Recently in Pilsener Category

Jack's Abby/Otter Creek Joint Custody

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Collaborations always sound fun, but they can be tricky beasts. Sure, it's always cool to see two brewers hang out and have some fun, but I've found the results to be a little hit or miss. Collaborations seem like opportunities to let loose and experiment, so it makes sense that such exercises don't always yield gold. They're rarely bad, but a lot of them just feel like they're floating in a nether-region, not really representing either brewer's character very well. Sometimes, though, you get something harmonious, more than the sum of its collaborators. Is this collaboration between the lager focused Jack's Abby and the recently rejiggered hopheads at Otter Creek one of those harmonious combinations? It's certainly one of the better collaborations I've had recently and these two brewers seem to retain their identity whilst still producing something new.

Label sez this is a "nouveau Pilsner" and it lives up to that name by incorporating a pretty traditional Pilsner lager (presumably Jack's Abby at work) with two new German hops called Huell Melon and Mandarina Bavaria. It turns out that American "special" aroma hop mania has spread to traditional noble hop growers in Germany, who released these two daughters of Cascade hops in 2012. I've had Mandarina in a few things before, but I haven't even heard of Huell Melon. Both are supposed to introduce citrusy characteristics to the more traditional German herbal hop profile. I didn't realize this when tasting it below, and called these "bright European hops", which I actually think fits pretty well. Let's take a closer look:

Jacks Abby and Otter Creek Joint Custody

Jack's Abby/Otter Creek Joint Custody - Pours a mostly clear pale yellow color with a finger of dense white head, great retention, and some lacing too. Smell features some grainy character along with what I'll call bright European hops (meaning that it's not like American or NZ/Australian citrus/pine bombs, but it's got a citrusy vibe to it), citrus zest and some earthy, herbal notes. Taste has some biscuity character, those citrus and herbal hop notes from the nose come out here too, a little sweetness amply balanced out by earthy bittering hops in the dry finish (not like a heavy handed IPA; more balanced and clean). Mouthfeel is light, crisp, and clean, relatively dry, with a certain quenching feel to it. Overall, another nice take on the style, I might become a lager man yet. B+

Beer Nerd Details: 6.2% ABV canned (12 ounce). Drank out of a Willibecher glass on 8/21/15.

Certainly a worthy collaboration, and both of these brewers are pretty good in my book. Look for more Jack's Abby reviews in the nearish future...

Pizza Beer Club

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Tonight was beer club! For the uninitiated, beer club is a monthly gathering of like-minded coworkers and acquaintances at a local BYOB for drinks, food, and fun. This time we went to a favorite discovery of mine, Ravanesi Pizzaria, a tiny little joint out in the burbs that scratch makes almost everything. Pizza places are a dime a dozen around here, but these guys really distinguish themselves. It's one of those places where they open at 4:30 pm and close whenever they run out of dough. Yes, it takes approximately 30 hours to make the dough, so they do run out fairly frequently. As a veteran BYOB attendee (because of beer club), most places aren't so busy on Tuesdays and thus welcome a bunch of beer nerds who take up a table and drink a lot of beer whilst occasionally munching on their food. This place was pretty much bumping from around 5 pm until we left at around 8 pm. But the pizza. The pizza is almost absurdly good. And it's not like Philly is bad at pizza (there's plenty of bad pizza, but we've got our hotspots). Check it:

ravanesi-pizza.jpg

A most excellent backdrop for beer club.For the sake of posterity, some thoughts on each beer we had are below. Usual nerdy disclaimers apply, this was not ideal tasting conditions and I didn't exactly take detailed notes, so take it all with the requisite mountain of salt. In order of drinking, not necessarily how they appear in the photo:

