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%

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%