Mike Barkacs reviews a real Pilsner

Sam Adams finally comes through with its Noble Pils, and that makes Mike very happy.

Although they are now this close to being a full fledged macro brewer (if they aren’t already – it’s just semantics), Sam Adams continues to put out quality beer. They have successfully proven that it is not necessary to dumb down the flavors to win over American beer drinkers. They have also filled a niche by brewing true-to-style beers that aren’t so insecure that they need to go horribly over the top like so many of today’s micros. Their new seasonal, Noble Pils, is a great addition to their lineup, a style that is absurdly nearly ignored on these shores.

As you’ll hear from any Czech, real pilsners are nothing like the ones that call themselves that in the States. It’s not just the water, either. A Budweiser is to a pilsner as the Geiko lizard is to a dragon. Except real pilsners do exist – somewhere. The Sam Adams is a true pilsner. I’ve had fresh-from-the-source pilsners in Prague that were no better. And, even when you can find them here, it’s next to impossible to find a fresh one. Freshness is vital to a good pilsner. They aren’t meant to age on dusty import shelves, like some ales can.

Check out the rest of the review for Mike’s full take.


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A holiday beer doesn’t make the cut

Our beer reviewer, Mike Barkacs, wasn’t too impressed with Delirium Noel.

I tried to love this beer. I just can’t. I try it every year, hoping the otherwise fabulous Brouwerij Huyghe can get it right. I love Delirium Tremens, and anybody that can come up with that obviously knows everything about brewing beer. How can they possibly get their Christmas beer wrong? It’s meant to be a gift to all their loyal beer loving customers. Not that it’s awfu — I doubt they could make an awful beer even if they tried — but this Christmas Ale falls so far below expectations that you may just want to re-gift it to the crazy uncle.

It looks, and smells, like it might even surpass expectations. And the 10% alcohol could make for a very merry Christmas season. It’s a deep reddish amber, but not as dark as many big Belgian dark ales. The head fades quickly to lacing, but that’s not unusual in most Christmas beers. While not being clear, it would be hard to call it cloudy. Maybe a thin, sedimentless fog. The aroma is both complex and entirely unusual for a Christmas ale. You expect to find a load of spices, tons of alcohol and plenty of malt. Those are there, but they are way back behind an almost saison-style earthiness. Then a load of strange fruits for a Christmas beer, the most prominent being banana, of all things. None of this is the least unpleasant. Unusual for the style, maybe, but very promising.

But that’s the point where the Noel loses me.

You can go read the rest of the review here.

Here’s one site’s recommendations on the 10 best holiday beers.