August Beer Club at Ravanesi Pizza

  • Otter Creek/Jack's Abby Joint Custody - Yep, it's a pilsner, but it's a pretty darn good one, crisp, light, and refreshing. Certainly a step up from your typical macro, and perhaps worthy of a closer look this next weekend. B+
  • Night Shift Santilli - A rock solid IPA, nice citrus and dank pine character, nice and crushable. B+
  • Two Roads Road Jam Raspberry Wheat Ale - Holy hell, this is terrible. Robitussin tones, artificial raspberry flavor, and the like. Perhaps not quite that bad, but not at all good. D
  • Vault Mosaic Imperial IPA - Does this sound familiar? Of course it does, I just reviewed it yesterday. In fact, it performed supremely well in this tasting format, pairing well with the spicy Sopressata pizza and just generally standing up to the other beers pretty well. May be tempted to raise this one to an A-
  • Night Shift Trifecta - Brewed with three Trappist ale yeasts, I found this a bit disappointing. It's got some decent Belgian yeast character, but it isn't quite carbonated or dry enough to really work well. Disappointing C+
  • Smuttynose Spank - For a beer that labels itself as a "hoppy saison", I have to admit that I find little in the way of hops here, even if it's an otherwise unremarkable beer that is far from bad, but which won't exactly light the world on fire. B-
  • Adroit Theory Ortolan Bunting - A very odd beer, almost quad-like, but without the full fruit character, but a very nice nose that doesn't quite live up to the straightforward taste, with some dark malts, perhaps even some smoked malt. Fine, but not quite a top tier effort. B
  • Lickinghole Creek Enlightened Despot - One of the best beers of the night, a clear winner, Pappy 15 barrel aged imperial stout, is quite tasty, very sweet, loads of coconut and vanilla from that barrel, delicious stuff. A-
  • Smuttlabs Durtay - Smuttynose - A rum barrel aged brown ale, this one works pretty darn well, very sweet, a little boozy, but a nice barrel and molasses character comes through too. B+
And that just about covers it. I really love this pizza and want to come here as often as possible, but it's also a little out of the way, so I'm guessing it won't be quite as regular as some other BYOB places. Still worth the trip though, so we'll see...

Lost Nation Vermont Pilsner

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In keeping with the recent thawing of my relationship to lagers and in particular, pilsners, we've got another offering from Vermont's wonderful Lost Nation brewing. The name Vermont Pilsner initially inspired some speculation on my part as to what would make this worthy of a Vermont appellation. It could just be that Lost Nation is in Vermont, but maybe it means that they'd apply a liberal dose of American hops (the way Switchback did). Well, no, it's just that it's made in Vermont.

Bunnies like hoppy beer

They wanted to create a "Franconia-style" Pilsner, which basically means a German take on the style. I'm no expert on Pilsners, but my impression is that the German Pilsner is a somewhat looser style (harder water and any noble hops will do) than the original Czech Pilsner (soft water and almost always Saaz hops). I bought a 4-pack on Operation Cheddar IV, and I think it's a sign that they're all gone, so let's take a closer look:

Lost Nation Vermont Pilsner

Lost Nation Vermont Pilsner - Pours a clear, pale straw yellow color with a couple fingers of fluffy, bubbly head that sticks around for a while. Smell is earthy, grassy hops, clearly a traditional pils nose, but there might be a hint of something like Cascade peeking in (certainly not dominant, and there's not much citrus, but the more earthy or floral notes could certainly play a role). Taste is very clean, again with the earthy, grassy hops, almost spicy at times, some pleasant bitterness in the finish. Mouthfeel is crisp, light bodied, and refreshing, a lawnmower beer for sure, and quaffable too. Overall, I've never been much of a pils guy, and while this doesn't light my world on fire, I find it refreshing and it does make me want to drink more lagers. B+

Beer Nerd Details: 4.8% ABV canned (16 ounce pounder). Drank out of a willibecher glass on 8/7/15. Canned 06/18/15.

Another winner from Lost Nation, a brewery that's made quite an impression in a rather short period of time (for me, at least). I look forward to returning there during Operation Cheddar V, whenever that may be (and not just for the beer, their food is amazing too).

Switchback Citra-Pils

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I won't lie. Lagers have never really been my thing. Maybe it's because I drank entirely too much fizzy yellow stuff in my misbegotten youth and mass-produced adjunct lagers just ruined the flavor profile for me. However, we're capricious and whimsical here at Kaedrin, and as a result, I've had a couple of great experiences with lagers in the past month or so. Experience the first: At a local beeratorium, I tasked some friends with purchasing me a beer and not telling me anything about it. I made a pitstop, and when I came back, they gave me a glass filled with pale liquid. I sniffed it and immediately pegged it as a lager... but it turned out to be Captain's Kolsch (not technically a lager, but it certainly shares a flavor profile) and I genuinely enjoyed it (may review it sometime, but don't hold your breath). Experience the second was a glorious pint of Pivovar Kout Koutská 12° Dvanáctka from Operation Chowder. I mean, I'm not completely abandoning my typical rotation of Saison/IPA/Stout in favor of lagers and Kolsches, but it's nice to change things up every once in a while and get out of your comfort zone.

