Germany "Re-IPAtriation," or "How an American comes home from 5 years to evaluate IPAs and American Pils"

Discussion in 'Europe' started by boddhitree, Jul 3, 2013.

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  1. boddhitree

    boddhitree Devotee (482) Apr 13, 2008 Germany

    Howdy from Frankfurt Germany, after a 13 day whirlwind tour of Philadelphia and NYC in June. If figured, a post this important, I mean silly, needs its own own thread.
    My itinerary: 3 days Philly.
    3 days in the Poconos with a family reunion/my parents' 50 wedding anniversary​
    6 days NYC.​
    That doesn't add up to 13, does it? Don't forget, you loose a day basically on the plane ride to Germany.
    Also, I'm going to have to break this thread up into separate posts, due to the character limit BA imposes on each post.

    The main reason I want to post my reviews of beers I drank in the USA was that after spending 5+ years in Germany bemoaning the lack of interesting beer while gaining an ever bigger appreciation of German beer styles, I thought this would be a good time to put my knowledge of beer brewing and experience of drinking in an IPA desert to bear when I drink in the USA. When I went out to a restaurant or pub, my first priority was to drink the best craft beer I hadn't tried yet on their menu, especially if they only offered BMC beers. Second, I wanted to focus on either drinking and comparing IPAs from America, and third, to try as many American craft brewed Pils or other German styles to see if they were up to snuff to the authentic German versions.
    I hope to post a lot of pics in this thread, too.

    Here's a pic of the menu of the Back Bar of Monk's Care in Philly on June 17, 2013.
  2. boddhitree

    boddhitree Devotee (482) Apr 13, 2008 Germany

    To start with, unless stated otherwise, all beers are assumed to be from a tap.​

    Our first night of drinking American beers... was at Monks Cafe in Philly, on June 18, 2013.​

    I post this in another thread that was totally unrelated to this topic, so I will repost it here with some changes. I wrote the original on my iPhone, which meant I was unable to add any formatting. I'm going to rectify this below.​

    First, their listed beers on the Internet don't match the actual menu, so I was disappointed I wasn't able to try my first Pliny. Second, we only tried beers that were on the on tap menu. Third, the food was good. Inhad a huge, juicy burger, the homemade fried were delicious but way too much, and my g/f had the Ceasars Salad, mummbling something about a diet. Our table neighbors had 2 buckets of mussels, and the aroma was enticing, but i wanted meat from a mammal.​

    Beer #1: They did have Russian River's Blind Pig. I ordered that for the g/f and for me, the Port Wipe Out. The BP was great, needed more malt backbone IMO, but wow. The PWO was maltier but not as citrusy, more bitterness, though. I preferred the PWO, my g/f the PB. The PWO was really, really süffig, for the pint glass was empty within minutes though I was trying to appreciate its complexity.​

    Next #2, I thought I'd give my first US Pils a try. They had Soudt's Pilsner, and I was disappointed. I thought it was hoppy enough with Noble hops but the mouthfeel was not nearly up to par with even an Oettinger. It was "weak" and thin. The Pils malts also lacked something. I didn't take notes, so this is the morning after. Basically, a weak imitation of a German Pils.​

    Now #3, another IPA: Boneyard Nefarious. At 10.5%, it wasn't noticeable and hid it well, though it killed my sobriety. It was hugely citrusy but not super bitter.​

    Finally #4, I wanted a Belgium style. Monk's Cafe Flemish Sour Ale was WOW. They say it was brewed for them outside Ghent; it was super lovely malty, tasted like lots Special B. hops were light in the background. The foam head's creaminess was almost eternal. It stayed tight through almost to the end of the glass. It tasted like Kriek (cherry), but not overly sweet. I detected virtually no sourness, neithr lactic nor acetic, as advertised on the menu. But it was still there slightly maybe, probably held back the malt and fruit sweetness from being overpowering. This was my favorite beer of the night. It was the perfect dessert, though it wasn't a dessert beer.​

    All 3 IPAs were great, though each had their strengths, I still couldn't get over the fact that my super-whirl pooled Axis and Allies IPA is hands down better. In the commercial IPAs, I miss the honey malt notes of the Abbey malt and Münchner malt's caramel. The hops add such complex fruitiness that I get so many different answers to which fruit flavor they detect. I've gotten people insisting they taste strawberry, pear, marakuja, grapefruit, and more.​
  3. Gutes_Bier

    Gutes_Bier Disciple (389) Jul 31, 2011 Germany

    Congrats to your parents! I'm going to let you finish the posting before I reply in full.
  4. boddhitree

    boddhitree Devotee (482) Apr 13, 2008 Germany

    2nd day. Drunk in Eulogy Belgian Tavern, Philly, PA, June 19, 2013:

    #5 - Uinta Brewing's Dubhe Imperial Black IPA (bottle): Licorice,caramel malts, citrusy, almost sweet flavors with hoppy bitterness up front. Love it! WOW.

    #6 - Avery Brewing's Springhouse Planet Bean: Bean aroma, coffee, nice but a little too thin. No pic b/c it was on tap.

    #7 - Avery Brewing's India Pale Ale (bottle): ??? Lost my notes on this one. All I remember was being disappointed

    #8 - Victory Hop Devil (bottle): I'd had this one before and it didn't disappoint. WOW. Lovely fruity aromas and flavors with warm maltiness and just the right thickness and mouthfeel.

    Drunk in Khyber Pass Pub, Philly, PA, June 19, 2013:

    #9 - Dark Horse Black Bier (on Cask): Basically tasted EXACTLY like the description in the beer menu: "Jet black brew is bursting with the flavors of dry roasted malts with delicious hints of chocolate and coffee beans." WOW…! not much else I can say.
    spartan1979 and JackHorzempa like this.
  5. boddhitree

    boddhitree Devotee (482) Apr 13, 2008 Germany

    Drunk on June 20, 2013 at City Tap House in Philadelphia.

