Alphabet Brewing Co (ABC): Hoi Polloi (England: Bohemian Pilsner: 4.8% ABV)

Visual: Pale grain to yellow. Clear inch of a white head. Some carbonation.

Nose: Vanilla custard. Clean hop character. Palma violets. Toffee.

Body: Custard and toffee. Hop resinous character. Dried apricot. Moderate hop character and bitterness. Light lime. Slight sherbety yet thick feel. Kumquat and light greenery. Orange juice.

Finish: Slight muggy bitterness and hop character. Quite high bitterness. Slight charring. Sweet kiwi and key lime pie. Greenery.

Conclusion: My feelings are kind of mixed on this one. I am finding it ok, but considering the various elements I had within it, I would normally expect to enjoy it a lot more than I am. Please let me explain.

It is a lager, pilsner to be exact, with a good thick texture and a sweet backing from the malt. A solid start, not too fizzy – always good, too fizzy makes me feel crappy after drinking – and so a good base to work from. First box ticked then.

There is a solid resinous body, good but moderate hop bitterness up to the finish, where suddenly leads into a short sharp shock of hop punch to the mouth. I’m a fan of well used hops, and this, while more bitter than even the normally good bitterness pilsner style is still used well. So – good bitterness use. Check box 2 as good.

Finally there is subtle fruit there, woven into the vanilla custard sweetness – a gentle backing so it doesn’t dominate. It lets the more lager and especially European lager style hop feel take the fore. So, check box 3. Doing well so far.

So why am I mixed in my thoughts on this? Well it is that final hop kick. It is impressive, but it means that as the beer goes on it lingers longer and longer into the next sip. So instead of being a refreshing punch at the end it dominates the whole beer and a lot of the subtlety is lost.

It never ruins the beer, but it makes it a more beer to have one and be done – I can’t imaging having a run of these as the hop bitterness would get wearing soon. Still, as one is a bitter lager with a nice sweet base that unfortunately does get a bit dull by the end. Not the best but not bad.

Background: Yep, I bought this because of the name – Hoi Polloi – aka the masses. Yep, us lot. Though normally it is meant as an insult I think. Anyway, between the name and the nice cartoony image on the can I decided to give it a go. Grabbed from the Beer Emporium in Bristol – not hit them for a while, they are a nice bar and a decent bottle shop as well. The street it is on is packed with awesome bars. This is their pilsner – not a style I tend to use as an introduction to a brewery, but when you get a good one, you tend to get a great one.