2023 Recap: Elevating Southern Lager

We’ve seen lager styles gaining popularity across the Southeast over the last few years. During that time, we developed several different products, like Czech-style Pilsner, to help our customers build recipes that were “true to style”, but still with a touch of Southern terroir.

We’re thrilled to see more and more producers with mindfulness around expressing a sense of place in their beers, especially in malt-forward lager recipes. As 2023 comes to a close, we’re pleased about the momentum that the Southern Lager movement gained this year and excited for what’s to come in the New Year. Here are some of our 2023 highlights—

The Inaugural Southern Lager Invitational

We got an early start on the year when our friends from Bootleg Biology invited us to co-sponsor the inaugural Southern Lager Invitational late in 2022. The idea of pouring locally-sourced lagers for a large audience at the Craft Brewers Conference seemed like a perfect fit.

In the ramp up to CBC, we helped pull together close to two dozen beers from around the South. The folks at Harding House Brewing Company were incredible hosts, taking great care of everyone in attendance. The event was incredibly successful, and we’re grateful to everyone who attended.

Exciting news! We’re bringing the Southern Lager Invitational to Asheville in 2024. Stay tuned.

Southern Lager Invitational 2023


State-Level Lager Collaborations

Tampa Beer Week generated another opportunity to showcase our expanding catalog of Pilsner malts. I found myself chatting with Jason from Gulfport Brewing Company about the recently released Avalon variety from Virginia Tech. Specifically, the Pilsner batches Riverbend had released that featured a rich mouthfeel (think coconut water!) while keeping color low. The conversation turned to the Florida Brewers Conference beer collaboration that was currently underway. They were kicking around the idea of a Vienna Lager and I jumped at the chance to get involved in the project. Our Vienna Malt is one of my favorite products that doesn’t often get a chance to shine. In short, I couldn’t wait to see how this beer would turn out. 

We packed our bags and headed back to Florida for their conference in July. Randy Mosher gave a great keynote address on his latest book that dives deep into the world of beer sensory. We also got a chance to sit in on a presentation about thiolized yeast strains that helped me understand how to balance that ingredient in a recipe… very cool stuff! We also got a chance to share the Avalon story with several brewers in attendance while enjoying the Vienna Lager. It’s always helpful to have an example of a finished beer that features the ingredient you are talking about!

Next up, was another collaboration with our friends from Bootleg Biology. This time we partnered with Atrium Brewing to create a Southern Lager recipe for the Beer CANvention that was happening in Louisville. Turns out there is a fervent group of beer can collectors from around the world that get together every year to talk shop and trade memorabilia. Old school pull tab cans, coolers, t-shirts, basically anything you can think of from breweries large and small was on display at this event. 

This Southern Lager recipe featured our Cumberland Pilsner, Cumberland Corn Malt, and Great Chit. Zuper Saazer hops from Hop Head Farms that deliver a nice herbal punch and the ARL strain from Bootleg that was propagated from a site in Virginia, round out this beautiful beer. It was poured as part of the pre-conference beer festival that kicked off the festivities. A majority of the breweries in Louisville were also in attendance, so it was a great opportunity to check out their beer scene.

For our final collaboration of the year, we joined the NC Brewers Guild and Southern Pines Brewing Company to create a beer that would honor our veterans and serve as the official beer of the 10th annual NC Craft Brewers Conference. We decided on an Italian Pilsner that would feature Chesapeake Pilsner, Southern Select, Vienna, and Great Chit. Idaho Gem and Triumph hops were provided by Mill 95. Southern Pines hosted a brew day for all veteran-owned breweries in NC. The beer made its debut at the NC State Fair in October and took center stage at the awards ceremony during the conference.

Each of these projects took great strides towards establishing a place for local malt in recipes that were previously walled off for European ingredients. Our sincere hope is that fresher malt grown just a few hundred miles from the brewery will support continued innovation, elevating the idea of Southern Lager as a unique style in the years ahead.

Many thanks to everyone for supporting us this year— it means the world to us!

– Brent Manning, Co-Founder