Showing posts with label american pilsner. Show all posts
Showing posts with label american pilsner. Show all posts

Monday, December 2, 2019

The Perfect Partner

For the best part of a decade my Black Friday tradition of walking 7 miles to the Columbia Flying Saucer and spending the afternoon on the bevvy has been something I looked forward to immensely. This year though Mrs V and I decided to leave the twins in the care of her parents and sister overnight and head down to Charleston for a night out. It was the first night in just over 2 years that both of us slept away from the kids.

The highlight of the trip was having dinner reservations at a restaurant called The Grocery. When I was in the city last year for a conference, I went there twice as a result of my bosses making arrangements without consulting each other, though given the wonderful food, especially the bone marrow br?lée, I really wasn't complaining.

Rather than having the standard 3 course meal of starter, main, and dessert, we picked and chose from various dishes, and ended up sharing between us, among other dishes:
  • bone marrow br?lée
  • roasted autumn roots
  • South Carolina Yellowfin tuna crudo
  • churros with salted caramel, chili chocolate, and creme anglaise sauces
Every dish was an absolute delight, especially the tuna crudo and bone marrow br?lée, rounding out the meal with the churros and a nice glass of calvados was just the icing on the cake. What though has this to do with beer, after all Fuggled is a blog about beer. Fear not dear reader, I haven't become a wine drinker, and my meal at The Grocery was certainly accompanied by beer, to be precise.

Paycheck is, having actually only just now checked the Fullsteam website for details, an American style pilsner, made with, horror of horrors, flaked corn as well as 2-row malt. Side question, why is it ok for craft brewers to use "cheap adjuncts" like corn in their beer but not the likes of Miller and Coors, in whatever configuration they are this week?

Anyway, the beer, it was just what I wanted to drink, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Knowing that it uses corn will in no way affect the fact that I will drink it again in the future, in fact I'll probably hunt it out. It's a good beer, end of story.

The corn discovery though makes no difference to the thoughts behind this post. Driving home to Virginia yesterday I said to Mrs V that my experience of drinking Paycheck with all these fantastic dishes on Friday made me think that celebrity chefs who own that they drink American style pale lagers rather than whatever is this week's rage in the tasting rooms of the US might actually be on to something.

Dinner at a place like The Grocery is always going to be primarily about the food, as it should be, and so I want the beer to take a back seat, but still be an enjoyable experience in its own right. Enter pilsner, German, Bohemian, or American. Give me a glass of well brewed pale lager, reasonably well hopped, showcasing the clean snap of a good lager fermentation, and you have a beer that complements almost any food you have it with.

I am fairly sure that had the pilsner in question been Rothaus or Albrecht 10° the overall experience would have been similar, great food, supported by good beer, in supreme company, making for a wonderful night out with the inestimable Mrs V.

Friday, August 5, 2016

The Session 114 - Urquell and Not


This month's Session is around the theme of 'Pilsners', I asked bloggers to find examples of the various subsets of the pilsner style and do a  little tasting and comparing, but first I have a confession to make.

Believe it or not, I have not always been a devoted drinker of Plzeňsky Prazdroj, the original, eponymous, lager from Plzeň. That's not to say that I haven't always been a fan of Czech pale lagers, but in my first few years living in the Czech Republic I preferred Budvar, Velkopopovicky Kozel, or Gambrinus. Then as I started breaking out and drinking lagers from small breweries I discovered wonders such as Zlata Labut Světlé Kvasnicové Pivo 11°, Koutsky 10° Kvasnicové Světlé Vy?epní, or Chodovar Kvasnicovy Skalní Le?ák.


Plzeňsky Prazdroj was something I drank on the occasions when I went to places like U Pinkas?, Bredovsky Dv?r, or Bruska. Sure I liked it enough but it was really only when Pivovarsky Klub had a keg of the unfiltered, kvasnicové Prazdroj, that was normally only available in a couple of bars in Plzeň, that I realised what a magnificent beer it truly is. Now that it is available in the US, cold shipped in brown bottles, it is a fairly regular, though fleeting, visitor to my fridge.


It seemed only logical for this iteration of The Session then that I get myself some of the original pilsner and subject it to my slightly modified version of the Cyclops beer tasting method, but then I decided it would better to actually write about the beer than have a set of bullet points. Thus I poured a bottle into my hand blown glass from Williamsburg, and as I expected it was a rich golden colour, not yellow, deeply golden. The head that formed was a cap of tight white bubbles that just lingered. I took time to actually smell the beer, something that I find gets overlooked with beers you know well, and there was everything I love about Saaz, the closest description I can come to it like mown grass in a lemon grove, with just a trace of honeyed digestive biscuits in the background. That theme of sweet cereal and bracing hop bitterness continues into the drinking, and while I wouldn't say that I can tell if a beer has been decocted, there is something ethereal about the sweetness, it's almost dainty, lacking the clunkiness of caramel malts. Beautifully balanced, crisply bitter, clean, and thirst quenching, Prazdroj is a classic, simple as.


When trying to decide where in the pilsner universe to go next, Germany was the obvious destination, but which of the many, many, excellent examples of the style would I pour into my goblet? Really there was always a leading contender, a beer that I simply adore, Rothaus Pils. When Kardinal Hall opened up here in Charlottesville and I was able to drop $11 on a litre of Rothaus Pils, I was almost giddy with excitement. I was a little worried that bottled Rothaus wouldn't stand up to draught, what a silly boy I am sometimes. Where Prazdroj is golden, Rothaus is very definitely yellow, again topped with a firm white head that clings to the side of the glass. I don't know, nor particularly care, what hops are used in the beer, but they reminded me of summer meadows in the mountains of central Europe laced with lemongrass. The dominant flavour was that of wildflower honey schmeered onto a lightly toasted slice of homemade bread, with a bitterness that lingers in the background and build with every mouthful. The complexity of this simple beer is astounding and it is one that I never tire of drinking.



Having had the original, and then probably my favourite, where to go next? How about right up to date in the USA? I know there are people for whom Goose Island is off limits, for the same daft reasons as those railing against Devils Backbone, but when they released Four Star Pils a few months back I was eager to give it a whirl. This one pours a similar rich golden as Prazdroj, though the head here is slightly off white, as expected it sits around for the duration. The hops here are a mix of German and American, and it tells in the nose, a gentle blend of the German floral thing and a distinctly American citrus note, all dancing over a base of graham cracker malt. Drinking is a cascade of toffee infused graham crackers topped with bitter orange peel. Sneaking in the background is a light grassiness that sets off the sweetness of the malt nicely. Again a very nicely balanced beer, the bitterness of the hops drying out the finish to make it delightfully refreshing.


So what can be drawn from this little comparative tasting? There is scope under the pilsner umbrella for a raft of flavours and that hop bitterness is a key facet of the drinking experience. True pilsners are not bland in the slightest, and are very much a drinkers' beer. They are not built for sampling a few ounces of in a tasting room and cyberticking it on Untappd, but for engaging in real sociability with real people. So I encourage everyone this weekend to go beyond the IPAs, Belgians, and Imperials of this world, and have a few pints or litres of a pilsner.

Na zdraví! Prost! Slainte!

Beyond January

Dry January is over, but my beer fast continues. Well, it continues until Friday. As a general rule I only drink at the weekend, thus my win...

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