    This place was suggested by Jack Horzempa. I'll repeat this from a previous thread: he's a VERY generous, nice, friendly guy and a good conversationalist as he even got my 13 year old daughter involved in our conversation. He gave me a few American versions of Pils/Helles to take home with me as well as 5 or 6 of his home-brew, all of which I'll do my best to give my report and opinions on.

    We drank all beers that were on tap, so only 2 or 3 pics here.

    #10 - Tröeg's Dreamweaver (Hefeweizen): very citrusy, up front, pils and wheat malts and luckily little

    #11 - Ommegang's Fleur de Houbloun (Pale Ale): very thick! I liked it a lot, with cheery, orange-marmalade flavors with some hop bitterness mixed in. A ¡WOW! beer if I remember correctly.

    #12 - Yards Brawler (English Bitter): maple flavors, lightly sour aftertaste, bitter citrus notes, malty, thick feel &
    nice orange and spicy aroma. Almost WOW.​

    #14 - Avery 3point5 IPA: very bitter & hoppy! Not too thin and some citrus… loved it. Especially at only 3.5%
    You'd expect a beer this low in alcohol to be thin or weak in flavor. The opposite was true. It's a ¡WOW! beer.​

    #15 - Carton Brewing's Boat Beer (APA with Kölsch yeast & German malts & American hops): light yellow,
    thin, very bitter, almost no malts, not very good.​

    #16 - Victory Storm King (Imperial Stout): malty, lost of bitterness up front, great porter flavors, hides the
    9.1% very well. Excellent beer.​

    #17 - Victory Scarlet Fire (Rauchbier): could be a Schenkerla clone, but almost too much bacon/rauch malt that

    #18 - Victory St. Victorious (Doppelbock): lots of smoke, sweet but not enough to balance the beer out.

    #19 - Uinta Brewing's Tilted Smile (Imperial Pilsner): almost no aroma, very alchy- hot alcohol (9%), cloyingly malty, disappointing. This beer might be better with age. It's too young to drink now.

    Though we didn't order a Stoudt's here, I liked the pint glass, and here's a pic of it.
  6. boddhitree

    boddhitree Devotee (482) Apr 13, 2008 Germany

    The next few beers are ones that Jack gave me to try. You notice almost all of them are German styles?

    I tried them all while sitting poolside in a crappy resort in the Poconos, drinking and sweating with my relatives, most of whom drank this crap beer: (#20) Landshark Lager by Margaritaville Brewing, from St. Louis, MO… sounds like a front for Bud. Yes, I tried it out of curiosity, just to see what it tasted like. They said it was just like Corona. Actually, it was similar to Corona in lightness and aroma, but much much weaker in flavor with much less malts or hop flavor present.
    First, I love the new Sly Fox aluminum cans with the wide mouth, where basically the whole top of the can is pulled off. This makes the can into a "cup," allowing you to drink directly from the can while still getting a large part of the aroma. I was already a fan of aluminum cans for craft beers, as it keeps the aroma hops fresher than a bottled beer.

    #21 - Sly Fox Pikeland Pils (can): virtually no aroma, decent bitterness up front, doesn't taste like any Pils malts were used, not much Pils malt sweetness, needs maltier aftertaste. Decent thickness but could be thicker. VERY disappointing.

    #22 - Sly Fox Helles (can): malty aroma, some noble hops. This could be a German-brewed beer, but it's too thin for that. it has a sweet Pils malt aftertaste, and bitterness up front of Tettnanger, but if it were sold in Germany, it'd be on par with Oettinger, and that's not good.

    #23 - Ithaca Beer Co's Flower Power IPA (bottle): nice citrus aroma with some weak orange hints & bitter hops. Flavor is very bitter, not much citrus flavor. Amarillo hops on label. Adequate thickness, but at 4 months old, maybe past its prime? Good aroma, but flavor doesn't come close to matching it. Disappointing.

    #24 - Tröegs Brothers' Sunshine Pils (can): virtually no aroma, maybe some Pils malt smell. Flavor is closest to a good Pils in Germany of all the one's I've tried. Pils malts are well present in flavor, giving it some sweet, Pils malt but not overpowering. Slightly dry… not digging that… yet very good flavor, close to a Jever, but lacking the aroma that should correspond with the taste.

    #25 - Deschutes Brewery's Chainbreaker IPA: I can't find my notes about this beer, but I remember thinking it was had only minimum hoppy/citrusy flavors but it did have the pepperiness and spiciness of a Wit. Overall, it was thin and a little disappointing.

    The next 2 beers I drank in a restaurant in the resort. These were the only 2 craft beers worth drinking that evening.

    #26 - Long Trail IPA (bottle): really thin, not much malt flavors, actually very "light"in flavors. Not even much citrusy or other C hops seem present. Really boring.

    #27 - Victory Golden Monkey (Trippel) (bottle): Honey aroma and flavors. Taste evidence of Abbey or Special B malts, with well-defined spices, yet not overdone. Also some bitterness up front, enough to tell it's American. Hides the alcohol well. WOW!!!

    That's enough for today. I'll post the beers of NYC tomorrow.
  7. Gutes_Bier

    Gutes_Bier Disciple (389) Jul 31, 2011 Germany

    Thanks for that awesome (Part I) report. I look forward to the NYC report.

    Sorry to hear so many of the American beers were a let down. Not one but two beers that fail to live up(?) to Oettinger's standard?! As you say, that's no compliment. I'm very interested in seeing what I think of American attempts at German styles when I eventually go back.

    I have had Pliny and Port Wipe Out while living out West. Pliny was just amazing and really got me "into" IPA's and the big hopped beers. If I couldn't find Pliny, a Port Wipeout or Green Flash West Coast IPA would always do nicely. God, those were the days. I've never had Blind Pig, though, at least not that I remember.

