Pilsner – American: Oskar Blue’s Mama’s Lil Yella Pils

This week with the sun slowly making it’s way out from behind the clouds, I’ve chosen a great example of a Pilsner by Oskar Blue’s Brewery. Although this one is a summer brew, even if the quintessential British weather sticks around you can still enjoy it. Oskar Blue’s are from Colorado, and often their weather can have a schizophrenic turn as much as ours! The fact that this a year round brew confirms the fact that this is a beer that can be enjoyed all year round as well as when the sun is shining.

Let’s start with Oskar Blue’s description of the beer:

Oskar Blues’ Mama’s Little Yella Pils is an uncompromising, small-batch version of the beer that made Pilsen, Czech Republic, famous. Unlike mass market “pilsners” diluted with corn & rice, Mama’s is built with 100% pale malt, German specialty malts, and Saaz hops. While its rich with Czeched-out flavor, its gentle hopping (35 IBUs) and low ABV (just 5.3%) make it a luxurious but low-dose (by Oskar Blues standards) refresher.

 

Quite an informative description that gives a little bit away about the recipie and also slates Adjunct Lager. As I’ve noted before in previous posts, Pilsner is one of the original lager styles and is definitely one of the more “premium” styles of lager. This one is no different and is confirmed in it’s description. I also quite like the fact that it says “czeched-out” as there’s nothing wrong with a Dad joke in a description!

I had to taste this one a few times before I came up with what I think is in the recipe. From the description you’ve got the nice floral, clean Saaz hops, but also I think there’s a little bit of Bravo hop in there too adding a little bitterness and even more floral flavour. The reason I say this, is because this beer is seriously floral in taste compared to the Summerfest I wrote about the other week. For the speciality malts, I think Pilsen Malt, Munich Malt, Crystal 20L and American Wheat Malt are used. This really helps the Pilsner flavour and the Wheat, as always helps the head rentention. I don’t usually comment on yeasts, as it’s always a brewery’s secret but the common one for beers like this is SafLager Weinhenstephan. Judging by the description, I think this is the one Oskar Blue’s most probably went for with Mama’s Lil Yella Pils.

When you pour this beer, it comes out of the can just as described – yellow. It pours with a nice fluffy medium white head that maintains excellent retention and leaves a sticky pattern on the glass as it settles. The first thing you notice is the incredible sweet, bready and floral smell coming from the glass tempting you in. There’s also a little hint of freshly cut grass which is a nice addition. On tasting this beer, the floral aromas really come out in the taste leaving behind sourdough and sweet bready malt tastes. When you think it’s over the floral kick comes back and ends with a subtle bitter and medium dry finish. The beer is quite carbonated, as a lager should be but doesn’t leave you feeling bloated and bogged down. This really is an excellent American Adaptation of a pilsner, and one of my favourites so far. It’s a very smooth, crisp, refreshing brew and excellent for after (or during!) a hard days work. I reccomend drinking it outside, even if it is colder that usual!

Overall, a great example of a Pilsner with an American twist and something I would most definitely recommend as one of my favourite examples of the style.

You can purchase Mama’s Lil Yella Pils in the UK at:

Beers of Europe (In stock at time of writing!)

Hippo Beers

Bottledog Kings Cross (ask before travelling!)

Unfortunately, Oskar Blue’s do not have set distribution in the UK but for bars and shops wanting to stock it I would recommend contacting Beers of Europe as they may be able to help you out.

EST. CALORIES: 159   ABV: 5.3%

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Travel: Beer and Food in Barcelona

Seeing as I like heat and this summer has been a bit humid and cloudy, I decided to take a short 3 day break to Barcelona. Apart from fitting loads in seeing the sites, I managed to track down a few very good food/beer places for this blog and this special post is about them. Barcelona really is a beautiful city and I will be going back there at some point!

