Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Craft Pilsners

Having recently warned our readers of the perils of ‘fake pilsners’, I thought I should take the next step and begin to ‘review’ some local craft brews bearing the Pilsner tag. Not because I wanted to pretend that I can tell our readers what a beer tastes like, or which one is better than another, as that is not my go. As you know, I like to keep out of the beer review/recommendation game because, for me, the beer experience is all about time and place and mates and food and such and what tastes bitter or smooth or pissy to me might be the opposite to your palate.

Here follows a reasonably good guide to the style differences and taste profiles of some of the various craft brewed pilsners available. It is also a reasonably good excuse for me to buy and drink some of the various craft brewed pilsners available. I begin with a selection of some of the offerings that have been out and about for a few years now. Some newer ones will be used as an excuse for me to buy some more good beer and they will be tested in a few weeks.

Monteith’s Lively Pilsner NZ 330ml 5% ABV

Not strictly a ‘local’ offering but I thought I’d include it by way of an apology for the bucketing I gave the Kiwis in two recent posts. This has a very smooth and tasty malt front with a crisp, refreshing hop kick. The two elements are beautifully balanced and the overall taste leans more towards flavour than the strength of the hop ‘bite’ which works well. A mild hop aroma and a nice lively bubble as the name suggests. Matched well with roast chook.

Bluetongue Pilsner NSW Hunter Valley 330ml 4.5%

Hop flavour that leans towards the ‘rusty’ end of the spectrum and nice for those who like their pilsners to have that ‘bite’. Maybe a little heavy handed for the malt though it might be that the malt is a bit short for some rather than the hops being ’over’. Clean and thirst quenching with a mild aroma. Nice on its’ own or with mild flavoured food like poached seafood.

Grand Ridge Brewer’s Pilsner VIC 330ml 4.9%

Reasonably fresh and crisp taste, easy drinking and a lovely earthy tone to the colour. A little light on aroma and the malt is sweetish but a little muted. Almost enough bitterness to be a great pilsner and it feels like it wants to tick all the boxes but perhaps couldn’t afford to. Maybe more a premium lager type of beer and a good one at that.

Outback Pilsner NSW (Contract brewers) 330ml 4.8%

Nice subtle aroma, fresh and inviting with a taste that is crisp and refreshing with a nice bright carbonation. Not as bitter as some but certainly enough to qualify as a pilsner standard but probably only just. Well balanced and a nice drop. Again, try with mild food.

Little Creatures Pilsner WA 330ml 4.6%

I know this probably only just sneaks in as a ‘craft brew’ as the success of the LC brand makes it seem more than a small player in the beer market but whichever way you look at it, this IS a pilsner. The aroma tells you straight away that this is elevated above the lager or premium crowd with its’ fresh mown hay kind of smell and the smoothness of the mouthfeel sings of a well made beer. Easy drinking but with a bitterness that pops in and grabs the sides of your tongue on the way through, this one is earthy and real. Could stand up well to a fuller flavoured roast or complement a rich, homestyle stew.

That’s about as close as I get to a beer ‘review’ and it’s always hard enough to hide your own biases let alone explain to someone how the beer feels and such. I still reckon that the best beer is the one in your hand and is second only to one that a mate bought for you so why not treat yourself, support the guys who are having a crack at brewing decent beers and, while you’re at it, support the retailers who are giving the good stuff some real shelf space and talk to the blokes in the shop about what you like and be led by their recommendations.

You might just find a new ‘favourite’.

Prof. Pilsner

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