    Also, holy hell that's a lot of beer for three days. Nice work.
    boddhitree likes this.
  8. boddhitree

    boddhitree Devotee (482) Apr 13, 2008 Germany

    First, I forgot to count one of the beers, Port Wipe Out, which should've been #2, so I'll add one more to this posting.
    2nd, I wasn't able to go to any of the "beer-centric" pubs suggested by Jack or others. My g/f said Philly was the Beer Tour, and now in NYC, she got to say where we ate/drank. Nonetheless, I managed to find some beers to drink, some craft, some…er… you'll see.

    Drunk on a boat that toured the NYC harbor

    #29 - Brooklyn Brewery's Pre-Prohibition Style Brooklyn Lager (bottle): Wonderfully süffig, but light on Pils malts, which were only evident after warming it up. I can't remember if there were much malts, but it went down great on a hot and sunny day. [I had hoped to visit their brewery, but alas… 6 days are not enough time with a g/f who had a list of things a mile long to do in NYC before we even arrived.]

    #30 - Fire Island Beer Co. Red Wagon IPA (bottle): good IPA, nice aroma and flavor, but needed to warm up before any these were evident. Otherwise, average IPA.

    Drunk in Ward III bar on Reade St. and W. Broadway in Chelsea, NYC on June 24, 2013:

    #31 - DFH 90 min IPA (on tap): Very fruity taste strawberry, marakuja, some bitterness up front, malts are simple, a little caramel. Mostly hops from whirlpool. This is a WOW! beer that I'd always wanted to try, and I'm so glad I have.

    Drunk in some irish Pub near Times Square on June 27, 2013:
    #32 - Goose Island IPA (on tap): not bad,… I liked the aroma, flavor, but it was getting into territory of ABI (Another Bloody IPA), where I thought it didn't taste much different from any other IPA, which is a good thing if it's the only IPA in a touristy Irish Pub, but bad if it had much competition.

    Drunk at Organika restaurant on 7th Ave, NYC on June 28, 2013:

    #33 - Peak Organic Brewing's IPA (bottle): LOTS of bitterness up front. Some but not much citrus or or other flavors. More caramel malts present.

    #34 - Peak Organic Brewing's Hop Noir (bottle): Good chocolate notes, roasted coffee, hoppy bitterness with burnt aftertaste. Can taste lots of bitter up front.

    #35 - Peak Organic Brewing's Summer Session Saisson (bottle): A decent bitterness up front, citrus flavors but not from hops. A very light sour hint only. Predominated by pils or lite pale malts, though. Mild flavors, VERY refreshing, tart aftertaste.

    Drunk in The Grisly Pear bar on Greenwich Village, MacDougal Street on June 29, 2013. Newcastle bombshell (bottle): grassy, musty horse blanket taste, very little malt taste

    #36 - Smuttynose IPA (on tap): Quite bitter. Some citrus hops, some caramel malts. Mostly bitterness but almost balanced, but not quite.

    Drunk at Okeanos Greek restaurant and bar in Brooklyn. We went there to get out of the heat and use their free wifi, and we had to buy something. Unfortunately, this is all they had that I hadn't tried before:

    #37 - Mythology Lager- Original Greek Lager beer (from Greece) (bottle): tastes like corona but bitterer and a tad more pils malt.

    #38 - Keo (from Cyprus) (bottle): some bitterness up front but barely noticeable. Very pils malty sweet, almost too much, not balanced enough.

    Unfortunately, this was my last beer on American soil, but it couldn't be helped. There are more beers to be reported on, though, so look again tomorrow.
    spartan1979 and Gutes_Bier like this.
  9. WhatANicePub

    WhatANicePub Initiate (181) Jul 1, 2009 United Kingdom (Scotland)

    Interesting you mention Sly Fox Pikeland Pils. I had the chance to taste it a couple of weeks ago and I thought it was lacking in hop aroma too. Hop flavour was decent, bitterness was good but a little coarse, good hop finish, but sadly the whole thing was spoilt by intrusive creamed corn aroma. A German brewer would probably assume the apprentice had brewed that batch.
    boddhitree likes this.
  10. boddhitree

    boddhitree Devotee (482) Apr 13, 2008 Germany

    Thank you! I drank them and noted their flavor/aroma with y'all in mind.
    I'm not that disappointed, for I never expected many American beers to reach the high standard that German beers have in Germany. I think I drank a total of 1, maybe 2, American brewed Pils that would hold a candle to some of the best Bayern beers. Again, I think Americans really need to compare their Lagers or Pils not with what they can get in the USA, especially if it's Bitburger, etc, but with small "craft" brewers from Bayern.

    Glad I could bring back such good memories for you.
    I think you misunderstood the timeline. The beers I drank in the Poconos were over a 3 day weekend… after the first 3 days in Philly. I drank a bunch more there with my cousin, who's coincidently been on BA balosss since 2003, that I didn't take notes and have a vague memory of, but I have pics, so I'll do my best to report on them later.[/quote]
    Gutes_Bier likes this.
  11. danfue

    danfue Initiate (0) Sep 16, 2012 Germany

    Is this the same as the Mythos Hellenic Lager that is sold in Europe?
  12. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (2,933) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania

    Permit me to provide an alternative opinion. I will be Dan Aykroyd and I will let Tony be Jane Curtin!:wink:

    Pikeland Pils is much better on draft than it is in the can. I have no explanation for this but it is for some reason. Having stated that it is a good beer in the can. That beer has something like 44 IBUs and is solely brewed with German Pilsner malt. I agree that the hop aroma on that beer is ‘subdued’ but it has substantial hop flavor and bitterness. It is brewed in the Northern German Pilsner style (as stated on the can). I have never tasted Oettinger so I am unable to provide a comparative analysis but I highly doubt that it matches up to Pikeland Pils on a hop flavor/bitterness perspective. Does Oettinger have 44 IBUs? I personally do not perceive “creamed corn” in that beer and I would never state: “doesn't taste like any Pils malts were used”. As I stated previously, this beer is brewed 100% with German Pilsner malt and I personally perceive the Pilsner Malt in that beer.

