Water, malted barley, yeast, and hops…. these are the four ingredients necessary to make the perfect beer according to the “1516 Bavarian Law of Purity” enacted by Duke Wilhelm IV, who ruled the Bavarian region of Germany from 1508-1550. Today in the United States, the possibilities are endless when it comes to what you might find brewed into your favorite beer, from the rich chocolatey notes of a stout to the fruity essences of a good sour, American beer is as diverse as the people who make up this country.
Still, there are brewers committed to keeping these original brewing ideas and traditions alive, like the Bavarian style lager crafted by Red Oak Brewery based in the Triad region of North Carolina. At Red Oak, they are dedicated to helping everyone experience that traditional lager envisioned by the Germans. All of their beers are of that lager style, making them the largest lager-only brewery in the country.
In celebration of American Craft Beer Week, we had the chance to tour the facility and speak with their workers at all levels of production, including the brewmaster, the owner, and the taproom manager, ahead of our upcoming event celebrating the return of spring, their wonderful beer, and all things North Carolina. Yelp’s Lager than Life Spring Festival is taking place on Saturday, May 21, 2022 from 4-7pm at the Red Oak Lager Haus and Biergarten. For more information and to RSVP for this event, visit our event page.
If you were teaching someone about the different styles of beer, how would you distinguish a lager from other entries?
“It’s all about the yeast. Lager is the German word for storage. Lagers are fermented at cold temperatures which prolongs the process. Our traditional lagers ferment for over 5 weeks. Ales are fermented warm and fast. Many ales are produced in 5 days.”
Red Oak only produces lager and is the top lager-only beer maker in the country, what inspired your decision to focus on this style above all others?
“Even though 97% of the brew pubs and micros in America make English style ales because they are easier and cheaper to brew; we wanted to make lagers, the most popular style throughout the world… even in England. Not only were we intent on brewing lagers; we wanted to focus exclusively on the rich, mellow, Bavarian Lagers known throughout the world for their drinkability. In addition to brewing according to the Law of Purity, we decided not to filter or pasteurize our Bavarian lagers to ensure that rich flavor and mellow taste.”
Classic Red Oak is described as a Bavarian lager, your Lager Haus design mirrors that German influence, and you even have a sausage haus on site! What drew you to this theme?
“You can’t go wrong with simple food that is prepared well. A delicious brat, a soft pretzel, and yummy beer cheese is a trio that is meant to be enjoyed in our beautiful Biergarten.”
Pairing alcohol with food is something many of us indulge in. What is the perfect food to eat with your Lagers?
“It depends on the Lager, for me I enjoy our Hummingbird brew with almost any dish. One of my favorite pairings is a classic Red Oak and a hamburger!”
You’re a proud North Carolina brewery and one of the first to really make a name for themselves in the Triad before the craft beer revolution of the last couple of decades began. What drew you to the Greensboro area?
“We saw economic expansion and growth opportunities in the Triad, and wanted to be conveniently located centrally in our state, making us a great stop for travelers.”
Someone has just poured their first Red Oak and taken the first sip, what would you hope they would say about it in their Yelp review?
“Wow! That’s the best beer I’ve ever tasted!”
Is there anything else you’d like our readers to know about Red Oak, lager as a style, or anything we’ve not covered yet in our questions?
“Drink more Red Oak.”