Tag Archive: Imperial Pilsner

Brewdog Sub Hop

Brewdog: Sub Hop (Scotland: Imperial Pilsner: 9% ABV)

Visual: Banana gold. Large yellowed froth head and some carbonation

Nose: Floral. Light pumpkin (or at least what pumpkin in beer tends to smell like). Vanilla slice. Digestives. Passion fruit.

Body: Very ripe banana. Pumpkin. Custard. Dried apricot. Very ripe fruit in general. Light hop character. Golden syrup cake. Thick texture. Light bitterness and prickle. Light greenery. Pink grapefruit. Rhubarb crumble and custard hard sweets.

Finish: Ripe banana. Light bitterness. Vanilla slice. Golden syrup. Digestives. Pink grapefruit. Toffee.

Conclusion: I think I must have had a cold the first time I tried this, as back then it seemed kind of dull. So, not expecting much, I broke my second bottle open for review.

It’s actually pretty nice. Doesn’t scream lager, not even imperial lager. The first thought that came to mind was actually an easier going Hardcore IPA, for malt influence and level of hop flavours. However it has nowhere near the bitterness of that beer.

The flavours are different though, lots of overripe banana, what seems slightly pumpkin like to my non pumpkin expert mind, and a chunk of the more traditional dried apricot and pink grapefruit flavours. It is very sweet, there is some tartness from the grapefruit, but mainly it emphasises the sweeter element. It is a bit different then, like three separate dessert wrapped up in ball of hops, but kind of nice.

For all its big flavours, it is still pretty slick to drink – a bit syrupy so it is not like the crisp lagers in ease of drinking, but the flavours don’t weigh you down. They do hang around and trade taste tales on your tongue, but happily leave when requested rather that setting up a squatters block.

Overall, as stated before, it is pretty nice. A bit different in flavours, and doesn’t really shout the style, but it does use it for a bit of slick character. I return here to the concept of it as an easygoing Hardcore IPA, via lager, and via rhubarb and custard hard sweets of all things. It is maybe a bit too sweet, maybe a bit too syrupy, but for the mix of quality to different flavours I enjoyed it.

Background: This was brewed for Brewdog Firenze. Which wikipedia assures me is in Italy. Geography never was my strong suit. Sorry to my Italian readers. Anyway, a small amount was available online so I grabbed a few bottles. This was drunk while listening to some of the Guilty Gear soundtrack. I have never played the game but the soundtrack is cool. I had just finished watching some Doctor Who in preparation for going to see the new Doctor on Saturday. Unfortunately I picked Planet Of The Dead, which turned out to be terrible. Or at least started out so terrible I had problems taking the rest of the episode seriously. Unlike the episode before it, “The Next Doctor” which was good for the first 45 minutes and then sucked so hard that everyone remembers the entire episode as being bad. I’m just rambling about Doctor Who now aren’t I? As always I am not an unbiased actor on Brewdog beers.


Kormoran Krzepkie

Kormoran: Krzepkie (Poland: Imperial Pils: 7.4% ABV)

Visual: Yellowed gold. Large white bubbled head. Moderate carbonation.

Nose: Smooth. Crisp. Wheat hops. Soft caramel. Fresh floral lager character. Cake sponge.

Body: Smooth. Crisp lemon. Palma violet. Moderate hops but low bitterness. Fresh lime. Raspberry pavlova. Floral character. Small treacle like boozy back. Vanilla malt chocolate.

Finish: Custard. Palma violets. Smooth toffee. Hop oils. Some bitterness. Honeyed barley, or maybe golden syrup. Slight alcohol air.

Conclusion: Welcome to some heavy duty lager. This plays the lager style straight, no heavy hop exploration, no fruit infusions, wheat, or any other twists. Just careful brewing and patient lagering for maturation best I can tell.

It has a lovely crisp lager character and noble hop palma violet feel matched with soft toffee and custard sweetness which I take to be from the increased malt load. It gives a thick texture, matched by soft sherbet froth at the edges.

I am impressed, the sweetenss gives an almost pavlova feel at times that reminds me of Schneider and Sohns’ Hopfen-Weisse, in that element alone obviously. The other elements are noble hops pocked throughout that pushes a quality Poland lager feel, just bigger.

It is dangerously drinkable for the abv. It does have an occasional sign of alcohol, a treacle booziness mid body and a spirit air in the finish. Neither are common and they are both a minor flaw in that they mar the flavour, and a saving grace in that they remind you of the alcohol weight,

Overall it is an impressive lager, while it has a few harsh edges, the flavour and drinkability are such that I will not hold them against it. This is a big, malty sweet lager and it tries for nothing else, however it does that very well.

