Tag Archive: Pilsner


Herrenhauser: Premium Pilsner (Germany: Pilsner: 4.9% ABV)

Visual: Pale yellow to gold. Moderate white head. Small bubbled carbonation.

Nose: Light popcorn hops and vanilla. Quite clean. Toffee.

Body: Vanilla toffee and light custard. Smooth hop oils. Present but low to moderate bitterness. Light greenery backing. Slight chalk and fizzy character. Moderate thickness. Lightly peppery after a while.

Finish: Clean sheen. Low but present bitterness and a popcorn hop character. Slightly dry. Maize/cereal. Lightly peppery.

Conclusion: While the tap version of this is definitely better than this bottled version I have here – this local Lower Saxony lager still holds up pretty well.

First up on things it does well is the feel – A slightly thicker than normal texture for a pilsner. It gives a smooth, slight hop oil touched experience. The lead out into the finish is dry, but the body much less so because of the thicker mouthfeel. Good for me as I’m not much of a fan of an overly dry lager – for you a thicker texture may be a benefit or a flaw – judge as you may.

Flavour-wise it leans towards the gently sweet, but with a moderate but not particularly heavy hop bitterness. The sweetness definitely leads and makes it very easy to drink – it doesn’t go too heavy on this elements so doesn’t end up sickly. A pretty simple beast, that uses the hop character to give a similarly gentle robustness that develops into pepperyness as a secondary characteristic over time. This peppery character is especially present in the finish, as the sweetness from the front soothes away. Simple – but not one note.

Looking at lagers that eschew the craft trapping and keep to the more traditional notes, this is one of the more satisfying I’ve had in a long time. Good texture, good sweet to bitter balance. Not revolutionary, but I’ve returned to it a lot over the trip as a good standby – and if you are around the area it is on tap I recommend you give it the chance to be the same.

Very enjoyable.

Background: This was pretty much everywhere in Hannover, during my Lower Saxony holiday. I first encountered it at the Kleine Museum restaurant – a nice, atmospheric joint with good food and super friendly staff – oh and a crocodile hanging overhead. Lots of weird nick-nacks and items around made it a great place to enjoy this on tap. Since it was one of Michael Jackson’s 500 recommended beers in his Great Beer Guide I also grabbed a bottle at a local corner shop to do some tasting notes on. Which are these notes.

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Welde: Himburgs: Pepper Pils (Germany: Pilsener: 4.8% ABV)

Visual: Golden and clear with a yellowed huge head.

Nose: Peppery. Floral. Slight menthol and herbal character.

Body: Lightly herbal. Light peppery and minty character. Quite clean. Light vanilla and grapes.

Finish: Minty. Clean and fresh. Sage and onion. Light peppery and peppercorn. Later a kind of beef slices comes out.

Conclusion: I was expecting a pepper touch to this, because of the name – but was not expecting this very fresh and herbal lager that manages very well to keep the lager feel despite the very clear influence of its unusual ingredient. It is mainly a pretty clean feel, and shows what I presume to be noble hop influence but matches that with a lot of sage and general herbal taste that works well. Now, while I say there is clear influence from the unusual ingredient, I was expecting for it to be expressed in a more traditionally peppery style. That more traditional influence is held back until a kind of peppercorn style in the finish, everywhere else gives that more herbal feel to it.

The lager is pretty one note, if well textured and delivered – with the subtlety coming from the rising herbs, peppercorn, and even some beef notes which were very unexpected – All of these seem to wait until the finish and gives a completely different layer to play with compared to the main beer. It makes for an easygoing lager with a robust but still not heavy finish.

The menthol and herb freshness is brilliant mid body – the pepper and meat finish grounds it so it doesn’t get wearing. There isn’t a lot in the central lager pils character, but the soft vanilla and noble hops give an easy drinking stage for the more unusual elements to work off.

So, not a world shaker but different and appealed to both myself and more traditional lager drinkers with me. When you want something easy to drink but different this holds good variety and fits that niche very well.

Background: While I was grabbing a few bottles to bring back from the excellent Craft Beer Kontor in Hannover I found out they had two taps on as well, one of which was this beer. So what could I do but try a quick one before heading out? Anything else would be rude. This is made as a collaboration between Welde and Himburg BrauKunstKeller – a pilsener made with pink and black peppers. Interesting. It was another hot day on trying this, so I was glad to hide away in the shade. Since I was on holiday I was more relaxed than normal, which always put me in a good mood for beer. This is listed as having 25 IBU, not bad – I always like when they list extra info like that.

coedo-kyara

Coedo: Kyara (Japan: Pilsner: 5.5% ABV)

Visual: Pale yellow gold with moderate white head and no real carbonation.

