It’s kind of hard to get people on board with Pilsner. Too many craft beer drinkers see the word and want to associate it with the macrobreweries and don’t want to even spend a nickel on them. The problem with that is there has been a surge this year, or at least a surge to me, of Virginia Breweries getting behind the German Style Pilsners by brewing them the right way with quality ‘craft’ ingredients. Even then, it is tough to shake public expectation of what a good pilsner should taste like or getting them to commit to one that they would order again. Fortunatily this weekend, I found what I think it about the closest to a true GSP that you will find in Virginia, maybe in the states.
Pils, Hardywood Park Craft Brewery (Richmond, VA)
German Pilsener, ABV: 5.2%
Presentation: Tap pour into Pilsner glass, done right.
Appearance: Pale yellow with medium-light carbonation, nice white head that does not linger very long.
Smell: Aroma is very, very light on this beer. Contrary to the Czech styles (i.e. Lagunitas Pils) this is a light hopped, less sweet to almost dry aroma, with faint wheat notes.
Taste: Clean and smooth without it seeming watered down. The hops just outways the malt so that it is not too bitter or dry, but with enough spice to it to keep the flavors balanced. While some German varieties of Pilsners can be on the heavier end of the hop profile, this one pushes the lower limits of what the style dictates, which contributes to the drinkability, and something coveted in American culture.
ABV/IBU Feel: Light mouthfeel of mild-to-medium hops and spice gives it that classic off-dry true pilsner taste. The ABV is on the higher end of GSPs and adds a little sharpness, but only as the beer warms up. IBU is around 35, which feels about right. Not overpowering but enough to notice.
Overall: It’s hard not to like anything that is coming out of Hardywood right now. Marketing will play a huge role in the commercial success of this beer, as the winter months are do not tend to favor the lighter style beers. Regardless of the season, this is a quality beer that you can tell took a focus and consorted effort to make. It is worth the craft beer price on however you can find it. This is one of the truest forms of beer I have enjoyed since we started this site and hope to see this around all year long.