Old Chimney: Brimstone (England: Pilsner: 6.1% ABV)
Visual: Pale clear apple juice brown gold with a decent thumb thickness of bubbly white head. Many small bubbles sizzle in the main body.
Nose: Cloves, jiff lemon. What. Cinnamon and orange peel.
Body: Slick texture, slight thickness. Honey, lemon and wheat. Sturdy and smooth.
Finish: Honey on white toast. Dry finish. Some hops and a lick of raspberry.
Conclusion: A honey thickened lager is the best way I can describe this after drinking this charming beer. More on texture than flavour, it really is that touch extra thickness that makes it stand out.
It’s above middle for the style and hardly any fizziness thank goodness, reasonable flavour and an intriguing unique selling point in the texture and honey style. A beer for when light lager mead sounds like just the thing you need.
Hakone Kenjyou Beer (Pilsner) (Japan: Pilsner: 5% ABV)
Visual: Golden yellow with a decent frothy white head and moderate carbonation.
Nose: Light hops and summer fields, quite dry and wheat chaff. Light hint of banana, but very subtle.
Body: Smooth and honeyed. Very slick. Lovely dose of malt in the middle then golden syrup. Only light fluffy bubbling which does not intrude.
Finish: Banana, syrup, apricot. Again light hops. Pineapple.
Conclusion: The first stand out beer of the trip and it turns out to be a pilsner!
This is a smooth easy going beer with lovely crisp flavour and some decent elements backing it up.
Thankfully it does not suffer from the wild carbonation that has ruined so many beers in Japan, and it rates highly for the style comparing well against my current favourites.
For pure flavour it cannot compare with the heavy hitters of other styles, but as a pilsner that is not its intent, and so no one expects that. It is however a fantastic subtle and light beer laden with hidden intricacies.
An example of how to do lager right.
Brewdog 77 Lager: (Scotland: Pilsner: 4.9% ABV)
Visual: Pale brown gold, large bubbly head but dissipates quickly
Nose: Wood sap, glucose. Very light hops, apricot.
Body: Barley; slight honey. Peaches and sweet fruits. Touch of chives, maize. Crunchy nut cornflakes.
Finish: Lovely malt, dry gnawn wood. Sugar and strawberry.
Conclusion: A balanced lager, not exceptional but complex for the style. It has a rich body with fruit touches. This beer straddles the ale lager line and mixes it well.
The downside is that some of the more bitter notes don’t quite balance out, but generally a beer that rounds out well.
The cask version is a superior effort to the bottle version sampled here; it brings in extra creamier flavours.
Worth noting, my Father, a dedicated follower of the somewhat less flavoursome lagers was tempted into trying this on tap and found it to be a fine break from the norm – and who can say no to beer with recommendation like that – so possibly a good beer for converting those who normally avoid the more unusual beers. (It seems beer runs in the family 🙂 )
Victory Prima Pils (USA: Pilsener: 5.3% ABV)
Visual: Light yellow; long frothy head
Nose: Lightly hoppy , Yorkshire fields
Body: raw malt smoothing out with a light sweetness
Finish: Dry wood – more malt
Conclusion: By far not the best Pils style beer but not a bad effort. Slightly too light on the flavour for my tastes, but still a nice beer for a barbecue on a hot summers day when the food would overpower the subtleties of other beers