Nose: Malt caramel. Light nutty hops. Milky coffee. Dried apricot.

Body: Milky coffee. Honey. Creamy lemon. Light hop crispness. Quite malt led. Creamy. Oats. Nutty. Slight stewed fruit. Dried apricot. Raisins. Hop oils.

Finish: Toffee. Light bitterness. Milky coffee. Porridge. Moderate hop prickle. Walnuts. Slight chalk. Honey. Madeira.

Conclusion: I was not expecting this to have quite as thick body as it does. It packs in lots of caramel, lots of toffee, honey – even some nuttiness in there. I was expecting a crisp, fresh lager – this is a comparatively full force, sweet sipping, thing with a touch of hops layered on too.

Now as I have reference in the background, I tried this when it was just a few days older than it should have been – but despite that it still has some good, but not excessive, bitterness to it, and some light citrus notes working in there as well. Now the citrus would probably be more emphasised if tried when the beer was young but right now it seems like a sweet fruity dusting over the sweet malt base, leading out into a pretty nutty finish.

It is very easy drinking big sweetness. Light chalk and nutty character rises with the bitterness over time which gives a slight grounding to what is a predominantly sweet beer. If you want a refreshing lager then, as indicated before, you might find this a tad of a disappointment. However this still isn’t hard drinking, and gives a good chunk of flavour in exchange for that. While not a world shaker it actually had got quite a bit of range to with with darker fruity notes below. I think if I had it fresher there would probably be a bit more hop prickle to contrast as well, though that is just conjecture on my side at the moment.

A solid thick lager – on the heavier end of the style and better off for it. I approve.

Background: Haven’t had Coedo since I was last in Japan, which is a few years ago now – so when I saw this in Independent Spirit I thought I would grab it. Now it turns out this was very close to best before date when I grabbed it, so when I drank it, it was about a week past its best before date. When I noticed that I considered not putting the notes up – but decided against that for a couple of reasons 1) I still enjoyed it 2) Looking at the profile on the bottle and other notes it seems I have very close matches to theirs, so it doesn’t look like it was hurt too much and 3) beers have to travel a long way from Japan, so they tend to be a few months old by the time they get here anyway. Any which way, just keep that in mind when you are reading these notes. Drunk while listening to Meshuggah – Obzen – fucking brutally heavy, technically awesome metal.

Sainsbury Low Alcohol Czech Lager

Staropramen: Sainsbury’s Czech Low Alcohol Pilsner Lager (Czech Republic: Low Alcohol Pilsner: 0.5% ABV)

Visual: Clear yellow grain. Moderate carbonation. Had a white head, but by the time I had finished kicking my errant camera it had nearly vanished.

Nose: Wet cardboard.

Body: Moderate malt. Slightly chalky. Soft vanilla and palma violets. Light bitterness. Cereal grain. Soft lemon and fruit very late on in the beer.

Finish: Vanilla. Dry. Dried banana touch. Palma violets. Soft lemon on pancakes.

Conclusion: A low alcohol beer night. Because obviously I know how to par-tay! After having been to Prague I figured the best way to recreate that feeling was with a low abv beer from a supermarket brand*.

*warning, some unnecessary sarcasm may be in use.

It is kind of an empty beer. Thankfully not chemically, not an abomination against all things good and proper. Just…empty. There is just about enough to identify it as that elusive pilsner character. Just about. There is a soft palma violet vibe, and an ease of drinking to it. The bitterness is way below the expected level, but on mouthfeel it isn’t terribly done.

I am damning with faint praise aren’t I? It’s intentional.

There just isn’t a huge amount to it. A light kind of grain cereal flavour, some vanilla sweetness to round off the edges. At least it is better than the aroma, which is basically wet cardboard.

It is effectively inoffensive, nowhere near as bad as say Tesco Value Lager or as chemically as Becks Alcohol Free. Also not huge and flavoursome like Drink in the Sun/Snow. It is just, well, there. Beer feeling and lager tasting, but not much more than that.

Late on it does manage some soft fruit, so manages to touch base with enough elements to say it is a Czech Pilsner, but they are so lightly done that it is nowhere near a well crafted one. At 0.5% abv I would think I was being picky, if I had not tried so much better examples.