    You can read this thread about draft vs. can here:

    I will provide a more extensive review of Sunshine Pils in a follow-up post but for now:

    Tony: “virtually no aroma, maybe some Pils malt smell”

    Jack: A noticeable Pilsner malt aroma.

    Tony: “Pils malts are well present in flavor, giving it some sweet, Pils malt but not overpowering,”

    Jack: I mostly agree with the above but I would state: substantial Pilsner malt flavor accompanied by lots of hop flavor.

    Tony: “Slightly dry… not digging that… yet very good flavor, close to a Jever”

    Jack: This beer is dry similar to Jever (my favorite German brewed Pilsner). I am digging it BIG TIME!

    As I state often on various threads: everybody has a differing palates and differing expectations in what they want in a beer.

    Viva la difference!

  13. Gutes_Bier

    Gutes_Bier Disciple (389) Jul 31, 2011 Germany

    Jack, I look forward to your trashing of the Rothaus. :stuck_out_tongue:
  14. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (2,933) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania

    “ …trashing of the Rothaus.” I really hope not. I have high hopes for this beer!

    I really enjoy drinking German brewed Pilsners when I can get them fresh.

    I have purchased many cases and six-packs of Jever since they date their beers with a best by date; I make sure that those beers are less than 5 months (or so) old when I buy them.

    I also order Weihenstephan Pils whenever I find it on draft (I assume the keg is fresh).


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  15. drtth

    drtth Poo-Bah (3,003) Nov 25, 2007 Pennsylvania

    Would any Pils on tap show well as the second of two beers when the first of the two was a C hopped IPA (e.g. Blind Pig) on tap?
    steveh likes this.
  16. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (2,933) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania

    That was already discusses in another thread:

    Just so I am clear on this matter, I agree with you 100%. If I go to a bar with the idea of ‘sampling’ various beers I personally go from the lightest flavored beer to the heaviest flavored beer. For instance, if I wanted to try the following beers: Kolsch, Pilsner, IPA I would start with the Kolsch then Pilsner and finish with the IPA. I would never start with an IPA if I intended to ‘evaluate’ other beer styles but that is just me.

  17. drtth

    drtth Poo-Bah (3,003) Nov 25, 2007 Pennsylvania

    Your tasting order is also the order I would choose so its not just you. Its me as well. Also having just looked at the discussion in the thread link you provided I would suggest that a spicy sauce is not a palate cleanser. Rather it is a palate changer and another source of palate fatigue.
  18. Stahlsturm

    Stahlsturm Initiate (0) Mar 21, 2005 Germany

    I was wondering the same thing. Likely it is.
  19. Stahlsturm

    Stahlsturm Initiate (0) Mar 21, 2005 Germany

    Amen Tony :slight_smile:
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  20. Gutes_Bier

    Gutes_Bier Disciple (389) Jul 31, 2011 Germany

    Ha, that is why I should not post late at night. Carry on, nothing to see here....

    I'm glad you were able to get to the Kyber as well as Eulogy and Monk's. Hope you had a good time in Philly.
  21. steveh

    steveh Poo-Bah (1,884) Oct 8, 2003 Illinois

    There just aren't that many micro-breweries taking the time to brew lagers in a precise manner using the better ingredients and time-consuming methods that will make a great lager.

    On the other hand, there are a few that do and I've been lucky to try those.
  22. boddhitree

    boddhitree Devotee (482) Apr 13, 2008 Germany

    …to continue the reportagé.

    We spent a day visiting my cousin and his g/f, who live in Southampton, NY. Taking the train in and out of NYC was nice, and it gave us a couple hours to visit a brewer about whom I'd heard a decent amount of good press: Southampton Publick House. I was not disappointed in the beers.
    The pic below gives a good reason why.

    A wonderful collection of awards, though they've not done anything since 2004, I had to try a couple on that list.
    Here's the menu of the day, which was June 26, 2013.

    (All on tap)

    #39 - Keller Pils: Decent bitterness up front with Noble hops, nice amount of Pils malt flavor with a nice sweet malt aftertaste. Very süffig! I think…wait…yes.. it's the best Pils in the USA for this trip. Not as good as the best Pils I ever had from Kneitinger's Pils, but it can stand as an equal to Rothaus Tannenzäpfle Pils easily. To call it a Keller implies it's both unfiltered and maybe still contains live yeast. Unfortunately, there was no evidence of cloudiness or live yeast wither in aroma,flavor or in the pint glass. Nonetheless, I really shouldn't hold them up to "German" standards when it comes to nomenclature, should I? Still… WOW!

    #40 - Burton IPA: Lots of malts, some citrusy flavors. Mostly caramel malt flavor, but also subtle honey, too. The bartender said it was based on Burtonizing the water. Lovely beer. WOW.

    #41 - Secret Ale: This won Silver at the World Beer Cup, and I can see why. Lots of caramel, Münchner malts, a decent amount of bitterness up. Very complex flavors, and if I'd had a few more days, I'd really need a few more of these to really figure out its flavors. WOW!!!

    #42 - Big Brown: Kind of disappointing, or just too subtle for me to taste it now. Quite malty in back. It has malt flavors, but it's missing something, for it tastes almost like an unfermented Malzbier. It's really disappointing after the last 3 beers which made me wow-myself.

