Expanding Your Beer Palate: Pilsner
When I first started to write these essays on types of beer, the idea was to move beyond the kinds of beers you see on the shelves of your local convenience store. I wanted to write about the beers besides the Pabsts, the Bud Lights and the Coors of the world, because the world has so many more beers out there.
However, I probably was a bit too harsh on lagers, and in particular the style of lager that makes up most of these common to Kwiky Mart beers – pilsners. Once something gets popular, people will run it into the ground in order to make money and destroy its reputation. (Like parody movies.)
That doesn’t mean there aren’t good pilsners out there with more color and flavor than iron-rich tap water. Plus, as the heat waves will assuredly attack again before the end of August, sometimes a lighter beer tastes better on a hot day. Let’s take a look at some of the pilsner winners from the Great American Beer Festival.
The first beer to catch my eye was Panzer Pilsner from the Port Brewing Company, just down the road in San Marcos, California. Why did it catch my eye? Panzer Pilsner took the silver medal in the “Other Strong Beer” category. When the alcohol content is 9%, that’s pretty damn strong. The beautiful thing is that because it is a late summer, early fall beer it is going to be ready for my gullet soon. Fear not though if you aren’t in Southern California for drinking because Port Brewing Company beers are available in Chicago, Boston, Philadelphia and quite a few other places.
In the straight American-style or International-style Pilsner category, the gold medal went to Gold Leaf Lager of the Devil’s Backbone Brewery. This brewpub in the small town of Roseland, Virginia is two hours away from Richmond and three hours away from Washington, D.C. But, if you want to escape the summer in the city for a bit, Shenandoah National Park is on the way to Roseland and has several mountains over 3,000 feet. Of course, it will take some work to get up to the more temperate air, but then you know you’ll have some good beer just an hour’s drive away when you hike down from the cool heights.
To celebrate the NFL owners and players reaching an agreement so that we will have football this fall, you could drink the gold medal winning Boathouse Pilsner from Titletown Brewing Company in Green Bay, Wisconsin. Unfortunately, much like Brett Favre, it is unavailable at the moment in Green Bay and the website offers no clue to when it might return.
Since we’ve hit the north, the west and the east, it’s time to end our pilsner tour with the silver medal winning Golden Pilsner from the Morgan Street Brewery in St. Louis, Missouri, smack dab in the middle of the U.S. Located in Laclede’s Landing (a great place to wander around bar-hopping if you’re in St. Louis) you can drink your pilsner while enjoying a meal of a smoked pork chop or chicken and proscuitto tortellini or gorgonzola and chive ravioli. I haven’t tried the food, but trust me, St. Louis folks know how to eat and, for that matter, put away good beer. On that note, remember to keep your eye out for good pilsners and enjoy the rest of your summer.
About Jason McClain Jason is an aspiring novelist, which means there is a lot of time to put off writing and watch baseball or go fly-fishing, hiking and traveling. By "a lot of time", Jason means "procrastination."