To that end, when in Vermont for Operation Cheddar III: Cheddar Harder, I took a flier on this Pilsener (or is it a Keller Bier? The label sez both!? Gah!) from Vermont stalwarts Switchback brewing. It starts off as a pretty typical Pilsener; lots of pale malt and Saaz hops. The curve ball here is that after the traditional 6 week lagering period (i.e. cold conditioning after fermentation), Switchback dry hopped with Citra and more Saaz. The result is a nice little compromise between an IPA and Pilsener, well worth checking out if you get the chance, even if it won't make you fall down and see God.

Switchback Citra-Pils

Switchback Citra-Pils - Pours a gorgeous, clear, almost radiant yellow gold color with a finger of fluffy white head that sticks around for a bit. Smells of clean, grassy, hay-like hops with plenty of citrus making itself known. As it warms, more of the typical Saaz herbal and spicy hop notes come through too. Taste starts off very clean, with just a hint of hops that intensifies through the finish, where you get some more traditional lager-like character and some hop bitterness. Taste is more Saaz than Citra, lots of spicy and herbal notes, but there's enough Citra to make it feel like I'm not drinking anything close to a typical adjunct lager. Mouthfeel is well carbonated, medium bodied up front and thinning out in the backend, certainly quaffable stuff. Overall, I really enjouyed this beer and am glad I made the stretch. B+

Beer Nerd Details: 5% ABV bottled (22 ounce bomber). Drank out of a teku glass on 6/19/15. No date on bottle, but it was first sold in May 2015, so this was reasonably fresh.

I enjoyed this more than their normal flagship Switchback Ale, and would love to check out more from these folks. Perhaps we'll snag something during the imminent Operation Cheddar IV: Smoked Cheddar.

Tonight was Beer Club, a gathering of beer minded folk from my work who get together every month at a local BYOB for drinkening and fun. Minor error in tonight's choice of establishment in that it's summertime, so it's super hot, and this place isn't air conditioned. Great pizza and sandwiches though. It actually wasn't that bad, but it's off the list for summer events from nows on... Anywho, solid turnout and lots of great beer. I event remembered to take a picture (unlike last month):

Beer Club - July 2013

One of my friends was all scared about what she should bring and so she was trying to downplay her contribution, but then was all "So my friend from Vermont thought you might like this," and pulled out two cans of Heady Topper. She wins beer club.

For the sake of posterity, random thoughts on each beer below. Standard disclaimers regarding small samples and less than ideal conditions, but don't worry, next month we're renting out sensory deprivation chambers and using industrial grade palate cleansers between each sip. But for now, you'll have to settle for imperfection:

  • Kona Wailua Wheat - A pretty straightforward take on a wheat beer, unremarkable, but a nice first taste for the night. B-
  • The Alchemist Heady Topper - Hard to believe, but I actually scored a 4 pack of this stuff last week, so there will be a more detailed review in the next couple days. In short, it's superb. Stay tuned for more (review probably posted on Thursday). A
  • San Miguel Pale Pilsen - From the best beer of the night to the worst. This was actually a can of beer from 2007. Vintage! A friend at work visited the Philippines and brought a couple of us back a can of this stuff. It's pretty generic, bland pilsner stuff, but let's just say there's a reason you don't age pilseners. It's actually not undrinkable, but it's definitely started to get that apple-like off flavor and not something I'd ever want to drink except in small quantities as a joke, like it was tonight. D
  • Professor Fritz Briem 1809 Berliner Weisse - From unintentionally sour and bad to intentionally sour and pretty damn good. One of my contributions! Berliner Weisse (translates to "Jelly Donut Wheat") is a style that's hit or miss for me, but this one is a definite hit, and it was perfect for the hot summer night. Super light, crisp, refreshing tartness, really nice. Definitely worth trying. B+ or A-
  • Horny Goat Watermelon Wheat - Watermelon can work in beer, but it did not work at all for me here. It had this weird artificial twang to it coupled with a sorta almost spicy note? Really weird and unpleasant. Lots of strange faces made around the group, though one person liked it enough. Me, I give it a D
  • Ommegang Fleur De Houblon - One of the recent Ommegang releases that I've been slacking on, this one is a pretty straightforward Belgian Pale Ale, with a nice floral hop character, maybe some herbalness, but it all matches well with Ommegang's standard Belgian yeast flavors (spicy and banana). I wouldn't describe it as super hoppy, and there isn't a lot of bitterness, but there are some hop flavors here. Not an amazing beer, but definitely worth drinking. B
  • Jolly Pumpkin Baudelaire IO - One of my contributions and a beer I've reviewed before. Yep, still a great beer, more fruity and less funky than I remember, but that may be a function of drinking a bunch of other beers and eating food and whatnot. Still fantastic, no matter what, and everyone seemed to enjoy it and would come back to this after some of the next beers (though one person noted that the label artist was stealing the style of another artist!) Still an A- in my book, and I've got another one in the cellar just in case I want another taste.
  • Heavy Seas Holy Sheet (Brandy Barrel) - I like it. It's got a typical Belgian dubbel sorta vibe, but nice rich, boozy Brandy notes hit at the front of the taste before those raisins and molasses kick in during the middle to finish. It was a little too warm when we opened it, but I'll give it a solid B+ for now.
  • New Holland Envious - I got a very cough syrupy vibe off this thing, which wasn't the grossest beer evar, but not particularly great either. The fruit comes through a bit, but there's that syrupy feel that sorta drags it down, and I didn't get much oak at all. Actually very disappointing. I suppose my palate could have potentially been shot by this point, but it still was not very good. D
  • Victory Otto in Oak - My last contribution, I was a little worried about this because I hadn't tried it since it first came out (when I loved it) and I'd traded a few of them out recently, so I was curious to see how it's held up. Apparently pretty well! Indeed, the smoke has faded even more than it had when I first tried it, and the rich bourbon and oak character was really nice. It's not something that beer nerds will go completely wild over, but I really enjoy it and think it retains the A- rating I initially gave it.
At this point I got a phone call telling my that my neighbors (the folks who live under me) had water dripping into their condo, so I had to leave (fortunately, I think we were mostly finished at this point). It turns out that the water leak was not coming from my condo, so all is well at Kaedrin HQ. Stay tuned, some exciting beer on its way, including that Heady Topper review (so good). So all in all, a successful night and naturally, already looking forward to the next meeting.

Tired Hands Anniversary

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Today was Tired Hands' one year anniversary, and they had a big shindig featuring lots of fantastic beers. As per usual, their events are a bit of a madhouse, but they did a good job keeping up with the demand, and it helps that the new and special beers they were serving were nothing short of spectacular. Big congratulations to Tired Hands for living up to lofty expectations and establishing themselves as the best brewer in the area.

Lunch of Champions: Only Void and an Everything Pretzel
Yummy Everything Pretzel paired with Hophands mustard and Only Void

I had quite a few things today, and for shits and giggles, I'll include stuff I've had from the past few months as well, because why not? Yeah, I suppose the fact that most of them are already gone forever is a pretty good reason not to dwell on them, but how else am I to make my readers jealous?

St.Oner - No picture! Sorry about that! One of Tired Hands' typically fantastic IPAs. It's getting very hard to judge these against one another, as they're all so damn good. The big twist with this one is a very juicy citrus character, presumably from the hops but also maybe some fresh fruit. Pleasant bitterness, and at 6.5% ABV it was downright quaffable and refreshing on a hot day. A-

Romulon

Romulon - Wow, this is a beautiful gueuze-like sour blend (wine barrel fermented Saison and fresh Saison). Very nice oak character, a bright but not overwhelming sourness, tart fruits, just fantastic! While technically a saison, I'd put it right up there with some of the fantastic gueuzes I've been having lately. Indeed, this is probably a contender for my favorite Tired Hands beer ever (even though that's a sorta impossible choice!) A

Only Void

Only Void - Tired Hands has a little fermentation chalkboard and I feel like this beer has been sitting on there since last year. A massive 12% imperial stout conditioned on stainless steel (there are some barrel aged variants coming), pours black with tan head. Nice roasty nose, dark chocolate is there too (and becomes more pronounced as I drink), maybe a hint of coffee in the nose too. Taste has that well balanced roast and coffe note, some earthiness, but also lots of chocolate and some rich caramel and maybe even some hop bitterness in the finish. Really well balanced flavors for such a monster beer. Mouthfeel is rich, full bodied, and smooth. It's not quaffable or anything, and it would work as a dessert sipper, but it's pretty easy going for something this big. Only a slight alcohol warming in the belly... Because I drank too quickly! Overall, it's a fantastic imperial stout. A