    Overall, very very impressive. Besides Victory, this is the brewer that impressed me the most.
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  23. boddhitree

    boddhitree Devotee (482) Apr 13, 2008 Germany

    Next up, the beers I drank in the Poconos. Unfortunately, I took no notes on any of these, for it was mostly just hanging out with the family at night, the uncles, the aunts, the cousins, their kids & my folks, in a few rooms of the beat-up resort. These were all provided for me/us my my wonderful cousin, Billy, who goes by balosss here on BA. These comments are solely from memory, which unfortunately was influenced by (then), a lack of sobriety and sleep, and (now) by the time between drinking them and writing it now. Luckily, I took pics of the bottles, which have helped dislodge a vague memory or 2. Don't forget, these will just be "impressions" and not a valid report, so I could be far, far off from what I really tasted mid-June.

    2 beers from Maine Beer Company: #43 - Mo, and #44 - Weez. I don't remember much about them except recall loving the aromas and flavors, the freshness and
    Maine…? Cool.

    Very good beers from Maine, and though there's no pic, I think I also drank their #45 - Zoe. They were all

    WOW beers, I think.
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  24. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (2,933) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania

    For those wondering: Southampton Keller Pils is indeed an unfiltered beer. This year’s version was brewed at Susquehanna Brewing Company (SBC) in Pittston, PA.

    I think that SBC did a nice job brewing this beer but I preferred past year’s version (brewed at other contract breweries) better. Below is a write-up I made in a recent conversation with BeerIsland:

    What it states on the bottle label: “Keller Pils is an unfiltered lager featuring a single variety of hop throughout the brewing process.”

    First, a bit of history. I have been drinking Keller Pils since 2010 (the first time it was made, I believe).

    · 2010 Keller Pils: a straw colored beer that was very hoppy (which hop?). I found this beer to essentially be an unfiltered, hoppy Pilsner. This was my personal favorite version of Keller Pils but I should caveat that I am partial to hoppy Pilsners (e.g., I really like Troegs Sunshine Pils, Sly Fox Pikeland Pils, Victory Prima Pils, etc.).

    · 2011 Keller Pils: amber colored with a very noticeable malt backbone. More lightly hopped than the 2010 version (which hop?). I considered this beer to be a Franconian Kellerbier. I liked this beer but liked the 2010 version better.

    · 2012 Keller Pils: golden colored with an excellent balance of hops (which hop?) and malt. This is the ‘perfect’ Keller Pils from a balance perspective but I preferred the unbalanced 2010 version.

    · 2013: golden colored beer. This beer is brewed in a very ‘clean’ fashion with no off flavors; having stated that this beer seems to lack character. I enjoyed drinking this beer but I was continually thinking: shouldn’t there be a bit more hops and/or a bit more malt backbone? I think that SBC did a fine job but I ‘wonder’ about the recipe. I think this is the first Keller Pils brewed without Phil Markowski supervising the beer (recipe). As for the above 3 beers: which hop is used for this beer?

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  25. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (2,933) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania

    Tony, I had MO yesterday (on draft) for the for the first time. I thought it was a very tasty APA!


    P.S. I had the MO after drinking a Hill Farmstead Edward (the best APA IMHO) so it had a tough act to follow.
    boddhitree likes this.
  26. boddhitree

    boddhitree Devotee (482) Apr 13, 2008 Germany

    More beers I drank at night with family provided by my cousin, Billy, the balosss, who lives near Phllly, yet another cousin, one of 8, not the one in Southampton.

    2 from Lawson's Finest Liquids, #46 - Double Sunshine IPA. I only remember really digging this beer, but I can't remember why. Maybe a WOW IPA, but I really need to drink it again to jog the grey matter.

    The 2nd was #47 - Chinooker'd IPA. I definitely remember this being a WOW beer, but why… lost memories are returning… wait, yes, I remember the aroma and taste of the German malts being wonderfully mixed with the fresh Chinook hoppy citrus flavors. I remember both of these were quite impressive and tasty, and süffig.

    #48 - Southern Tier Brewing Co.'s Imperial Choklat Stout. Again, vague memories, but I do remember commenting to each other it was like drink liquid Hersey Kisses, which is a really, really good thing. I wish I'd taken notes, but again, this was a WOW!!! beer.

    This was followed up with the wildest beer I may've ever had: #49 - Rogue's Voodoo Doughnut, Chocolate, Peanut Butter and Banana Beer. We all agreed it was drinking a banana split but with beer delicious beer mixed in and alcohol. It was a WOW! beer too. The flavor was almost too much for one person, so it was good that we could divvy it up amongst the family in small plastic Solo cups. Also, I LOVE the packaging.

    The final beer I took a pic of, and hence remember, was maybe one of the the best, maybe top 3, beers of my entire 13 day trip to Ami-land. It's #50 - (yes, #50!) Captain Lawrence Brewing Co.'s Rosso e Marrone.
    I wish I had more memories of this beer, but I do remember going WOW WOW WOW. Brewed with grapes, oak-barrel-aged for a year, it wish I could remember more than it being simply wonderful.

    There were more beers but either i didn't get around to taking pics of the bottles or simply I don't remember them at all those 2 evenings with family, but oh well, the fog of time. Maybe in the future my cousin can help me out with these.
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  27. hopfenunmaltz

    hopfenunmaltz Meyvn (1,263) Jun 8, 2005 Michigan

    Was at Monks on June 25th and had the Boneyard IIPA, then 2 RR Damnations with dinner. Can't remember the last one.

    There are so many good beer spots in that city. Had Pliny at Good Dog Bar. House beers at Nodding Head. Some Stone at Bru, and a quick chat with Mitch Steele. On day the wife and I walked down to Brauhaus Schmidt and I had a wonderful German Pilsner from a brewery I had never heard of down in Southern Bavaria, then followed by .2L of Fruh Koelsch.

    I also got to meet Jack Horzempa and talk about beer several times.

    This was at the 2013 National Homebrewers Conference. There was no shortage of beer in the Conference.
  28. boddhitree

    boddhitree Devotee (482) Apr 13, 2008 Germany

    This is the final post of this thread that introduces beer I drank in late June in PA/NY.