Kiosko

I stumbled across this place when visiting the Barceloneta area. They do absolutely amazing burgers and you can check out their menu on their website. They have a great selection with Lamb, Pork, Beef and even Vegetarian Burgers. I went for the Chicken burger which was more like an extremely tasty sandwich due to the brown bread choice. The chicken was just breast meat, cut quite thin and then marinaded for 12 hours. The bread was also freshly rolled that morning (the complete sandwich pictured above). It was absolutely incredible and they also made all of the condiments and mayonnaise themselves in the kitchen. I really do recommend this place.  Kiosko has amazing food and sells one of Barcelona’s most popular lagers – Moritz. Whilst this is a lager on a large production and is not considered as craft beer, it rivals Damm’s Estrella which is made across the city which is seriously mass produced and uses adjuncts in it’s lager recipe. This creates something less enjoyable, a tasteless fizzy yellow liquid. More on that later. Although Moritz is produced on a large scale and is not a craft brewery, for a Euro Pale Lager it isn’t too bad. The fact they use Saaz hops in the beer is a great effort and it’s a thousand times better than a lot of the mass produced lagers out there and almost tastes like a Pilsner. Pretty okay in hot weather.

The other local mass produced beers are Damm’s Estrella, which is quite frankly absolutely tasteless and there’s nothing to really write about it apart from it tastes a bit like Carlsberg mixed with Budwieser and to be honest isn’t even really refreshing on a hot day due to it’s extreme fizzyness. Damm also make Damm Lemon, which is like a Radler and to be honest was quite refreshing in 36 Degrees Celcius heat but in a sort of Sprite/Fanta Lemon way and finally, Voll Damm which is their attempt at a Märzen / Oktoberfest beer. In my opinion the beer doesn’t really reflect this style but out of the Damm beers sold everywhere it’s bearable and it actually has a very malty taste. Let’s move on…

Mosquito

Next up is Mosquito, a restaurant that is a fusion of Tapas and Dim-Sum. The menu is great and the staff are really friendly! The dumplings are out of this world, and they have cold and hot choices. The stand outs for me were the Lemon Lime Chicken and the Beef Dumplings. Another definite recommendation from me here! Mosquito also has a huge selection of Craft and Belgian beers with over 200 bottles and 7 taps to choose from.

I ordered a Belgian beer in Mosquito called Caracole Ambrée, as I’d never seen it before and the waitress recommended it. Although I usually write in depth reviews, this is an article about Barcelona’s Beer and Food places I visited, so the reviews will be briefer than usual. Back to the beer – When you pour this beer, be careful as it literally explodes out of the bottle with serious carbonation. It pours an amber colour leaving a thick foam on the sides of the glass as you drink. It really is an inciting looking brew. You can definitely smell the funky belgian yeast which has traces of Strawberries, Bananas but also some Citrusy Hops and a nice sweet malt backbone. This is definitely an outstanding Belgian beer as far as smell goes. It starts with a big alcohol kick, followed by some citrus and a lot of funky Belgian yeast notes – banana, cherries and fruitcake finishing with sweet roasted malts. It really did go down a treat, especially with the food! Good recommendation Mosquito waitress! 

Bier Cab

Last but almost definitely not least, I visited Bier Cab in the Universitat area. Bier Cab is a great Gastropub and I had some absolutely amaing Tapas here. Nachos with Pico de Gallo and Guacamole, Chicken Strips and Potato Cubes with hot sauce and sour cream on top of them. After sharing these, I had a burger which was incredible. Loads of spanish cheese, hot sauce, medium rare burger, pickles and caramalised onions on a freshly baked bun. This was another place that made all their sauces, condiments and everything else.

I had 3 beers whilst in Biercab, To Øl Amass (Oatmeal Stout), Uncommon Brewers Siamese Twin Ale that had been Barrel Aged and Lervig Aktiebryggeri AS Rye IPA. To be honest I was completely spoilt for choice as BierCab has 30 ever changing taps and over 200 bottles (and even Beavertown Cans!) The current tap beers are displayed on a digital screen and when the kegs are changed to a different beer, it comes up on the screen straight away. It really is an experience. I seriously recommend this place as somewhere you cannot miss when visiting Barcelona.

