Taste the History: Old-Style Lager’s Rich Heritage

Old fashioned , a classic and timeless that has been enjoyed for centuries. Its rich history and unique techniques have made it a staple in the world of craft beer. In this article, we will delve into the origins of old fashioned beer, its brewing process, and why it continues to be a favorite among beer enthusiasts.

Before the 1870s, beer was typically served at room temperature in the European tradition. Unlike the cold, carbonated beers we are accustomed to today, old fashioned beer was enjoyed without the frothy head and extreme chill. Patrons would have to savor their beer quickly to prevent it from getting too warm or flat.

One iconic brand that represents the essence of old fashioned beer is Old Style . Brewed by Heileman, this beer has a rich history dating back to before Prohibition. In fact, during Prohibition, Heileman had to discontinue Old Style Lager and introduced a new brand called New Style Lager, which contained less than 0.5% . This near-beer, along with syrups, helped the company survive the dark times of Prohibition. Fortunately, Old Style Lager returned after the ban was lifted, continuing to captivate beer lovers with its traditional taste.

The brewing process of old fashioned beer involves several steps, each contributing to its unique flavor profile. It all starts with the mash, where is heated to a specific temperature. This water is then mixed with malted grains, such as barley, to extract the sugars necessary for fermentation. The result is a sweet liquid known as wort.

After the mash, the wort is sparged. This involves rinsing the grains with hot water to extract any remaining sugars. This step ensures maximum flavor extraction and efficiency in the brewing process.

The next crucial step is the boil. The wort is brought to a boil and are added. Hops not only provide bitterness to balance the sweetness of the malt, but they also contribute to the aroma and flavor of the beer. The length of the boil and the specific hops used can greatly influence the final product.

Once the boil is complete, the wort is cooled and transferred to a fermentation vessel. Yeast is added, which consumes the sugars in the wort and produces alcohol and carbon dioxide. This process can take several days to weeks, depending on the desired flavor and alcohol content.

Now, let's talk about the unique characteristics of old fashioned beer. One standout feature is the use of aging in bourbon . This technique imparts a distinct flavor and aroma to the beer, with hints of caramel and vanilla. The aging process also allows for the integration of the beer with the flavors of the barrels, creating a truly complex and satisfying beverage.

To further enhance the flavor, some brewers add additional ingredients during fermentation. For example, fresh cherry puree can be introduced towards the end of fermentation. This adds a fruity and slightly tart note to the beer, complementing the rich caramel malts and bourbon flavors. Additionally, aromatic bitters can be added during barrel aging, providing a subtle bitterness and further layering the flavors.

Old fashioned beer is a timeless beverage with a rich history and unique brewing process. Its traditional serving temperature and distinct flavor profile make it stand out in the world of craft beer. Whether you prefer a classic Old Style Lager or a interpretation with added ingredients, old fashioned beer continues to captivate beer enthusiasts with its depth and complexity. So, the next time you're craving a satisfying and flavorful brew, consider reaching for an old fashioned beer and experience the taste of tradition.

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What Is An Old Fashioned Beer?

An old fashioned beer refers to a style of beer that is inspired by the classic cocktail, the Old Fashioned. This type of beer typically combines elements of a traditional beer with flavors and characteristics reminiscent of an Old Fashioned cocktail.

The brewing process for an old fashioned beer often involves adding fresh cherry puree during fermentation, which imparts a fruity and slightly sweet taste to the beer. Additionally, the beer is typically aged in bourbon barrels, which infuses it with the rich flavors of bourbon. To further enhance the cocktail-like experience, aromatic bitters are also added during the aging process.

The malt profile of an old fashioned beer usually consists of caramel malts, which contribute to its rich and slightly sweet flavor. These malts also help to balance out the bourbon and fruit flavors, creating a complex and satisfying taste profile.

An old fashioned beer is a unique and interesting take on a traditional beer style. It combines the elements of a classic cocktail with the brewing process, resulting in a beer that offers a blend of fruity, herbal, caramel, and bourbon flavors. The end result is a complex and satisfying beer that is sure to please those who appreciate both classic cocktails and traditional beer.


Old-fashioned beer has a rich history and a unique character that sets it apart from modern brews. From its traditional brewing methods to its distinctive flavors, old-fashioned beer offers a glimpse into the past and a taste of nostalgia.

Before the advent of modern brewing techniques, beer was served at room temperature, without the frothy head we are accustomed to today. This meant that patrons had to drink their beer quickly to avoid it becoming warm or flat. This fast-paced drinking style added to the social atmosphere of beer halls and pubs, creating a lively and energetic environment.

During Prohibition, breweries like Heileman had to get creative to survive. They introduced New Style Lager, a near-beer with less than 0.5% alcohol, to keep their business running. This adaptation allowed them to weather the storm and eventually bring back their beloved Old Style Lager once Prohibition was lifted.

Old-fashioned beer also embraces traditional brewing ingredients and techniques. Caramel malts provide a rich and robust flavor profile, while herbal and fruity notes add complexity to the taste. The addition of cherry puree and aging in bourbon barrels with aromatic bitters further enhances the beer's depth and character.

Old-fashioned beer offers a unique drinking experience that combines history, tradition, and a touch of innovation. Whether enjoyed in a cozy pub or at a backyard gathering, this classic cocktail will satisfy both beer enthusiasts and those looking for a taste of the past. So, raise a glass to old-fashioned beer and enjoy the rich flavors that have stood the test of time.

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Thomas Ashford

Thomas Ashford is a highly educated brewer with years of experience in the industry. He has a Bachelor Degree in Chemistry and a Master Degree in Brewing Science. He is also BJCP Certified Beer Judge. Tom has worked hard to become one of the most experienced brewers in the industry. He has experience monitoring brewhouse and cellaring operations, coordinating brewhouse projects, and optimizing brewery operations for maximum efficiency. He is also familiar mixology and an experienced sommelier. Tom is an expert organizer of beer festivals, wine tastings, and brewery tours.