a grainy flavor. Optional corn-like roundness and impression of sweetness. Substantial hop bitterness stands up to the malt and lingers through the dry, soft to crisp finish. Medium to high rustic, floral, herbal, or spicy hop flavor. Medium to high bitterness that is clean not coarse. No harsh aftertaste. Generally neutral fermentation profile, but some yeast character similar to American Lager is allowable.


Medium to medium-full body with a moderately rich and creamy mouthfeel. Smooth and well-lagered. Medium to high carbonation levels.


Sometimes called Classic American Pilsner. Rice-based versions have a crisper, more neutral character, and lack corn-like flavors.


An adaptation of continental lagers by immigrant German brewers in the mid-1800s in the US. Became most popular by the 1870s, but weakened in strength, bitterness, and popularity after Prohibition, and was largely replaced by Standard American Lager. Resurrected by homebrewers in the mid-1990s, but few commercial examples exist.

Characteristic Ingredients

Six-row barley. Corn or rice adjuncts, up to 30%. Traditional American or Continental hops. Modern American hops are inappropriate. Lager yeast.

Style Comparison

Similar balance and bitterness as modern Czech Premium Pale Lagers, but exhibiting native American grains and hops from the era before US Prohibition. More robust, bitter, and flavorful than modern pale American Lagers, often with higher alcohol.

Vital Statistics


25 - 40


3 - 6


1.044 - 1.060


1.010 - 1.015


4.5% - 6%

Commercial Examples

Capital Supper Club, Coors Batch 19, Little Harpeth Chicken Scratch, Schell Deer Brand, Urban Chestnut Forest Park Pilsner.