Sunday, May 3, 2009

Tasting Notes: Little. Yellow. Different.


Despite conventional wisdom, not all pilsners are created equal. The problem—the real problem, is that in our post-prohibition America, pilsners have turned beer into a despicable four-letter word. When you think about an American Pilsner, what comes to mind? Budweiser? Coors? Miller Lite? I live in Texas, so naturally Lone Star pops up amongst those other yellow, fizzy, adjunct-laden concoctions that are being passed off poorly as beer.

Really though. Bud, Miller, Coors. These are poor examples of what a good pilsner can be. When it comes to beer, you can basically break it down to two categories: ales and lagers. This is dependent on yeast type. Top fermenting, warmer temp loving ale yeast—which produces off-flavors that complement the beer depending on the intended style, and bottom fermenting, cold temp capable lager yeast. The pilsner lager has been around since the 1840's, ever since some Bavarian started combining new lagering techniques (keeping beer cool in caves for long periods of time) and paler malts. The result was a clean tasting, clear, refreshing brew. Thanks Plzen.

Fast forward to today. Sure, you can go and get a Pilsner Urquell and experience what a green bottled, poorly handled pils tastes like, or you can have one of the big beer industry's little, yellow, canned darlings. If so, you're drinking an adjunct-grain-laden soda. Big industry beers are full of corn and rice. Despite their ability to make this shit the same every time, it is hardly beer and would definitely not fly under the Rheinheitsgebot. Beer is supposed to be water, yeast, hops, and barley malt. It is only a matter of time before beer starts having soy added to it, and then it's just a short wait for the vitamin fortification. Well, probably not. Healthy bums anyone? Not on Bud's watch.

Oskar Blues' Mama's Little Yella Pils takes a stab at the old, adjunct free style of brewing pilsner in this canned brew. This beer is refreshing and easy to drink, like most of this brewery's beers, and when poured out of its can, it resembles the many fine pilsners of the world: yellow, crystal clear, with a lacy white head. What isn't like the many fine pilsners of the world is the taste. I found it refreshing, sure, but far too sweet. Where was the hop bitterness that comes with a good Bavarian-style pilsner? Lost. Lost to the New World I suppose. This beer is good, but it kinda falls flat for me. I like the hoppy bite of the pilsner (think Live Oak Pilz). I'll buy this. I'll drink it. I'll have it on a hot day. But, realistically, I could just save a few bucks, buy a Lone Star sixer and be done with it. Truth be told, I'm an ale guy anyway. If I'm going to be shelling out ten bucks for a six pack in this economy, I may as well get my money's worth and buy the Dale's Pale Ale.

7 comments:

TexasDeb said...

I have no chops when it comes to beer/ale ranking. I just know what I like. Thanks for breaking it down.

Nothing to say about Shiner?

Flapjacks said...

i have plenty to say about shiner. only it would not be relevant to this post... ;)

Professor Conti said...

I really wouldn't put vitamins over on Annheuser-Busch. We're talking about the folks who serve up both Ziegenbock and 180 Red with Goji.

Flapjacks said...

yeah. it's only a matter of time until they put them back in beer. why take'em out in the first place. homebrew is chalked full of B vitamins. don't feed the animals and all that...

mbs said...

Smells like piss, tastes remarkably better. Overpriced. 3/5.

Shadd Scott said...

Prima Pils!

Charles Hueter said...

How about Trumer Pilsner? Light, yellow, crisp, and a definite bitter note. Subtly more sophisticated than the American mainstream. I've never sought it out, but the two pints I've had at the Flying Saucer were quite nice and I'm normally an ale guy.

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