In the sun-soaked state of Arizona, it’s only natural to reach for something refreshing such as Four Peaks’ Golden Lager. The Munich Helles style could find a home pretty much anywhere. It’s one of the most common beers of Bavaria, with “helles” simply meaning “bright” in German. It would be downright blasphemous for a brewery in Arizona to not have a Helles on its tap list, especially Four Peaks, which has been around since 1996, and now has locations in Phoenix and Scottsdale, in addition to its original in Tempe.
Golden Lager has been in Four Peaks’ lineup for two decades and features a simple can design that could pass for being its 1990s-era label. The cursive lettering catches your eye, frankly, because it’s the only thing on the label. Golden Lager pours a deep golden-yellow, with little-to-no lacing.
There’s no overpowering odor to be had here. Golden Lager smells, exactly as it should, of yeast and barley. If anything, a faint whiff of vanilla makes its way out of the glass.
It almost reminds me of Spotted Cow, another beer that is no stranger to mistaken identity.”
Golden Lager could easily be confused for a cream ale. It isn’t crisp. Instead, the body is smooth and mellow with a light, lemony finish. Restraint is on display here, as Four Peaks’ malt is the most prominent characteristic, but it isn’t overbearing. It’s a well-balanced beer that is creamy and still dry enough. It almost reminds me of Spotted Cow, another beer that is no stranger to mistaken identity, being a farmhouse ale with the qualities of a cream ale.
Four Peaks’ Golden Lager could be Spotted Cow’s sister beer in the west, without the instantly recognizable name and the cachet of being available only in-state. Unless it gets an attention-grabbing name change, Golden Lager will have to settle for being an any-day accessory to the dry Arizona heat.