Posted on June 02 2020
Great lager is like a swan dive. There are no somersaults or twists to distract you. Either the fundamentals have been honed and perfected and the time has been taken or it has not, there is nothing to hide behind. The success of great lager lies in what is not wrong as much as what is right and brewers face a mine field of off-flavours that they must navigate their way through. Only the finest examples emerge the process unscathed.
The concept of a clear, pale, bottom fermented beer didn’t exist until the mid 1800’s. That’s when several factors came together and what we know as Pilsner Urquell – or – “original source of Pilsener” was born. The “er” meaning “originating from”. So, Pilsner means “from Pilsen” or correctly, Plzen, an ancient city 60 miles southwest of Prague. Nearly every pale lager you have come across home or abroad traces its roots back to here.
The Apple has fallen far from the tree …
It takes a lot of time and patience to make good lager, typically 3-4 times as long as the mass industrial versions and usually 2-3 times longer than an ale. As the industrial lager industry grew and needed to make more and more, they began making the beer much faster, using cheaper ingredients, replacing malt with inexpensive adjuncts and virtually eliminating any hop character. In turn, they trained the beer drinker in thinking that was what lager was supposed to be.
This isn’t lager in the way it was intended to be.
And now onto something delicious …
We’re on a mission at Brew Republic to bring you the breweries making great lager, in the spirit and craftmanship of their forebearers and to remind everyone that there is a reason this is the most emulated and popular beer style in the world.
This month we present Utopian Brewing from Devon.
We’ve dotted a few of their beers across our subscription packs this month but we’ve included their “British Pilsner” in all of our comrade’s subscription cases. (I know, it’s not from Plzen so technically they should call it Pils instead and leave off the “er”…I could go on forever and you have beer to drink, so I digress.)
The beer pours brilliantly clear from the long lagering process with a beautiful looking head reminiscent of fresh whipped meringue and tight, tiny bubbles from proper conditioning. Floral hops are there to balance out but yet still allow the the sweetness from the malt to come through. Notice it is not cloying, sugary sweet like the industrial lagers but has the sweetness you would associate with fresh, white bread or that mild sweetness you can get from fresh dough. Medium bodied but ending semi-dry to beg the next sip. The beer ends in a pleasant but lasting bitterness.
We hope you enjoy your Utopian lagers and the rest of this month’s case as much as we are.
When you go to pour your Utopian lager, notice no splash…..perfect swan dive.