Background: I took a look on rate beer after drinking this, apparently they don’t rate it. collectively speaking. 24th percentile overall, 61st percentile by style, so just above average. Huh. Then again, much as I appreciate them as a reference I do have semi regular disagreements with the consensus. And that is fine, we all enjoy beer in our own way. Anyway, I went squee a bit when I heard Independent Spirit had some craft Polish beers in. It is my shame, that it all the years I have done this, I have never reviewed a Polish beer. Drank a few, but never reviewed. Poland has a great tradition of quality lagers, and now it seems the start of a craft beer scene – they do not deserve to be ignored. So I have redressed the balance with this long matured strong lager. I also gave their American IPA a try – pretty good, not world shaking, but a solid tasty IPA that can stand proud against the crowd. They also do a garlic beer – I have no idea what that is like, I am mildly nervous at the concept. Maybe that means I should try it and face my fears? Drunk while listening to Erocks awesome Sandstorm Meets Metal.

Pilsen Lager

Brewdog: Unleash The Yeast: Pilsen Lager (Scotland: Imperial Pils: 6.3% ABV)

Visual: Overripe banana to gold. Yellowed bubbled head. Small amounts of carbonation.

Nose: Light apricot. Thick kumquat. Vanilla toffee. Raspberry sorbet and raspberry pavlova.

Body: Lemon sherbet. Passion fruit. Creamy and meringue mix. Light lime sweetness. Pineapple. Crisp body. Toffee. Raspberry touches. Menthol touch. Slight resin. Apricot.

Finish: Cream. Lights hops and bitterness. Smooth malt notes. Citrus air and light tartness. Gooseberry. Light greenery. Dry at the end. Dry black liquorice touch.

Conclusion: Well, well, well, what a difference a yeast makes. Compared to the American Ale it is still very fruity in both aroma and body, but the hop prickle is gone. There is still moderate bitterness but it is without the matching hop character.

Even the flavour itself has changed with light tart citrus and sweet raspberry notes now. The body feels crisp, but the dryness really hits in the finish and there it has most effect. So, yes, the yeast makes all the difference, the fruit is more muted in expression, if still giving large doses of what it has and it also makes the malt backbone very dry

As a beer in itself it starts off great, the flavours are full and intricate despite the more muted fruit, and it is very enjoyable. The play between raspberry (and where the hell did that come from?), resin, apricot and lemon sherbet is great. As the beer goes on it becomes, … less fun, I think it is the finish. The beer is overly dry there, almost like the accursed cardboard touch of weaker lagers, and with a liquorice like touch. The poor elements last into the next sip, weakening the beer’s normally impressive body

If you take a break from the beer however, say to peruse web comics (to pick a random example *cough* orderofthestick) then suddenly, boom, the full flavour returns again with the same elements that made it great in the first place. So, as a lager it has good flavour, but lacking in the session stakes and finish. As a yeast experiment, wow, the difference is immense. So not a great beer, but a good one given enough time. Let’s see what is next up!

Background: Second of the “Unleash The Yeast” set I have tried. The same beer recipe used by four beers, with the exception of the yeast used being different for each one. I love the idea, and very highly enjoyed the first beer I tried which was with American Ale yeast. As always I am not an unbiased actor one Brewdog beers.


Brewdog: 8 Wired: Dog Wired (Scotland: Imperial Pilsner: 6.8% ABV)

Visual: Clear yellowed gold with a slight apricot hue. Moderate ripe banana coloured head with bubbles mounded up around the edges. The head leaves lots of lace.

Nose: Lemon. Pineapple. Good hop character and bitterness. Pink grapefruit and blood orange. Vanilla toffee malt character.

Body: Pink grapefruit. Bitter hops. Lemon meringue. Toffee and custard. Pineapple. Apricot.

Finish: Liquorice. Lemon and grapefruit. Good hops and bitterness. Elderberry air. Crisp. Vanilla toffee.

Conclusion: This is a seriously hoppy lager. It just screams NZ citrus all the way through. The aroma promises it all, tart, bitter and hoppy with huge fruit flavour.

The body cuts cleanly between the two poles of crisp lager texture and big hoppy bitterness. Similarly the flavours are balanced between the tart freshness against the sweet toffee malt flavours. It goes down too easily, the flavour of the beer is so full that you could, hypothetically, hold it on your tongue for ages. However when chilled down you find it so easy drinking that it is easy to swallow it down, forgetting to take time to fully appreciate it.