Lervig Rye IPA arrived golden and hazy with a generous head which dissipates slowly leaving some sticky lacing. I could smell the piney hops, toasty sweet Rye and citrus as soon as the beer was put on the table. It really was a fantastic smelling brew and so fresh! The taste starts with some sweet rye, goes into some pine and grassy notes ending with great citrus bitterness, it’s an extremely enjoyable IPA and definitely verges on imperial. I need to try and get this again somehow! Despite the intense flavours, it’s smooth and goes down well hiding the 8.5 percentage but finishes very dry.

Next up was the Barrel Aged version of Siamese Twin ale from Uncommon Brewers, which I’m told was aged in Red Wines and began life as a Dubbel. Arrived an Ox Blood red with a generous head which dissipates to a thin cap that unfortunately left no lacing. There’s a lot going on with the smell of this beer – Red Grape must, red wine, some sweet malts but no hop smell dectectable. When you taste this beer you get an initial hit of brown sugarn then it transforms into Red Wine with some tart flavours and subtle banana on the finish. This one is lightly carbonated and finishes pretty sweet.

Fianlly, To Øl Amass (pictured above). As a stout it arrived black resembling coffee with a thick brown sugar coloured head. Head retention was great and it left a thick coating on the glass.
It smelt very roasty indeed with some coffee notes, burnt sugar, can definitely smell some oat in there too.
When you first drink this beer, you get milky coffee dark roasty flavour followed salted caramel, some sweet oat notes finishing with some piney hop which fades to a fudge taste. This really was dark and complex and in my opinion fantastic! It finished very smooth indeed due to the oats with an almost silky mouth feel, I’m guessing this is heavily hopped although the flavours are very subtle because it finishes very dry.

Barcelona really is a fantastic city, I really do recommend visiting whenever you can. The food is incredible and if you know where to look, the beer is too. If not, there’s always Moritz as a good go to in a beach bar.

Remember this is an extra post guys! Tomorrow I’ll be back to my usual format and be writing about the awesome Dogfish Head Festina Pêche!

Pilsner – American: Sierra Nevada Summerfest

This week comes a seasonal brew from another of my favorite brewers, Sierra Nevada. The beer is called Summerfest and is a Lager/Pilsner.

As I’ve said before, there’s nothing better than a well crafted lager on a hot day and this is no objection to that.

Let’s start with Sierra Nevada’s description:

Crisp summertime lager.

Since their invention in the 1840s, Pilsener-style beers have become the world’s most popular style. With a nod toward the original Czech tradition, Summerfest is brewed to feature the best of Bohemian nature. Crisp, golden, dry and incredibly drinkable, Summerfest has a delicate and complex malt flavor and spicy and floral hop character—the perfect warm weather beer.

 

A nice short and sweet description that gives you a little history behind the Pilsner style. For those that don’t have a long time to trawl through the Wikipedia, here’s a quick beer history lesson – Before the 1840’s absolutely everyone drank Ale and Lager did not exist. One day a brewery in a city called Plzen or Pilsen in what is now the Czech Republic made what is regarded as the first lager. Due to the softness of the water and the nearby Saaz hops, the beer became a huge success and helped make the base for what we know as a lager today – the perfect hot weather beer! After some thought and searching around, I think Sierra Nevada use 3 different types of malt in this brew. First, the two-row pale barley malt and then some Munich and some German Pilsner malt to stay true to the style. As for the hops, most definitely Saaz hops and some Perle Hops to keep it traditional, then possibly some Spalt Select hops to update the recipe a little bit.

This beer pours quite similar to a lot of the usual lagers you find, but it’s not as fizzy. The carbonation is still live but if you slip whilst pouring you get a huge head! The head turned out to be quite generous I poured it and I did it carefully (with some vigor of course, as you want some foam when you pour!) It pours a deep yellow colour which is very inviting in weather like this. The bubbles rise up quickly like a quick torrent you see in a bottle of Sprite. The smell of this beer is great, crisp earthy hops, a little bit of citrus, a big floral hop aroma with subtle banana along with sweet malts in the background. Summerfest really is an inviting beer on a hot, humid day. When you taste this beer, the first thing you’ll notice is the light lemon zest at the beginning which then fades into some nice sweet, lightly roasted malts. There’s also a light grassy taste with a little bit of spicy hop. This really is a crisp, clean beer and very well crafted. The flavours really do compliment each other extremely well. It feels solidly carbonated in your mouth but finishes really crisp and refreshing. What a great lager!