Our Berry Vest

Our Berry Vest - A blend of the aforementioned Only Void and a strong brown ale called "So It Goes" (which I've never seen or had before) conditioned on fresh strawberries. At 11.5% ABV, this is no fru-fru beer, and it actually has some sour notes to go along with the fruity strawberry. Really interesting beer, it's got the Only Void notes of roast and dark chocolate softened considerably by a sour fruity character, strawberries coming through clearly, much lighter body than Only Void, but still a big beer. An almost chocolate covered strawberry feel (ok, perhaps not quite like that, but still really good). Great variation on the theme. Glad I sprung for this one. A-

And that covers what I managed to greedily gulp down today. In order to fan the flames of jealousy, here's some more stuff that I've had over the past couple months...

The Light That Spills Out of the Whole in Your Head - In the running for weirdest/awesomest beer name. A 6% citrus pale ale, great juicy hop character full of citrus, really easy drinking and refreshing. One of the few beers Tired Hands has brewed more than once (I think! I know I had this before, but for some reason, never recapped it). A-

Tralfamadorian - They called this a 6.8% barrel fermented biere de garde, but it basically feels like a lighter bodied Flanders Red. Whoa, robey tones, dense tan head, pretty. Taste is reminiscent of Domo, sorta a Flemish red, but with slightly less body. Light on the oak, some sharp sourness, but not overwhelming. Nice sour cherry notes, really well done. A-

Station - A 5.8% Simcoe IPA? Sign me up! Cloudy straw yellow, beautiful grapefruit citrus nose, ditto in taste, with some light herbal notes too. Light and quaffable, very nice! Grading on a curve: B+

Wiggle Wurm - 9.2% DIPA, clear golden yellow, citrus & pine hop aroma, very sweet on the palate, sticky but not cloying. Solid! B+

Wisdom Teeth - Darwin Solera series number 4, a 6% Brett pale ale. This series is seriously mellowing out with each new installment. It's still got that funky salinity, but it's more well rounded and integrated. It's a fun series of beers, highly drinkable stuff and getting better with each iteration. B+

My Briefcase Says "Time Is Money" - Another fantastic name. It's a 5.7% Black IPA, nice drinkable beer, not as hoppy as you'd expect, but not super roasty either, striking an interesting balance. B+

Eye 4A Face - A 4.5% dry hopped farmhouse mild conditioned on oak. Dark golden hues, nice citrus hops in the nose, taste more malt focused, maybe a hint of oak, plenty of bitterness, easy drinking. B+

CuzCuz - Southern Hemisphere IPA filled with New Zealand hops, etc - Super cloudy straw yellow, bright citrus and herbal hops, floral too, really nice, easy drinking stuff... B+

Tabula Rasa - Classic modern saison at 6.2% ABV. I got a super yeasty pour, almost milky looking, Jean said that happens sometimes and it's really annoying because he has to sacrifice a bunch of beer to get past the yeast plug. It was drinkable, but he gave me another glass after he cleared the line some. Once I got a proper glass, it was still super cloudy, but at least it was yellow! Nice peppery yeast in the nose, a lot like Farmhands. Taste has that big saison yeast character, spicy sweet, similar to Farmhands but a bit more body. Medium bodied, smooth, spicy, very nice. Overall, really nice. B+

Pineal - Mosaic Amarillo Simcoe IPA at 6%, this may be my first real Mosaic hopped beer? Can that be? Well if this is any indication, I'm going to have to seek out some more! Bright cloudy yellow, beautiful nose, citrus, pine, nice floral aspect, great nose. Taste has nice sweetness, big juicy citrus notes, pine and floral notes too. Great beer. A-

Caskette - Hoppy golden mild at 4%. Yellow color, fantastic juicy hop nose, biscuity malts make a nice platform for those hops, compulsively drinkable. Would have loved to tried the one they actually put on cask! B+

Jittery Tiger - An oatmeal stout brewed with espresso at 6.6%. Black with tan head, big roast coffee nose, strong coffee in taste, roasty, bitter. Coffee beers are not normally my thing... but I like this. Not my favorite evar or anything, but good, and goes down easy... B+

Yellow & Green - A 4.5% all Cascade Keller pils. Nice yellow color, some herbal hops, plenty if citrus too, classic Cascade hop character. Feels more like a pale ale than a pils, but it's really quite nice... B+

Carpathian Kitten Loss - An 8.8% DIPA brewed with rye. Citra & Simcoe hopped, this has an amazing aroma, bright oranges up in my noseballs, citrus hops all they way... Taste is fantastic too, lots of citrus hops, bright, nice spicy rye or caramel note, a hint of booze but well balanced, way too easy to drink for the ABV, smooth. Delicious, better than the last couple DIPAs that they've made... A-

Phew. That's a lot of beer (spread out over the past few months, I assure you!). I feel very lucky to have Tired Hands out here in my backyard (ok, a half hour away, but still). Really looking forward to the Only Void bottle release (coming soonish, I think), especially those bottle conditioned variants.