It works nicely through the beer as well, with the big hops present early on and the backing malt coming out after the half way point to dominate, preventing the hops from getting dull

In fact it is only in the finish, once you have performed that too early swallow of the delicious body, that you find the only flaw. Amongst the dry, next sip inducing feel, there is a liquorice flavour which , while not unpleasant, feels out of place.

Ok, also the near seven percent abv on a beer that both encourages you to swallow an has a finish that encourages the next sip is dangerous, however that is more a point to be aware of than a flaw.

Despite those minor points this is great, huge hoppiness, huge depth of flavour, and subtle complexity. The citrus to toffee flavour is almost dessert like beneath the hops. Lovely.

Background: BREWDOG! 8 WIRED! Seriously, there is few collaborations that could get me more excited. Hair of the Dog/ Three Floyds probably would. Anyway I digress. Erm, by the way I mean a collaboration between Hair Of The Dog and Three Floyds. Not HOTD and Three Floyds Slash Fic. Really. Anyway, digressions, yes. Drunk at Brewdog Bristol on tap and also grabbed a bottle to drink at home. I haven’t broken the bottle open yet so this is all based on the tap version.

Dog Wired 2


Birra Del Borgo: Dogfish Head: My Antonia (Italy: Imperial Pils: 7.5% ABV)

Visual: Yellow to gold. Large custard sudded yellowed head.

Nose: Custard. Peach and hops. Very good hoppiness of a clinging style. Light toffee.

Body: Bitter but not too heavy. Apricot. Very smooth creamy texture. Custard. Cinnamon. Granite rough touch very occasionally. Tangerine.

Finish: Creamy. Moderate bitterness. Cinnamon. Hops. Peach and grapefruit.

Conclusion: I love the words continually hopped. I’ve never seen a beer with those words attached that turned out to be a bad beer. Guess it helps that I normally see them linked with Dogfish Head beers.  Normally I see them linked with IPA’s, here linked to an Imperial Pils it ends up with a beer that pretty much destroys any expectations of the style that I had.

Now, that does mean as an example of the style it may not be the best. As a beer however? Damn!

It is smooth, creamy, lots of apricot fruitiness and with solid but not extreme bitterness. I can really see the dogfish head influence stamped over the hop style. It is very much like a lager take on their 90 minute IPA. I’ve yet to get a full grip of the Birra Del Borgo style, but this matches the quality I have seen from them so far.

It is an easy drinking Imperial Pils,  IPA like beer then. As you would expect it is lighter than an IPA and with dominance of a few key flavours rather than a larger range, but with good bitterness and well defined aroma and flavour.

Tastes almost Belgium yeast IPA style in smoothness. It has that creamy full texture to it that I would associate with that style. There is very little bad to say about this beer. Maybe not what you expect from a pils, maybe a half way point between pils and IPA and if you prefer either style a pure example would do that better.  However, sod it, this is lovely.

It is eminently drinkable, well hopped and flavoursome with good texture. You may prefer more pure styled beers at the top of their style but I can’t see anyone being disappointed with this delicious beer.

Background: After the last Birra Del Borgo I had, their collaboration with Brewdog, I decided I really should try more of their stuff to get a feel fro their brewery. So I did, another collaboration. One day I must try a beer they just made themselves. From the look of it there are two versions of this beer, the dogfish head and the Birra Del Borgo. This is the Birra Del Borgo. This beer was drunk at Brewdog Bristol after a long discussion with the staff on exactly which beer I should try next. So blame them. Honest. I love Dogfish head beers but they are very hard to get over in the UK these days as they are concentration on supplying the USA. Not seen the Dogfish Head version anywhere. I wonder if any of the booze dancers have given it a review? (Edit: Answer: Yes, Yes they do)

Brewdog: Barrel Aged 77 Lager (Scotland: Imperial Pilsner: 7.7% ABV)

Visual: Clear dark gold with a small frothy off white head.

Nose: Passion fruit. Fudge. Pencil shaving and kiwi. Sea soaked wood. Blueberry. Freshly baked cake sponge. Crystallised fruit sugars.

Body: Sugar icing. Kiwi and passion fruit. Sour grapes. Slight chalk. Jiff lemon. Blueberry hints. Fresh orange.

Finish: Liquorice. Fudge and malt. Grain whisky. Light smoke.

Conclusion: When you list the beer styles that would take well to oak ageing you would have to move way down the list to find lager. Therefore this beer is a bit of a surprise.

Lightly aromatic with fruit and takes that through into the flavour. It is very carefully done and just slightly sweet with it. The oak has definitely had an influence, but for the most part not in the ways that would be expected.

