Thursday, February 2, 2023

Tasting Notes: Pa's Lager (2022)

One of my Brew Year's Resolutions for 2023 is off to a great start! If you count the blog refresh I am working on, that's two. 

Harp Lager and Pa's Lager.

In addition to writing down somewhat detailed sensory notes on this batch of Pa's Lager, I picked up a commercial example to compare it to: Harp Lager. I love Guinness, and brewed in Ireland, Harp Lager was Guinness' first foray into lager brewing. I thought it was a good choice here for a couple of reasons. Presumably both beers were made with malt from the British Isles: Pa's Lager with Muntons Pilsner malt, and Harp with Irish barley malted by Guinness. I also wanted to revisit Harp after making my cheap lager tier list

These notes aren't necessarily going to be as detailed as I would write if judging in a competition. I am also not going to score the beer. The tasting notes on the commercial calibration beer will be more focused on how it compares to my beer, than it is evaluating the commercial beer in and of itself. 

Tasting notes:


  • Pa's Lager: Med-low malty sweet aroma: honey and light bread crust. Low herbal hop aroma. Overall subtle but nice complexity. 
  • Harp: More straw and herbal hop aroma than Pa's Lager. Hop aroma still medium-low. 

Harp (L) had a more frothy head with better retention.


  • Pa's Lager: Straw to yellow with very good clarity. Foamy white head with moderate retention and good lacing 
  • Harp: Color maybe slightly darker, and clarity brilliant. Head more frothy than foamy. Retention is better, likely caused by etched glass. 


  • Pa's Lager: Slightly malt focused: Italian bread, pound cake.  Med-low hop flavor and bitterness, enough to balance. Flavor herbal and grassy, but not in a bad way. Fermentation super clean. Finishes a touch dry. 
  • Harp: Doughy malt flavor with low malty sweetness. Med low hop bitterness and flavor. Finishes clean to slightly sweet. 


  • Pa's Lager: Lightbody, Med-low carb, feels a little low for style. 
  • Harp: Med body with medium carbonation. 


  • Pa's Lager: Initially I thought it straddled the line between Int’l Pale Lager and German Pils, but I think hop character is restrained enough. Previous batches were less dry and had more residual malt character. 
  • Harp: Very similar to my beer. The Harp has a little more hop aroma, but a little less hop flavor. The difference in body makes Harp feel more like a Helles, and Pa’s Lager more like a Pils. These differences are very subtle. My beer fits the style well and should do well in competition. 

This batch of Pa's Lager did finish at 1.006. Based off an original gravity of 1.050, means it attenuated at over 85%. For this style it still works. The first thing BJCP Guidelines say about the overall impression of an International Pale Lager is "A highly attenuated pale lager". I do remember earlier batches having more body and malt flavor.

I am very happy with the clarity and clean fermentation character. I am willing to bet that Guinness filters Harp Lager, and may well use finings in the fermenter. Other than a pinch of Irish moss in the kettle, the clarity in Pa's Lager is purely the result of six weeks of lagering.

I will be sending this off to a competition and am interested to see how it does.

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