Double Feature: Victory's Harvest

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Fall is home to some of the beer nerd's most distinctive seasonal styles. The most popular are, of course, pumpkin beers and Oktoberfest beers. Very different styles, but both represent the season well. In recent years, a third seasonal brew has been charging ahead as well, albeit a somewhat less defined one: the harvest beer. Usually, this involves freshly harvested hops, used within a couple days of being picked off the vine, but there's also the occasional barley harvest beer too. Still, the hoppy harvest seems to be the thing that inflames beer geeks' passions. Using fresh hops gives a slightly different flavor profile to a beer than you would get from dried or pelletized hops, and this is basically the only time of the year to get such beers.

I imagine that west-coasters get the better end of the deal here, as the majority of hops are grown in the Pacific Northwest, so they'll probably have the easiest access to fresh hops... whereas us east-coasters have to make due with tiny local hop farms. I had a few Harvest Ales last year, but for whatever reason, none really blew me away, including Victory's offering. Fortunately, this year has gone much better:

Victory Harvest Ale

Victory Harvest Ale - Brewed with fresh Cascade hops harvested just hours earlier from the Catskills in New York state, near as I can tell, this is the same recipe they made last year, but I'll be darned if I didn't fall in love with it this year. Pours a clear, bright orange color with a couple fingers of frothy white head and tons of lacing (this seems to be typical when drinking beers at Victory's brewpub). Smells of bright citrus and big pine aromas, really nice. Taste is also underpinned by that citrus and pine hop character, but some earthy and maybe even spicy notes too, and a well matched malt backbone keeps it balanced. Mouthfeel is excellent, well carbonated but smooth, light to medium bodied, quaffable. Overall, this is an excellent beer. Victory calls it "highly aromatic and sensual"... sensual? Ok, sure. I call it delicious, complex, balanced, and quaffable. A-

Beer Nerd Details: 5.8% ABV on tap. Drank out of a nonic pint glass on 10/12/12.

Victory Harvest Pils

Victory Braumeister Harvest Pils - Braumeister Pils is Victory's draft-only pilsener that they seem to use as a playground for playing with various hop varietals (for instance, earlier this year they played with a bunch of experimental and new German hops, even going so far as to do a series of batches, each using the same hop varietal, but from different hop fields, which apparently yielded subtle differences between the batches). So it makes sense for them to make a harvest version using freshly picked Mt. Hood hops, again picked straight from New York. Pours a clear yellowish gold color, with a finger of fluffy white head (and again, tons of lacing). Smell has a surprisingly bright citrus character, along with some of those more common, Pilsnery spicy/earthy notes. Taste emphasizes the typical earthy and spicy Pilsner profile, but that bright citrus lightens things up a bit. Mouthfeel is light and smooth, a little lighter on carbonation than the regular harvest, but still appropriate. Overall, this is a good pilsner, and I appreciate the fresh, bright character... but Pils just isn't my style. I'm sure Pilsner fanatics would love this take on the style, but I'll give it a solid B

Beer Nerd Details: 5.5% ABV on tap. Drank out of of Victory's 0.3L glass on 10/12/12.

There you have it. Lots of exciting Victory stuff coming up, so stay tuned for that. And check back in tomorrow for a look at Tröegs' Fresh Hop Ale (and something else called Special HOPS Ale).

April Beer Club

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Tonight was beer club, a meeting of beer minded individuals from my work who get together for a meal and lots-o-beer once a month. We had a good turnout this month, with quite a few interesting beers to try. As usual, we hit up a local BYOB, this time a sushi place that seems to be a regular beer club venue. Good food (and the waitress put these amazingly intricate designs on our plates - see photo below) and good times were had by all.