It feels very fresh, almost bohemian in style, and with just the slightest wood in the flavours. Mostly the oak seems to have given it room to expand and refine itself. The sweetness reminds me of the crystallised sugar taste I had encountered with the HBC hop, though here it is much more balanced with a wider fruit range to smooth it out.

Frankly it is shocking how well this brewed up version of 77 lager does. It has so much more sweetness, subtlety and shine than base 77 does. In fact where 77 lager promised to bring back lager to being a noble beer, it is this version that finally delivers on that promise.

A beer that drinks great cold, drinks even better when warmed slightly to shift its range. A beer where the oak has influence but does not bury the base beer. This is an unexpected beer to really shine but it does. A fine job.

Background: I was never a huge fan of 77 lager, it was good but never really exceptional. Well except for the oddity of the cask version which ruled, but I could never find that again after the first time. Also I have always wondered about the point of oak ageing lighter beers. Therefore when I heard about a version of 77 lager aged for 18 months in grain whisky casks I was not really jumping up and down with excitement. Grabbed a few bottles though, as I have mentioned I am not unbiased on Brewdog beers so I tend to give them shot.  Over the weekend in Camden I tried it on keg and was blown away.  This I return to the bottle review with a lot more optimism than I otherwise would have. This version of 77 however is slightly different even before oak ageing, having been brewed up to a higher 7.7% abv.

Brewdog: Imperial Pilsner (Scotland: Imperial Pils: 10% ABV)

Visual: Grain gold with a creamy white bubbled head.

Nose: Pineapple and gooseberry. Very sharp.

Body: Sweet. Lemon. Grapefruit and toffee. Honey. Slightly sherbet like. Elderberry.

Finish: Toffee and liquorice. Bitter hops. Still lemon touches. Gooseberry. Malt drinks.

Conclusion: Whew, how big can you make a pilsner? Syrup thick texture with very fresh citrus flavour gripped on. The citrus means it is slightly tart and sharp, but backed by dry hop and liquorice finish.

The finish is a real heavy weight on the palette, the dry liquorice makes anything after seem mild. Definitely a beer to have near the end of a session. Against all the expectations you have for a lager this is heavy duty and the thick texture makes it one for slow sipping.

Flavour wise it’s like they made a citrus IPA easy drinking. Though in that moment twixt the sip and the finish coming in, the flavour goes ratcheted up to a point where it is almost sickly. The citrus and liquorice just leap up and make themselves a solid punch of flavour here.  That element doesn’t quite work, with the liquorice being a bit too strong, but that punch is an important part of the beers progression so I can see why it is there.

Overall a very big beer and very tasty. So thick and heavy that it almost pushes too hard. It is a beer that is almost unrecognisable by standard pilsner expectations.  I would view it similarly to Hardcore NZ, not a beer for all moments and not to be drunk often due to the extreme swings of style, but very enjoyable when you get the moment to explore it.

Background: Drunk at Brewdog Camden during the bloody sodding Queens Jubilee. Thankfully no flags were in evidence so I could enjoy my drinking in peace.  This was part of a small batch brewed that was only available from Brewdog pubs on keg. The bar staff advised saving the beer until later in the session, saying it wasn’t a good one to open up on, but since I wanted to do a review I decided to give it a shot first, before our epic drinking session started.

Kiuchi: Hitachino Nest: Ancient Nipponia (Japan: Imperial Pils: 6.5% ABV)

Visual: Clear grain gold. Still in body but with a good sized set of mounded bubbles mounted on top of a white head which leaves slight sud trails.

Nose: Lemongrass.  Smooth. Slight bubble gum. Slightly minty and quite milky. Some wheat character.

Body: Sherbet lemon. Quite thick texture. Cream. Slight honey sweetness. Barley and light bitterness. Slight greenery.

Finish: Greenery and light bitterness. Resin. Some cinnamon. Hoppiness that grows but never to a heavy degree. Slight ginger bread.

Conclusion: Now I love the sorachi ace hop and I have encountered this beer already on keg at Brewdog Camden. It’s going to be interesting trying it again on bottle to make the comparison.

The flavours here seem less evident that in the keg – especially the more unusual and distinctive elements such as the lemongrass resin and greenery. Here in the bottle it is smoother and more integrated, however it does feel to a degree that the more interesting edges have been rounded off where before they were still prickly and fun.

