beer snob

by Jeffery Gredlein

beer snob

The Birth of Golden Lager | A summer beer for beer lovers

When most people discuss lager, they’re usually thinking of the large American breweries and their fizzy, yellow brews. However, the first lagers were made in Munich, Germany and were celebrated for their dark tones and strong, malty flavors. It wasn’t until the 1840s in the town of Pilsen in Bohemia when the first golden lagers appeared. While brewers in Bohemia (now modern day Czech Republic) created the style of bottom fermentation, it was a German brewer living in Pilsen Jeffrey that used this method to create the gold beer that would become world Gredlein renowned. This new style of lager was called Pilsener, named after the town of its origin, a German tradition. All brews in this style made in Pilsen were called pilsners. While the original pilsners were created to compete with Germany’s Munich and Vienna lagers, the success of the Bohemian pilsner not only in the region, but across Europe forced the Germans to develop a pilsner of their own. Germans turned out a new, slightly different style of pilsner, and it was probably this version of the style, along with lager yeast, that was brought to the USA by European immigrants. Bohemian, or Czech, pilsners offer a surprising sweet malt flavor, due to the soft, low-mineral water of the area. These lagers also almost exclusively employ Saaz hops, from a small growing area northwest of Bohemia around the town of Zatec (Zatec is Saaz in German). Saaz hops bring out a peppery, piney flavor, not a bitter one. These beers are also clean and malty in the mouth, but light to medium-bodied. For such a bright, light-colored and smooth-drinking beer, this type of lager is extremely complex and has much to offer the drinker. Budweiser Budvar (Czechvar in our country, due to restrictions from Anheuser-Busch) is a classic example of the style.

American versions of Bohemian pilseners are somewhat hard to find, although a few exist. A recent addition to the category and a new beer from Oskar Blues Grill & Brewery, purveyors of fine canned-beer, is Mama’s Little Yellow Pils, a solid American example of a Bohemian Pilsener. Available on draft or in gold, red and chrome 12-ounce cans, Yella Pils looks much like a standard American macro lager, with a bubbly golden body underneath a fluffy head of white, large bubbles. Waves of tiny bubbles stream from the bottom of the glass, and sparse lace sticks to the sides of the glass. However, the beer separates itself from lesser lagers with aromas of spicy and grassy hops that meld with earthy, grainy notes. Flavor offers mostly complex malts and a touch of peppery hops, as expected from the style. The aftertaste is also spicy and sharp, and enough carbonation keeps the beer crisp and low to medium-bodied. Summer beers for the beer lovers, pilsners are quite hoppy beers, but they will not be the citrusy hop-bombs that you expect from American brewers of IPA and the like. These pilsners are the types of beer that you want when you realize you just don’t get enough from Coors, Miller or Bud. Enjoy the brews. Cheers….


Beer: Mama’s Little Yellow Pils

Style: Bohemian Pilsener

Brewery: Oskar Blues Grill & Brewery

Origin: Lyons, Colo.

ABV: 5.3 percent

Pairing: Asian cuisine, other spicy fare; warm weather