I’d recommend this beer for chilling out in the sun, or whilst doing some summer gardening. I can’t stress how refreshing it is!

You can purchase Sierra Nevada Summerfest in the UK at:

Beers Of Europe

For any Bars/Shops looking to stock this beer, Sierra Nevada beers are imported into the UK by James Clay and Fuller’s in the UK.

EST. CALORIES: 150   ABV: 5%

 

 

American Independence Day! Beer: Anchor California Lager

Anchor Beer

I thought I’d start with this Anchor California Lager, seeing as it’s independence day, it’s made by an American company and the sun is shining. This one is definitely a summer brew!

A lot of people don’t like lagers, but I think there’s nothing better than a well crafted lager on a hot day.

Let’s start with Anchor Brewing‘s description of the beer:

“Anchor Steam’s roots go back to the Gold Rush, long before icehouses and modern refrigeration made traditional lagers a viable California option. In 1876, thanks to an ice pond in the mountains and a belief that anything is possible in the Golden State, a little brewery named Boca created California’s first genuine lager. Anchor California Lager® is our re-creation of this historic American beer.

Made in San Francisco with two-row California barley, Cluster hops (the premier hop in 19th-century California), and our own lager yeast, this all-malt brew is kräusened and lagered in our cellars. Its golden color, distinctive aroma, creamy head, balanced depth of flavor, and smooth finish make Anchor California Lager® a delicious celebration of California’s unique craft brewing heritage.

The California grizzly bear on our Anchor California Lager label is from a woodcut by Durbin Van Vleck (1833–1898), courtesy of The Bancroft Library, UC Berkeley. First published in 1856 in San Francisco, it is a superbly crafted rendering of an original illustration by Charles Christian Nahl (1818–1878), who had painted both eastbound and westbound versions of this bear. Nearly a century later, Nahl’s bear served as inspiration for the design of the bear on California’s modern state flag. Although that bear is heading west, our bear—like the bear on Boca Brewing’s historic lager label—is heading east.”

Quite a long description, but Anchor always like to almost over describe their beer, a bit like Stone Brewing. However, Stone always are quite sarcastic in their blurbs and it makes it funny. More on them another time.

The recipe of Two-Row Barley, Cluster Hops and Lager Yeast is definitely a great attempt at a Pre-Prohibition Lager. The story behind it also has some truth in it which is always nice. It’s much better than MillerCoor’s attempt when they made Batch 19, which was meant to be Coors before Prohibition, or Miller, or something. It ended up tasting the same, but looked like food colouring had been added to it. Anyway, this blog is meant to be about good beer so I’ll continue with the California Lager.

This beer pours slightly different to a lot of lagers, with a head that is quite thick and dense which tends to stay on top of the beer the whole time with an impressive thin cap. It has a lovely strawberry blonde/yellow colour and looks a lot more inviting than most lagers. It smells very biscuity but instead of the often metallic smell of a lot of lagers you get a nice clean grassy note from the hops in the beer. That’s right! This lager actually has a hop profile! It’s a really simple clean smell, but the hardest part of a lager isn’t usually the recipe! The first thing you notice when you taste this beer, is the fact it’s not heavy at all. It’s really light and clean, refreshing. The taste of the lager yeast is still there, as it is with all lagers but on top of that you get a really nice clean grassy note and a tasty biscuity flavour. It’s quite carbonated, which is expected but it’s ultra-smooth at the same time and one of the cleanest and light craft beers I’ve had. You really could imagine drinking this all day whilst working hard in the sun, or you could actually do it (if your job allows that sort of thing).

Definitely something I would buy again, and definitely something I would recommend

You can purchase Anchor California Lager in the UK at:

Beers of Europe

Noble Green Wines

Amazon (No I’m not winding you up!)

And probably some other places too, google it!

For any bars, shops etc that are interested, Anchor products are distributed by James Clay in the UK and comes in Cans and Bottles.

EST. CALORIES: 147   ABV: 4.9%