I guess it keeps your hand off stronger beers if you are driving, and it just about calls to Czech Pilsners so you don’t hate drinking it.

So, ok, not terrible, but far from any form of excitement that a beer should bring.

Background: looking at rate beer apparently this is identical to, or very close to Staropramen Nealko. Never tried it, couldn’t say. Anyway, after coming back from Prague and their excellent Bohemian Pilsners, I saw this. and because I obviously wanted to shit all over my memories I bought a few bottles. Well, it was more that I like to keep an eye out for low abv beers that don’t actually suck. Some of them actually do exist. So I thought I would give this a try. Drunk while listening to some “Hate In The Box”, which may give an impression of my expectations for this beer.

Tipsy Gypsy

Gypsy Inc: Tipsy Gypsy (Denmark: Pilsner: 4.7% ABV)

Visual: Pale grain.

Nose: Malty. Light lemon sherbet. Light cardboard.

Body: Prickly and pickles. Lemon on pancakes. Apricot. Light bitterness. Toffee and malt character. Condensed cream. Strawberry.

Finish: Lemon sherbet. Cadbury cream egg centres and brown sugar. Light hop prickle. Growing bitterness after starting initially low.

Conclusion: Ohh, bad luck on timing for this one. For the beer anyway, and maybe me. You see, it’s a lager. Just after Prague. Which I did kind of pick deliberately. Ohh boy this is going to get closely examined.

The aroma had me worried straight away, it was fresh, but indistinct. Worse still there was this kind of wet cardboard aroma. A bad sign, and not what I expected from something linked with Mikkeller.

The main body did a quick, and very necessary, recovery of expectations. It quickly throws in lots of freshness, some sweet and creamy notes and a slight backing of prickling flavour. It was nice enough but the malt character seemed a bit heavy. The toffee, condensed cream and other such elements seemed to be the most prevalent ones. Now these are not bad flavours, but they don’t sit right here, they don’t quite fit with expectations of the pilsner, which is forgivable, but they seem to hinder the expression of the other elements, which isn’t.

That actually sums up a lot about the beer. There is a nice hop prickle, but it doesn’t do much to show the rest of the beer in a good light. There is a bit of fruit, but again fails to synergise. Also, and quite a harsh criticism for lager, it really doesn’t feel that crisp and so smoothly drinkable.

So, not bad beer. It has charming elements, but yeah, it really does not show itself as massively interesting as either a lager or a beer. It is ok at best.

Background: Ok, can someone help me? What is the difference between Mikkeller and Gypsy Inc? It is a new project from Mikkeller and, well that’s all I can find. So why the different name? I know not. Anyway, being back from land of the awesome lager (Czech Republic) and needing my quality lager kick I decided to break open this Pilsner I had picked up from the Guest Beer section of Brewdog.

Little Yella Pils

Oskar Blues: Mama’s Little Yella Pils (USA: Pilsner: 5.3% ABV)

Visual: Clear yellow to grain. Moderate white loose bubbled head. Low to moderate carbonation.

Nose: Lightly malty. Crisp. Touch of hop bitterness. Banana sweet.

Body: Sweet banana. Malt biscuits and crisp bitterness. Sherbet lemon taste and feel. Pineapple. Peach.

Finish: Malt biscuits, dry hops and bitterness. Jiff lemon on pancakes. Slight pineapple. Slight lime. Quite dry.

Conclusion: How very civilized this beer feels, like all the elements are carefully waiting their turn to express themselves, then when they get the chance they do it is a measured but present manner.

There’s the crisp lager character and similarly crisp hops, balanced rather than big. There is the malt sweetness with banana touches, and a malt biscuit solidness done without being too heavy. That slight sherbet feel lets it move out into restrained lemon and apricot flavours. Unlike some craft beer interpretations this feels like a lager, it doesn’t try to be “big” like an ale, but it still manages to fit it so many elements, with slight tartness, bitterness and well crafted flavours in there. As I say, civilised, nothing trying too hard to grab the limelight and embarrassing itself while shutting out the other flavours.

Now it isn’t perfect, the hops are just a tad muggy in the finish for example, but for the most part it shows the hard to do balance of being restrained rather than booming, yet keeping the complexity in an easy to drink lager. So, on that point, by far the most important point, it does the job right. The sweet and tart flavours exchange places politely, the hops to citrus deftly exchange like dance partners. It is never dull, but always a lager and so easy to drink.

Not perfect, and not like the best of bohemian pilsners that turn out flavour masterpieces, but an excellent casual drinking lager.