    The final set is a 6-pack of Jack's home-brews that he laid on me to try. Now, I was happy to drink them, but considering I had to schlepp them first from Philly to NYC, then find time at hotel to lay them on ice AND drink them (can't drink in parks or in public, like in Germany), well, that's a considerable burden to place on a traveling man. Nonetheless, I manned up and did my duty to finish them all before I returned to Germany. I had a heavy enough suitcase, one filled to the brim with a 6-pack of canned Two Brothers Brewing's Sidekick and one can of Oskar Blues' Deviant Dale's IPA, and numerous other things like 2 new pair of jeans, a hoodie from the 9-11 Memorial, 4 books on beer, and various other things we'd bought to take home. So… I was put under time pressure: 6 home-brews in 6 days, plus all the other beers I was drinking outside the hotel room; it's a heavy burden, but somehow successfully completed the task. Since I drank all of them late evenings after a hard, sweaty day of being a tourist in NYC, I was too exhausted mentally and physically to take notes. However, Jack was kind enough (or neurotic enough :wink:) to warn/help me by writing up his own description of his beers. While drinking them, I agreed with almost all of what he said, so, with his permission, I'll paste that in this post. I was only moved, or maybe, I only was able to move, to write about 2 of his 6 beers. Anyway, I'll give my comments in italics, either from memory or notes.
    These made beers #51 - 56.

    Very good! Though I somehow didn't get the either grassy or slightly lemony flavors I get when aggressively hopped with Saaz from some German versions of this style. It was, nonetheless, frighteningly süffig, by which I mean it was too easy to drink it quickly and not even taste it. I bet it would taste even better using Saaz or Smaragd hops as aroma hops, too, which is where the light lemony flavors come from. Maybe also a tad too thin for an authentic Bo-Pils. A little kick of Dextrin addition late in the boil might fix that.

    Not my fav. style, but still good nonetheless.

    From notes: A huge, creamy head that just won't go down… love that! Wonderful thick mouthfeel, decent sour and bitter notes up front, a refreshing summer beer! Good balance on the malts, with an aftertaste that leaves not only a little citrus, but also a small sour flavor that lingers and refreshes. Could be sold in Köln as a Reissdorf or Gaffel Kölsch, though it didn't match my favorite, Mühlen Kölsch, which is breadier and maltier.

    Tasted exactly how a Dubbel should. Wonderful.

    Never having had Bell's Two Hearted, I have no comparison. From notes: ETERNAL FOAM!! Love it. Bitter hop and caramel aroma, sweet-caramel flavors in the back and aftertaste. Overall, lots of bitterness, but not as citrusy as I would've liked. Nonetheless, a hop bomb that was süffig!

    No notes, but I liked it… a lot… just don't remember what it tasted like exactly.

    So, thank you Jack for letting me try your home-brew. It was a hard task, but completed on time.
    Gutes_Bier likes this.
  29. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (2,933) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania

    Tony, I am glad that you enjoyed the beers and had a great vacation.

    I know I still have not completed my assignment of evaluating the Rothaus Tannenzäpfle but I will. I have about ‘dried out’ from the NHC last weekend so I am almost starting to hear the Rothaus call my name: Jack trinken mich!

    boddhitree and Gutes_Bier like this.
  30. steveh

    steveh Poo-Bah (1,884) Oct 8, 2003 Illinois

    To wit: I am lucky enough to be drinking this right now, New Glarus Edel Pils, because I'm fortunate enough to live close to Wisconsin* and can easily procure the brand when I have the itch.

    While they may not have keyed in the hopping rates just right for a Pilsner (of any origin), they've taken the time and care to mash the malts and cold lager in just the right symphony to make a great German-style Lager; bready, just the right sweetness from barley and balance of spicy hops. More Helles than Pils, but head & shoulders above most American brewed lagers.

    But I think the key to a beer like this is freshness -- and, once again, I'm very fortunate to have this brewery so close in proximity.

    *They only sell their product in their home state. And look up pictures of their new brewery, it's worthy of Bavarian scenery.**


    ***Great interview with owner/brewmaster Dan Carey.
    boddhitree, danfue and Gutes_Bier like this.
  31. Chinon01

    Chinon01 Initiate (0) Jan 23, 2007 Pennsylvania

    First off, let me thank you for your Teutonic thoroughness; very impressive.
    A couple of the American pilsners you had are among my favorites including Sly Fox Pikeland Pils and Stoudt’s pilsner. I drink Pikeland regularly along w/ Victory pilsners. I love them all and consider them good pilsner beers BUT they are different from the German pilsners I know well including Berliner, Paulaner, Jever, Pinkus, Stiegl (Austria), Radeberger and Bitburger. Seems the malt sweetness in many of the German pilsners is missing in the American styles while I find the noble hop character is expressed more obviously in American pilsners particularly Victory pilsners.
    Anyway very interesting assessment. Fun to hear what someone from an utterly different beer culture thinks of our beer in the states.
    boddhitree likes this.
  32. steveh

    steveh Poo-Bah (1,884) Oct 8, 2003 Illinois

    This is the same way I taste most American craft Pilsners as well, and I think it honestly has to do with process; not taking the tame to mash properly and even lager long enough.

    I was surprised to see that the above-mentioned Edel Pils uses only American malt, and Wisconsin malt at that. But the malt character is very close in its breadiness and sweetness to German beers I've tasted fresh. Brings us back to how the beer is brewed.
    boddhitree likes this.
  33. boddhitree

    boddhitree Devotee (482) Apr 13, 2008 Germany

    Thank you for thanking me. I appreciate it when others appreciate the time and effort I put into prepping and writing the posts.

