I missed the East Coast. The trees, the gentle breezes, the ocean… Zeus Almighty, did I miss the ocean! After a year of dodging tornadoes and running headlong into literally quadirectional winds, that first quaff of salt-laden air erased months of longing. Just in time for summer, I’ve had to bide my time and not load up on every Virginia beer in sight because there’s unfinished business. See, a year ago as I hit Kansas, I put the finishing touches on a plethora of reviews that you may have read in the time since. It was also Virginia Craft Beer Month, and I would have felt especially lonely without the case of goodies I brought with me. Despite all that, this is one beer that for some reason I never could get around to pressing “publish.” Therefore, I made it my very first growler upon my return. Let’s just say it goes quite nice with 85 degrees and 90% humidity.
Shower Beer, Champion Brewing Co. (Charlottesville, VA)
Czech-Style Pilsner, 4.5% ABV, 35 IBU
Presentation: Can pour into tuliped pint glass. And a growler into a pint glass 10 months later, just because.
Appearance: Straw in the shade, mild-cloudy white under direct light. A moderately thick head dissipates quickly, and the lattice is more in the pattern of rain drops than webbing.
Taste: If you’re looking for a crisp, hoppy Pilsner, look elsewhere. Shower Beer is both mellow and complex, and upfront it’ll treat your nose like a Kölsch, all butter and dew. The Saaz Hops give you a first indication of lagering, but rather than just foreplay on your tongue Champion was able to pull out flavors suggesting toasted buns or even garlic bread. This shouldn’t be confused with “bready” as here it’s more the additive flavors – an essence in the way a flavored olive oil doesn’t truly taste like lemons or sun-dried tomatoes. The finish is remarkably similar to the nose, and you have to wait a long time between sips for your palate to note some soft bitter elements. They are there, though, and they build over time.
Mouth Feel: I can never tell what the deuce they mean by “brewed cold” when it comes to certain macro beers, but maybe it does make a difference here. Champion claims to have the Shower Beer “aged cold on lager yeast for weeks,” and the result is smooth and, ahem, fresh. While sessionable at 4.5%, a slow sipping regimen is the only way you’ll ever coax out those 35 IBUs – look for the hops on the very outside of the tongue even then.
Overall: You’re likely to find exactly what you’re looking for from this beer. If you really want that hop bitterness, keep your nose out of the beer and just let the Saaz do its thing. If you want the flavor profile worthy of GABF Gold, take your time with the first few sips. This is not a beer to let bask in the sun, as its finer Lager merits diminish as its temperature rises. I wouldn’t quite recommend that you drink this as quickly as you shower, but hopefully you get the idea. Keep this one nearby in the cooler for your next cookout or when the fiery sand at the beach keeps your from wandering too far from your umbrella. And never take all the awesome beer we have in Virginia for granted!