Welcome to our weekly beer review, wherein we point you toward the world’s destination ales.
Beer: Pils, Czech Style Pilsner
Brewery: Lagunitas, Petaluma, CA
Availability: Unlimited release. Lagunitas is currently distributed to about 40 states as well as Alberta, Canada with an expanding distribution map on the horizon. They’ve built a new outpost in Chicago that’s already making beer and will open to the public in the next few weeks.
Tasting notes: If you’re afraid of “craft” beer and generally prefer the taste of the products that flow out of the BIG American breweries, consider this your gateway beer. Like a many pilsners, it has a bready, cracker-like smell that with subtle hints of citrus and corn. Using imported Saaz hops to stay true to the original Pilsener style, Lagunitas manages to create a truly satisfying traditional pilsner.
Food pairings: Subtle flavors are the way to go when pairing this subtle style of beer. Delicate cheeses, fish tacos, and ballpark food all work well with this and other pilsners. It’s also the perfect beer to drink with whatever you’re eating after you’ve mowed the lawn and really need something cold and refreshing.
The world of beer is divided into two main families, ales and lagers. Up to this point we have explored only ales, but with the temperature rising it’s time we drink a refreshing pilsner — a noble member of the lager family. The main difference in the two families of beers can be found in the fermentation phase. Ales are generally fermented with a top-fermenting yeast strain at a warmer temperature for a shorter period of time. Lagers ferment with a bottom-fermenting yeast strain at a cooler temperature for a much longer amount of time. The combination of lower temperature and a longer time mean the yeast will be less active during fermentation, allowing the beer to slowly acquire a clean and crisp flavor profile.
Lagunitas makes one of my favorite Pilsners in the country. According to their website, the beer is “Crisp and easy to slam — yet full of real flavor and all the things you yearn for.” Lagunitas knows me well, because this beer most definitely has all the pilsner flavor I yearn for. When you’re outside on a hot day doing yard work, you don’t reach into the fridge for an Imperial Stout or a heavy porter, you want something refreshing. If you’re like me, you also don’t want your beer lacking in flavor.
This pilsner is artfully made in the traditional style with traditional ingredients. It is clear that the folks at Lagunitas respect the proud tradition of pilsners. To misquote the most interesting man in the world: “ I don’t always drink pilsners, but when I do I drink Lagunitas.”