April Beer Club
(Click for bigger image)

For the sake of posterity, some thoughts on each beer are below. As usual, these were not ideal conditions, so take it all with a grain of salt or whatever superstition floats your boat. In order of drinking (not in order of the picture above):

  • My Homebrewed Earl Grey Bitter - The first thing we opened was my most recent homebrew, an English bitter style beer brewed with Earl Grey tea. I've actually been sampling this on a weekly basis since bottling, and it keeps getting better. At week 1, it was still very thin, but by week 3, it had really matured into a really nice beer. It is a low gravity beer, so it's not a powerful beer, but it's actually got a lot of flavor packed in for an approximately 4% ABV beer. I don't know that you get a really big Earl Grey component, but there is more citrus here than in your typical bitter, which is exactly what I was going for. It's got a really nice nose, with a light earthy hoppiness and plenty of citrus (from the hops, but probably more from the bergamot and orange peel). The taste matches, and while it is a light and quaffable beer, it's not thin or watery. It's got a certain delicacy to it that wouldn't stand up to stronger flavors, but it's still exactly what I was going for. I'll probably do a separate post on this at some point as well... For now, I'll give it a B+
  • War Horse Peace Bomber German Lager - I'm pretty sure this is a tiny brewery, but one of our beer cub peeps visited New York recently and picked up a bottle for us to enjoy. It turns out to be a pretty straightforward lager, sweet but muted malt character, not a lot of hop character but enough to match the flavors. A solid beer. I'm not too familiar with the Vienna Lager style, but this seems like a worthy example, even if it's not really my thing. B-
  • Philadelphia Brewing Fleur De Lehigh - For those of you not in the know, Lehigh is an Eastern PA town with the third largest city in PA (Allentown). Also notable for Lehigh University, who I seem to recall had some recent sports success, but I don't really know or care about the details (probably because it had something to do with the contemptible sport of basketball)... The beer looked like a wheat beer and the nose is very much in line with a Belgian wit beer, light with very interesting and heavy spicing. But I didn't get much in the way of wheat out of the taste (Update: probably because there was no wheat in the beer! It's actually classified as a standard Belgian pale ale.) Still, it's got a similar sort of light-bodied summer-drinking character. It's not something that knocked my socks off or anything, but it would make a nice warm-weather quencher. My friend Mike gave this a nice writeup in Epikur magazine (though he only gave it 2 out of 5 stars) I'll say: B-
  • 5even Dillon Imperial Pilsner - This was the other beer club homebrewer's beer, and it turned out great. Sweet, assertively hopped but not overpoweringly so, and a nice, quaffable mouthfeel. B+
  • Lester's Fixins Bacon Soda - Bonus non-alcoholic review! Bacon flavored soda? Sounds disgusting? Well guess what? It is disgusting! Ok, so maybe it's not that bad, but I didn't really care for it. Overly sweet and not really much in the way of bacon flavor. (unratable!)

    Bacon Soda
  • Lagunitas Hop Stoopid - I've had this before (I even reviewed it), and it's just as good as last time, though I will say that it wasn't quite as bitter as I remembered (not that it was a bitter bomb last time, but still). Great citrus and pine character, highly drinkable beer. It shall remain at the most excellent A- level I rated it before!
  • The Bruery and Cigar City Collaboration: Marrón Acidifié - This was my other contribution for the night, and it's another beer I've already reviewed in detail. I'm really hoping that we'll get to see more of this stuff, but I have a feeling this will be the last I ever see of this collaboration. As sours go, I think it may be my favorite, and as I've noticed before, it goes exceptionally well (luckily, a fellow beer club member had stopped at famous West Chester chocolatier Eclat recently and had a nice dark chocolate bar available, which really goes well with the Flanders Oud Bruin style). Excellent stuff. A
And we called it a night after that. I had also brought a Founders Porter (reviewed recently) and a Centennial IPA (review forthcoming!), but we never cracked them open. We also didn't get to the DuClaw Soul Jacker (a blend of Blackjack Stout and Devil's Milk barleywine), but maybe I can pick a bottle of that stuff up for later! I will leave you with a picture of a plate of sushi:

Sushi plate and design
(Click for bigger image)

Beautiful stuff, and each of our plates had custom, hand-drawn artwork that was just as intricate and pretty.

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Hi, my name is Mark, and I like beer.

You might also want to check out my generalist blog, where I blather on about lots of things, but mostly movies, books, and technology.

Email me at mciocco at gmail dot com.

About this Archive

This page is an archive of recent entries in the Pilsener category.

Old Ale is the previous category.

Porter is the next category.

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