Hit Refresh: The rise of craft lagers

A good lager is truly a magical thing - or so its creators believed when an accidental ferment 500 years ago resulted in the creation of a previously-unknown beer sensation.

The classic lager has been around for a very long time. The first lagers were created in the 1500s, when brewers in Germany discovered that storing beer in cold caves for long periods created a wonderfully mellow brew. Yeast hadn't been discovered yet, so fermentation was seen as 'magic', which in a way it was - an unknown wild yeast that existed in the caves made the perfect environment for beer-making.

That magic has come a long way in the past 500 years. While fruit, chocolate, lactose and hops are all utilised to make maximum flavour and that 'boom' experience of intense beer drinking, there has been a quiet swing of the pendulum away from the exotic, and back towards the traditional, clean and crisp lagers.

There's a reason pale lager has been one of the most enduring styles throughout the centuries: smooth, balanced, refreshingly dry beers are, quite frankly, delicious. As a result, craft brewers are now treating lager with the same respect and care they gave to IPA a decade ago; staying true to style and letting the beer 'mature' by storing it at cool temperatures for up to six weeks. Two of New Zealand's more dedicated craft breweries, Liberty and Panhead, are going a step further in shaping their take on popular Japanese rice lager - Panhead with Sucky Monmon and Liberty with Divine Wind. These are a breath of fresh air, showcasing all that's great about a well-made lager.