You might not sidle up to a bar and order a pint of “American macro lager,” but that’s a lot of what we drink today. American macro lager is the catch-all term for American beers brewed by the big (giant) commercial breweries, usually with adjunct malts, the goal being a crisper, “cleaner” lager flavor profile. Think Bud, Coors, Pabst, Miller Lite—though the style does have some increasing variety.

Lite American (Macro / Adjunct) Lager

  • Color: Very pale straw to pale gold
  • ABV: 3.5%-4.5%
  • Commercial Examples: Bud Light, Coors Light, Miller Lite

This is the stuff of summertime beer commercials, the stuff that’s advertised to you as part of a healthy, party-time lifestyle where 64 calories of beer are the reward for Spin class. Brewed in the lager style (meaning the result is cleaner, crisper, with few fruity esters as a result of the low-and-slow yeast activity), the flavors tends to pale here thanks to the use of cereal adjuncts in the malt bill (things like corn and rice used to lighten the caloric impact). Usually heavily carbonated and recommended served “ice cold” (or as cold as some mountain range) to mask lack of depth and to up refreshment. There’ll be some flavors from the grain and maybe low hops but the general goal is quenching, maybe slightly mindless drinkability—not always a bad goal.

American (Macro / Adjunct) Lager

  • Color: Pale straw to pale gold
  • ABV: 4.5%-6%
  • Commercial Examples: Budweiser, Pabst Blue Ribbon, Corona Extra, Coors, Miller High Life, Red Stripe Jamaican Lager, Tecate, Modelo Especial

Many American lagers are “adjunct” lagers, meaning they’re brewed, like Lite Lagers, with some amount of corn or rice (e.g.) to lighten to flavor profile. With classic American adjunct lagers the goal isn’t fewer calories but a certain “crisp” flavor profile (think Bud, Corona, Tecate). You won’t get much in the way of complex malt but maybe some spiciness from hops and, again, a lot of carbonation. On the other hand, American “all malt” lagers, aka premium lagers, tend to use fewer to no adjuncts, implying a fuller flavor profile that should still be fairly relaxed. No aggressive hops or malt, just a bit more body in what’s still a thirst-quenching, high-carbonation beer.