Background: Ok, while I’ve not been reviewing many, I’ve drunk quite a few Oskar Blues beers recently and they have been impressing me so far. So I decided to give their Pils a chance, for one thing a pils in a can seems less weird than an Imperial Stout. Its less of a shock to the systems. I grabbed this from Brewdog’s Guest Beer selection. Drunk while listening to Erock’s “No More Heroes”. I found out about the guys music from his “* Meets Metal” range on youtube and decided it was worth throwing some money his way to see what his own tunes sounded like. Fun guitar work and beer, good times.

Vagabond Pilsner

Brewdog: Vagabond Pilsner (Scotland: Pilsner: 4.5% ABV)

Visual: Grain gold. White inch of froth and some suds around the glass.

Nose: Pineapple hops. Quite bitter. Kumquat. Golden syrup cake. Touch of lemon sherbet.

Body: Bitter. Ginger cake. Lots of hops. Egg planet. Hard boiled egg with solid centre. Passion fruit. Sweet golden syrup touch to the middle. Custard notes.

Finish: Dry and bitter. Egg plant. Passion fruit. Dry. Golden syrup cake again.

Conclusion: This is a lager? Actually, now I say that, yes I can believe it. I’ve tried some highly bitter German lagers and this follows the trend but with USA hops.

Almost like an American Pale Ale in style, with that notable dry finish. Mid body though, for all the bitterness, has that easy drinking lager texture. It also helps that there is that touch of sweetness to slip it down through the hops. The flavour is very American hops, dry citrus and fresh notes, high amounts of alpha acids against a good use of malt sweetness.

Normally this would be where I say “The beer tries to straddle two styles and so fails to be a good example of either”. Well, the thing is, it doesn’t. Fail that is. For all the dryness it still drinks like a good lager, and it has that great big aroma and flavour. The worst I can say against it is that it is going to be a hell of a shock for anyone expecting an unassuming lager.

For a Brewdog beer it is quite low abv, and despite the bitterness I could quite see it as being sessionable taken in halves. Probably the best lager Brewdog has put out in an area that they usually struggle with,

A very good, very bitter, session lager. (Disclaimer: I have killed my taste buds with hops: may not be sessionable for non insane people)

Background: I first drank this after the Republica Gig, and thus was in a very cheery mood and somewhat drained and sweat drenched on sampling.  This review was done the next day, in a more calm and refined atmosphere as I returned to the bar. A heavily hopped pilsner using American hops.  Lager styles have traditionally been a weak spot in the Brewdog arsenal. As always I am not an unbiased actor on Brewdog beers. Unfortunately the photo of the beer didn’t come out too well. Apologies.

CIMG2073

Brewdog: Nuns with Guns (Scotland: Pilsner: 4.2% ABV)

Visual: Clear grain to gold with a moderate loose bubbled white head.

Nose: Muted spearmint. Dry malt and apricot.

Body: Fresh spearmint. Dried apricot and pineapple. Sugar dust and green apples.

Finish: Apples and light hop character. Light mint.

Conclusion: The only of this year’s (well last year’s now) prototypes not to be returning. A pity really. In itself it is not an excellent beer, but it isn’t a bad one. Compared to Brewdog’s 77 Lager it is a massive improvement and to my mind would make a very good replacement for it.

It’s fresh with subtle fruit flavour including touches of apple and pineapple. Quite sweet and low hop character. There is an odd love it or hate it mint touch to the character as well that make sit feel sparkly and fresh after a mouthful.

Compared to Beersel Lager or Mikkeller Summer Pilsner it doesn’t play in the same league. The flavours here are more understated and gently refreshing compared to the out and out excellence of those two. The malt feels a bit dry in the finish. Also there is a slight granite feel to the finish, an element it shares with 77.  I think it is part of the small hop character and it doesn’t work well with the generally refreshing character of the rest of the beer.

However for all that it falls compared to the big guns it is far and away above the morass that makes up most of the British lager scene. The main centre is a simple sweet apricot base that the other flavours hang off.  The aforementioned apple is refreshing but not too tart for a drinker used to easier going beers. It’s got good juiciness and doesn’t hang heavy for the most part. With a bit of work it could be a good gateway beer.

So a gentle lager with usual fruit flavours, a quite weak finish and potentially crowd splitting mintyness.   Frankly if this replaced 77 lager I wouldn’t complain. If they took it back, brushed up the finish and maybe gave it a richer aroma then they could even be onto a winner.

