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Tuesday, March 8, 2016

The Tastes, They Are A-Changin'

Whenever I meet someone new at a beer event and hand them my card, their first question is usually, "What's your favorite beer?"

It's then that I trot out the somewhat tired, but ever-trusty old icebreaker line: "Like my underwear--Depends." The self-deprecating line works all of the time, but more importantly, it's absolutely true. Except for the underwear reference. So far, anyway.

And it always has been true. Changing seasons always cause my fridge to be stocked accordingly, with Fall and Winter seeing a plethora of Marzens and higher-alcohol beers (like imperial stouts, porters, tripels and quads) respectively. Spring and summer see maibocks and pale ales (India and otherwise) and pilsners. It's a formula I haven't varied--until this year.

And I blame Pilsner Urquell. Not the usual bottled product that's available in your local liquor locker, but a rare batch I sampled down at the Asbury Park Festhalle last May. I had been invited by Events Manager Jen Lambert to cover a story about a very special batch of unfiltered, unpasteurized Pilsner Urquell that was appearing stateside, along with its affable brewer, Vaclav Berka and its beer-savvy promoter Bryan Panzica. You can read that account here.

But that special batch of Pilsner Urquell (4.4% ABV) sparked a renewed interest for me in pilsners. Maybe because this was a warmer than average Fall and Winter, I found my beer tastes turning to good pilsners more often than to heavy imperial stouts and butt-kicking triples and quads.

Apparently, I was not alone, as this article from Jason Notte attests.  Victory's Prima Pils, Oskar Blues' Mama's Little Yella Pils, Firestone Walker's Pivo Pils, Six Point's The Crisp and too many others to mention satisfied my taste buds as well as my thirst through much of the winter of 2016. Even during that one big snowfall, I'd down a crisp, clean Pilsner to slake my shoveling thirst--before relaxing with something heavier and higher in alcohol. I came to understand why Josef Groll's "new" beer in 1842 turned so many heads when it made its debut.

Jen Lambert and Brewer Vaclav Berka
 I exhorted Jen to do another Pilsner Urquell Special, hopefully this May if she can. As I wrote here, the Czechs take their beer seriously. That story about The Golden Lion handing you your hat and taking your barstool if you're not drinking enough beer is proof enough. 

Of course, it all depends on the beer you're drinking.
Yup. Depends.

The PubScout

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