OK, let's start at the basics. Pilsner (also pilsener or simply pils) is a type of pale lager. It took its name from the city of Pilsen (Plzeň, Bohemia, Czech Republic, where it was first produced in 1842). In my opinion it's a delicious style of beer that doesn't get the respect they deserve. Personally I love them more so during the hot Arkansas summer months, but drink them year-round. It seems lately in this world of big imperial IPAs and super-hopped this-and-thats it's a style that's definitely becoming harder to find. A few of my favorites include Victory Prima Pils, Boulevard KC Pils, Marshall Old Pavillion, Oskar Blues Mama's Little Yella Pils and North Coast Scrimshaw Pils.
Locally a new one made it's way into the market in the last few weeks, and that's Vino's Brewpub's Pulaski Pilsner, a flavorful, golden-yellow, refreshing beer thats a nice representation of the style. I talked to Vino's head brewer for the last 3 years, Josiah Moody, about the beer and thought I'd share some insight. Obviously, this interview is much more enjoyable over a pilsner too, so pour one up and read on.
ArkBeerScene (ABS): So what made you decide to make a pilsner?
Josiah: It's the wrong time of year really as we're sitting here in January of an especially cold Winter this year. It's just that I had been brewing stouts, porters, a swartzbier, which is a dark lager, and an imperial dark IPA. So all of these dark beers and I just said "let's do something classic and refreshing" which is really why a pilsner came out in sort of a weird time of the year. I usually keep that to the Summer.
ABS: Really there aren't a lot of pilsners coming out at all lately.
Josiah: Ya know pilsners are also harder to do, to do true pilsner styles. They require more time to ferment, you can't turn it out as quick, but you're still producing a session beer. So in a lot of ways it doesn't make the most economic sense to do... same price as ales but take twice as long to make. You could make blonde ales or American wheats much faster and they have similar light notes. They won't have the crispness though, a trademark of the pils. And again, as simple as they are, I think they're hard to pull off. It shows your technique in making a clean beer, there's no way to cover mistakes up say with caramel malts or something.
ABS: So was this a new recipe or were you tweaking on some older one? Did you have some other pils in mind as you were coming up with this?
Josiah: I slightly tweaked an older Vino's recipe. Sure though, their style isn't open to loads of interpretation. Pilsner Urquell is the gold standard. I am an unabashed hop head, I just love it, and that's one of the fun things about a good pils, fun to brew, is that you can actually make it really hoppy. You are limited to the style of hop you want to use, that being noble hops, I used Hallertau, so you can still make it hoppy but in a very "European" way, very different than the American pungent hops. They're more refined, earthy and grassy. It's a fun way to slide in that hop fix I have to have.
ABS: OK, let's say it's Super Bowl Sunday and you're not drinking your pilsner, what are the top pilsners you'd have in the fridge?
Josiah: Well, the Reverb Imperial Pilsner from Boulevard, the KC Pils from Boulevard is delicious. Pilsner Urquell is certainly there, I mean how do you overlook that? Hmmm. Man there are not just loads of pilsners to choose from. North Coast Scrimshaw is another great one.
ABS: Last question I have for you, are you going to be making this one again soon as the temps warm up?
Josiah: Oh yea, well I don't have a time frame, I've made myself 5 new brews that I want to do before it gets too crazy in the Summer, but I still want to do the pils again before the Summer.
Vino's Pulaski Pilsner
Malts: Pilsner malts, Vienna for body
Hops: Noble Hops (Hallertau)