    The German styles I had from Sly Fox and Stout were very disappointing, I thought. I've said it here before, but I'm NOT usually a fan of Pils. Nonetheless, from the past years of researching/tasting and writing about the different Pils I've come across in Germany, I've grown to really enjoy a good, superbly crafted Pils, especially from Bayern or other small and Mittelstand brewers in Germany. So when I went to the USA, after hearing folks such as Jack Horzempa and occasionally Scott Herrburgess lauding the American versions of Pils, I knew I needed to try the craft versions as comparisons.

    Unfortunately, except for 2 (Tröegs Brothers' Sunshine Pils & Southampton's Keller Pils), I was underwhelmed. Basically, I just don't think American craft brewers in general get how to make German styles. I think this is due to 3 factors.
    1. Making a great Pils of Helles might require a sensitivity that's simply too subtle and require an understanding that only comes from trying some of the best and worst here in Germany. I don't most Americans have the time or patience for this.
    2. American brewers may not be using the same mashing techniques as German brewers. One of the things Jack H. and disagreed on was my insistence on most beer styles having a thick, round, "hearty" mouthfeel. This goes especially for a Pils, for a thin Pils means shortcuts in the craft of mashing. To get this thicker mouthfeel, you need more unfermentables such as proteins, which you get when you do a decent protein rest when mashing. The same goes with getting the sweet, caramel or Pils flavors from the malt. Both of these tell me there's a lack of attention to detail that Germans are notorious for. I agree with Steve H. that this may be one culprit, and also that they don't lager long enough to get best out of this style.
    3. Even when they use "German malts," this doesn't tell me they're using the best or the proper ones.
    Otherwise, I'm stumped as why Americans can't make great Pils or Helles. I don't think this applies to Weizen styles in America. Also, what I'm talking about above is simply imitations of German styles. I wish American brewers would take the style and let their creativity run wild. Maybe that'll happen in the future.

    I had planned on writing a summation post, where I had my overall conclusions, so this might as well be it. The above opinions of why Americans haven't had an easy time making Pils is one I wanted to make.
    • Basically, I have to finally give Scott Herrburgess his due… Scott has been dead on correct. The best Pils are found in Germany, though maybe I just didn't get around to trying the best America has. When I went to the USA, my goal was to compare what was going on in America with panoply of German Pils, from some of the worst, such as Turmbräu, Oettinger, and Padeborner, et. al, which are be the equivalent of Keystone, et. al, to the exceedingly boringly mediocre, such as Bitburger, Radeburger, Warsteiner, and other mass produced crud that're the equivalent of BMC beers. Most of the German beers you get in America are in my book duds. Sure, there are the occasional good ones, and I don't buy the argument that the German beer imported isn't fresh enough to compare, but if one wants to know what real Pils or Helles tastes like in its natural environment, you gotta come to Germany to get it from small and independent brewers.
    • My other goal while traveling in the USA was to really taste the best of IPAs America I could lay my paws on. Mission accomplished. I agree with Pax Bräu's owner/brewer, Andreas Seufert, in the concept of ABI ("just Another Bloody IPA.) I had more than 1 of those, yet a few others I tasted were transcendent. I'm starting to believe that only in the USA can you truly understand how intense an experience an outstanding IPA (e.g. Victory Hop Devil, Port's Wipe Out and Russian River Blind Pig, at least, those from what I tried) can be. My g/f & I drank an IPA every chance we got, and I still didn't get enough. Nonetheless, I still didn't drink an IPA that was as good as my own Axis & Allies IPA home-brew. I still had to compare the beers I drank in the USA to that one beer, and all were still lacking. What I missed from A&A IPA was the stong honey/caramel flavors from using Belgian and German malts, as well as using a Bristish yeast that accentuated to fruitiness of the American hops.
    So… after all was done, and I'm back in Germany, what's the end result? Guess what, I'm going to order more really good Pils from Bayern to compare them, and I plan on brewing some IPAs with more experimental malts, like Rauchmalz or more German (Wienermalz and Münchnermalz) to push the boundaries to get flavors I couldn't find in the USA.
    Again, thanks y'all for reading. Cheers, Tony.
    herrburgess and Gutes_Bier like this.
  34. Chinon01

    Chinon01 Initiate (0) Jan 23, 2007 Pennsylvania

    Wow thanks again. I've been to Berlin twice on vacation since 2011 and had the pleasure to visit a small brewpub named Brewbaker who brew some Anglo-American styles. I found their pale ale to be basically exactly how a German would brew a pale ale. It was somewhat cloudy w/ a huge meringue like head, very fruity and clean w/ restrained hops; something our American pale ales really don't display. I loved it. Me and the wife had many.
    We will get to the south one of these days for real German beer though.;]
    herrburgess and boddhitree like this.
  35. steveh

    steveh Poo-Bah (1,884) Oct 8, 2003 Illinois

    I agree with you on the Weizen (and by Weizen, I mean Bavarian Weizen -- not the usually bland stuff being passed of as "American Wheat"). Sierra Nevada, for one, is now producing a terrific take on the Bavarian Weizen, as are a few smaller breweries in the Midwest -- including New Glarus mentioned above. Their Dancing Man Wheat is just terrific.

    With Weizen being more estery and spicy from the yeast, I think that brewers can hit a certain character quality much easier than a smooth, subtle lager. Hell, I even won 2d place with my first home-brewed Weizen years ago.