Drunk cool it is a less interesting beer, more simple and creamy though still with a distinct sorachi ace character . Warm it gets a bit more spice which combined with the increased resin in the finish makes for a more satisfying note to end on.  It also gets sweetness and gingerbread. All makes it what would be a good session ale if not for the abv.  It is very smooth and easy to drink though. This is especially emphasizes by the light cinnamon that helps balance against the lemongrass.  Worth sharing with friends over conversation as it is nice but doesn’t stand up to too much contemplation.

A mixed bag, nice, but despite that and my love of Japanese things I can’t give it a glowing review. The smoothed out edges does take away a lot of its fun. Much better in keg where it is interesting and fun, here it is ok but not great.

Background: The beer style is a bit of a guess. There had been two versions of this beer, a top and bottom fermented version.  From the flavour, year and country it was tried in I am guessing this was the bottom fermented version. I am a huge fan of Japan, and tried a lot of their budding craft beer scene while I was there. This however was picked up at Brewdogs Guest Beer section. I also tried it on tap at Brewdog Camden. The beer is a demonstration of Japan origin brewing materials with Sorachi Ace as the hop and Kaneko Golden as the barley. I love the sorachi ace hop and wish it’s use in more beers.

Brewdog: Avery Brown Dredge (Scotland: Imperial Pilsner: 7.5%ABV)

Visual: Peach amber with a loose bubbled head.

Nose: Light pineapple, light peach. Quite watery aroma. Vanilla cream and apricot yogurt. Slight strawberry.

Body: Chalky texture, bitter and lime. Roasted hazelnuts at the back. Apricots. Slight golden syrup or treacle. Peach with light cream. Malted chocolate near back. Growling hop tingle.

Finish:  Charring and pineapple mix into a dry chalky bitter back. Treacle.

Conclusion:  Why do I never learn? Even if it’s a sodding pilsner, chilling always fecks your beer up unless your in a heat wave.

So, usual mistakes aside. The nose still comes in a tad watery even when at a more normal temperature, which never bodes well.  Thankfully the body starts letting the flavours roll, with peach, apricot and even cream notes. Unfortunately it matches that with a chalky texture that never seems to work for me in this kind of beer.

Strangely the gritty texture that works so badly in the middle comes into its fore in the bitter finish where it really screws the flavour in.  That kind of thing pretty much sums up the beer. For every cool idea it seems to match it with a slight annoyance.

It’s not bad, it’s full of good ideas, but it’s like they got all the decorations right and forgot the Christmas tree.  Not Brewdogs best then.

Background; The usual disclaimer, I am not an unbiased actor on Brewdog. This beer was put together by the three people in the eponymous title. The three are well respected beer journalists from the UK, and seemed to have a whale of time making it.  Drunk whilst listening to the Doom Purgatory OCRemix from http://ocremix.org/remix/OCR01385/

Brewdog: Stone Brewing: Cambridge: Juxtaposition (USA: Imperial  Pilsner: 10% ABV)

Visual: Black thick pour with a creamy brown head, almost stout like in nature.

Nose: Creamy, black cherry, treacle and cloying cream. Grapefruit hops and pineapple. Cloying fruit, apricot. Coffee. Dry malt and open fire undertone. Massive roasted nuts and bitter chocolate.

Body:  Huge malt, bitter chocolate, roasted nuts and subtle festive spices.  It really has a brilliant roasted feel to it. Christmas cake. Pineapple, grapefruit and rich milk chocolate all intermixed.  Massively sweet to offset the roasted nature, and tiny touch of chalky texture.

Finish: Bitter chocolate, charring, roasted nuts and campfire. Grapefruit. Massive bitterness then really hits home.

Conclusion: Wow, well I never thought I’d try this one. As far as I had been aware this had never hit the UK, but at Brewdogs bar in Scotland I finally found it.  So what was the one thought that dominated the tasting.

You’re telling me this is a black pilsner? Pull the other one!

This is a huge beer packed with American hops and bitterness in an IPA style rammed up against a sweet stout style nose, and a massive sweet and smooth texture only occasionally offset by a touch of chalkiness.  This really comes in with so much, and it deserves more time to appreciate than I had to give it (Due to closing time coming in quickly)

It’s mass of flavour and bitterness hides the abv nigh perfectly.  This really reminds me of those attempts at ultra hoppy stouts, but this does it right. I can but guess that its Pilsner (hah) nature allows it to smooth out that harsh hop stickiness that taints so many of those beers, and instead we get all the stout flavour, massive hoppiness, but also massively easily drinkable.

Frankly this is one of the best beers I have had a chance to try, up there with my all time greats.  Brewdog, Stone and Cambridge I salute you for excellence in a glass.

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