Howdy beer fans!
While things are certainly still weird right now, I have tried to make an effort on the weekends to stop by 2-3 local spots and grab beer for the week. This has been fun as I usually run into a few of y’all, we catch up for a minute – in real life – and then I have some fun local beer to enjoy throughout the week. Since Alliance has been doing more lagers recently, on one trip I bought only lagers. While they were all great, one beer was so good I went back just for that particular beer. What was that beer? You guessed it; the Czech Pilsner.
When I was studying for the second level of the Cicerone exam, I knew my tasting game had to be more solid than it was. I took a BJCP course, sat for that exam – and passed – then made it a point to continue to bolster my weak points. One of those areas were European lagers mostly because they just weren’t beers I gravitated towards. At the time, most local craft brewers weren’t producing many lagers because they took to much time to ferment. Subsequently, I wasn’t running across them too frequently. There was a period of time when I’d go study at the Casual Pint on Northshore and just drink European lagers from the cooler. In my exam preparation I had read to look for styles that were close to one another as these were easy targets for the tasting part of the exam. One I figured I’d need to be ready for was a comparison between the German Pils and the Czech Premium Pale Lager or, as many of us know it, the Czech Pilsner. Being an area of weakness for me, what better way to get acquainted than by tasting them with some frequency. From what I recall, and I’m going from memory here, is that the German Pils tended to have more hop aroma, hop flavor and linger longer on the palate where as the Czech Pilsner tended to have more balance between the hops and malt and finish much more clean. The water also has an impact as German water has more sulfur and Czech much less – aiding the German Pils in its hop profile. The color of the Czech was also more of a golden color versus the German which tended to be lighter. I’ll be honest, I can still mix them up but I did learn to appreciate the style and am much more likely to go for one when I see it on a menu. Let’s jump into this beer.
The fine folks at Alliance are experts in their craft and I’ve always loved how head brewer Adam Ingle won’t hesitate to pull out style guidelines to ensure they are being true to style. As a result, Alliance has churned out some incredible beers. This one pours gold as I would expect with a wonderful white, airy head that sticks around on the glass and the surface of the beer. On the nose I find bready maltiness and an herb-like hop quality with a little bit of a spiciness to it. The aromas do not compete with one another but rather complement each other. On the palate the aromas bring forward more malt-bread-like characteristics that interplay with the herb and spice-notes of the hops. The beer has a moderate mouthfeel and moderate carbonation. While the bitterness is certainly there on the palate it does withdraw quickly and finishes almost clean on the palate.
Final snobs: If you dive into the history of this style you may discover that true pilsners are only brewed in Plzen within the Czech Republic. However, on this side of the pond, I’ll say that this is a wonderful homage to the style. Great beer, excellent job Alliance Brewing Company!
Note: Turns out I don’t have an appropriate glass for this beer. As I would like my marital status to remain as-is, I chose not to bring another glass into my home and went with the vintage Hilliard’s “can” glass I got on a trip to Seattle many years ago.