Background: Last of the Brewdog  prototypes.  This one came last in the voting.   A comparatively low abv pilsner. As always I am not an unbiased actor on Brewdog beers Enjoyed with a mix of music that included Plan B Ill Manors, Orbital Dr Who? And Megadeth Duke Nukem.

CIMG2065

Mikkeller Bedow: Summer Pilsner (Denmark: Pilsner: 4.7% ABV)

Visual: Slightly hazy yellowed gold. Half inch of bubbles loose white head and wheaty looking.

Nose: Tart grapefruit and pineapple. Vanilla. Crisp. Ground lemon rind.

Body: Bitter and hop kick. Gooseberry. Toffee malt. Lemon. Pink grapefruit. White sugar dusting. Light orange.

Finish: Orange and good amount of hop bitterness. Custard cream biscuits. Zesty lemon sherbet. Candy floss.

Conclusion: The lager is a beer so easily ignored, mainly because it is a style so easily badly made. Then by contrast we have this. Warning: It has bitterness. Now an experienced lager drinker, especially in the better German takes on the style, will not be surprised or put off by that. However it can be a wake up call for a novice.

It is a crisp beer as a lager should be but with quite the bitter bite. It also keeps things fresh with pink grapefruit and lemon zest. This beer is a wake up call to your taste buds. Between these contrasting elements it somehow managed to creates a stupidly easy to drink beer. I was half way through the glass before I realized I had barely taken any notes yet.

The two big flavour elements don’t clash but dance back and froth with each other over a line drawn by subtle candy floss like sweetness. The malt manages to bring a bit of weight, the rising toffee malt character is the only real heavy element of the beer and manages to give it that bit of body it needs to not seem too empty.

I don’t know how the beer manages warm, it didn’t last that long. However as a lager the chilling really didn’t seem to hurt, as should be expected. A good amount of flavour backing without sacrificing the lagers strengths. It is like Mikkeller went back to American Dream and gave it a redesign to see how to make it really work. A rare example of a lager that shows exactly what you can do with one.

Background: Ok, ratebeer says premium lager for style but it calls itself a pilsner and the style has enough range in it that I would happily put it under that. Anyway, another from Mikkeller and I felt like hunting for a good lager beer again. I have far too many dark beers in my cupboard right now and I felt like something a bit refreshing. Bedow, I think, is the production company that did the art for the bottle. The flowers are meant to start dark circles when cold and “bloom” when the bottle is warm. I think my bottle is broken as it never went out of bloom.  I am sure I saw a reference to this having either orange peel or orange juice in it but I could be going mad, so don’t take my word on that.

Three Floyds: Jinxproof (USA: Pilsner: 5.1% ABV)

Visual: Highly carbonated beer with an almost weisse beer light yellow body and a banana yoghurt coloured large bubbled froth head.

Nose: light, with wheat touches. Hard banana sweets. Crushed orange peel. Light syrup touches. Slight cinnamon and toffee. Peanuts

Body: Banana syrup, very slick. Medium malt, lemon and orange slight citrus back. Banana skin. Slightly powdery bitter offsets at the back as well. A ginger beer slight spiciness.

Finish: Banana, wheaty yet slick. Slight bitter. Syrup and ginger. Bitter Cashew nuts about half way through. Sour dough near the end.  The bitterness rises as the pint level descends.

Conclusion: So how much can you do with a Pilsner? Let’s see how Three Floyds takes a shot at the style.  Well, it’s not a shake up or break down of the style, but does do the pre existing style very well with mixes from the many different takes that exist.

Nice batch of flavours, with wheat beer style banana, ginger ale spiciness, a sour dough touch that reminds me of Radeberger Pilsner (though thankfully much more subtle) and a cashew nut finish.

It is well made and very drinkable, with slight spice to excite, and the abv and refreshing qualities almost make it sessionable.  The bitterness and sour dough build up over the glass though, and the beer ends just before they would get annoying which seems the only points that would stop it being a good all evening lager.

Not my favourite style I will admit, but a damn drinkable take on it

Background: Three Floyds are a craft brewer in USA with sterling reputation for top quality ales, in part because of its once a year released Dark Lord.  As of such, it along with Hair Of The Dog are two brewers I always keep an eye open for beers from.  Apparently the name Jinx Proof comes from a tattoo parlour in Washington, which explains the slightly odd bottle art. Whilst Pilsner are not the most exciting style to me, I do find they have their place in the beer world and enjoy trying quality versions of the styel

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