    Lager yeast is just very unforgiving to mistakes and shortcuts.
  36. herrburgess

    herrburgess Meyvn (1,010) Nov 4, 2009 South Carolina
    Industry Beer Trader

    I, too, thank you for your report, Tony. Very thorough and informative. And really I'm not surprised at the conclusions you reached -- not because I feel somehow vindicated after all my ranting, but rather because I think that there is a very real disconnect at work when it comes to U.S. "craft" and traditional German lager brewing. Matter of fact, my recent silence around here is due in no small part to my immersing myself in some fairly serious recipe and process formulation, which has led me to looking into things like top cropping of Krausen, ideal Hoch-Kurz decoction mashing schedules, Spundapparate on the primary fermenter/new conical, etc., etc. In short, there is a TON of process work, specialized equipment, science, and, yes, ingredient selection/terroir (Bier brauch Heimat) that goes into achieving that authentic German lager character. I feel like I am just beginning to truly understand most of it. And honestly I have only found two U.S. breweries that really do it right at all levels: Olde Mecklenburg and New Glarus (even so, Olde Meck has had a few recent misses IMO). From the looks of things, Prost in Denver is doing all of these things, too, but again they are the rare exception. Personally, I have no problem with the notion that if I want to experience authentic German lagers I need to either travel to Germany, find the few diamonds in the rough here, and/or brew my own. Looks like Tony has reached similar conclusions about getting his IPA fix. And, finally, it sounds like Jack has hit on some magic formulas for his beers, too. As far as I'm concerned, we can all stop debating German vs. U.S. craft and, in order to have access to the best of both worlds, instead start trading homebrews. Prost miteinander!
    Groenebeor, steveh and boddhitree like this.
  37. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (2,933) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania

    Tony, I always enjoy reading your posts. Unfortunately you did not have an opportunity to sample other US brewed Pilsners during your short stay in the US.

    My personal favorite US brewed pilsners are available on draft:

    · Victory Braumeister Pils series of beers which feature varying hops: Sladek, Saaz, Hallertauer Mittelfruh, Tettnanger, etc. These beers are available at the Victory Brewpubs (the Brewpub in Downingtown, PA and the Beer Hall in South Philly). Sometimes they available in local beer bars (I get them at TJs Everyday on occasion)

    · Victory CBC Tettnang Pils which showcases Tettnang Tettnanger and Hallertau Tettnanger.hops

    · Sly Fox Standard Pils: “A keller, or unfiltered Pils, hopped exclusively with German Spalt hops.”

    · Sly Fox Keller Pils

    · Neshaminy Creek Trauger Pils

    · Victory Hip Czech Pils: “100% Saaz hops and floor-malted Bohemian pils malts faceoff to pack this all-Czech lager with a flavorful punch you would not expect from a brew with only 4.7% abv. Light and crisp, yet slightly herbal in its hoppiness, this extremely drinkable and delicious brew is sure to light the lamp”

    · And some others

    In correspondence with Tony I expressed regret that I did not provide him a bottle of Victory Prima Pils; hindsight being 20/20 I would have done so.

    As regards the topic of: “One of the things Jack H. and disagreed on was my insistence on most beer styles having a thick, round, "hearty" mouthfeel.” I chalk that up to what I stated previously: everybody has a differing palates and differing expectations in what they want in a beer. Tony permitted me to taste a beer that he was not too pleased with because he perceived that beer to be too thin in body. I didn’t perceive that particular beer to be too thin. Having stated that we did both tasted a beer brewed by Carton (a small brewery from NJ) and we both agreed that this particular beer was too thin in body. I really think that Tony has a very ‘sensitive’ palate to mouthfeel. There is nothing wrong with that, that is part of what makes Tony to be Tony. If I had an increased ‘sensitivity’ to mouthfeel I would probably insist that a beer have a “hearty” mouthfeel in order for it to be a quality beer.

    Now, let’s discuss the beers of Troegs Sunshine Pils and Southampton Keller Pils. It would appear that Tony and I are kindred spirits since we both really like Sunshine Pils? If this was a sole data point then I would likely agree that Tony and I have the same palate & expectations of what constitutes a quality German style Pilsner. But,…. there is the case of Southampton Keller Pils where Tony stated “it's the best Pils in the USA for this trip.” And “Still… WOW!” IMHO, this year’s version of Southampton Keller Pils is a “good” beer (I much preferred previous years versions of this beer: 2010 and 2012). I would not even contemplate putting Southampton Keller Pils in the same category as Troegs Sunshine Pils (needless to say the other US craft brewed pilsners that I listed above). Compared to the Victory draft pilsners and the Sly Fox draft pilsners, Southampton Keller Pils is just an OK beer (to my palate).

    So, we all have our own palates and we use them to relate our beer drinking experiences. It would be unwise to expect that everybody will perceive a given beer the same way we do.

    I respect that Tony is a conscientious beer drinker and he takes the time to assess and express his perceptions on given beers. I truly do enjoy reading how he perceives a particular beer. But, at the end of the day it is just one man’s opinion (granted a conscientious man).

    Tony, keep up the good work!


    P.S. When I got together with Tony (and his girlfriend & daughter) he ordered a Yards Brawler (my favorite Mild Ale when it is served on cask). He took a few sips and uttered “tastes sour” which struck me as a bit odd since I personally have never perceived sour in that beer. He handed the beer to his girlfriend and asked her “does this taste sour to you?”. She took a sip and replied “no”. Tony stated “take another sip”. She took a second sip and replied “it doesn’t taste sour”. I then saw Tony write down “sour” on his sheet of paper. I thought this exchange was ‘interesting’.
    Gutes_Bier likes this.
  38. bergbrew

    bergbrew Initiate (49) Jan 12, 2004 Minnesota

    Pils is quite a broad range, kind of like Kolsch. I don't recall a lot of sweetness in Herren Pils. Maybe it's just me.
    JackHorzempa likes this.
  39. Gutes_Bier

    Gutes_Bier Disciple (389) Jul 31, 2011 Germany

    I like your entire post but wanted to second this in particular. If I disagree with Herr Burgess' opinion (which is not often) I usually assume it's because I am wrong.

    Welcome back Herr B! I officially started to worry about you when there was a Schlenkerla thread in the main forum that you didn't respond to. :grimacing: :wink:
    boddhitree likes this.
  40. drtth

    drtth Poo-Bah (3,003) Nov 25, 2007 Pennsylvania

    I'd like to add my thanks to the rest for a well written, thoughtful report on a short but eventful beer Odyssey.
    boddhitree and Gutes_Bier like this.
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