June 18 2012 05:59 PM

Sampling a venture into the limited run, big bottle' approach


I believe full disclosure is imperative to doing this job properly. When I have a bias that will cloud my judgment, I want to ensure that it's out in the open. So, when a brewery eventually sees fit to drop fat payola on me (in accordance with my multiple offers to sell out to them), you guys will definitely be the second or third to know. My travel agent or finance guy will probably hear first.

This is why I want everyone to know that when offered a chance to sample the first of five new beers in Gordon Biersch's (GB) "big bottle" series, my gut reaction landed somewhere between "eh" and "meh." My history with GB is one of being consistently underwhelmed by their suite of unmistakably German-style beers. Their brews may be thirst quenching and well-executed takes on classical styles, but they've never convinced me that I need to bring a new lager into my life.

The first selection in this series, dubbed an IPB (an acronym for Imperial Pilsnerbrau), is characterized as an intensely hopped, bold Pilsner. It's a description that has all the internal consistency of "a raging Quaker kegger." Pilsners can certainly be hop forward, but intensity is seldom one of their cherished characteristics.

The IPB produces a frothy honeycomb of a head that leaves chunky lacing around the glass. The aroma isn't intense, but it delivers considerable grassy notes with hints of thyme. It tastes like the logical evolution of a pilsner, a straightforward presentation of oily hop flavors balanced by notes of bread and malt, but elevated to a form that captures my interest. The pine and grass flavors take center stage with a bit of lemon in the finish. I don't trot out my vintage 1990s vernacular for just anything, but this pilsner's got game.

Despite anticipating zinging this beer into oblivion, there's no denying that I liked it. That was evident enough when I was compelled to clean the spillage from a messy pour by slurping the overage off the counter like an alcoholic Wet Vac. Any beer that reduces me to such a state is worthy of your consideration, if only to witness what a pilsner is capable of becoming.

Write to ianc@sdcitybeat.com and editor@sdcitybeat.com. Ian blogs at iancheesman.wordpress.com and you can follow him on Twitter @iancheesman.


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