Hamilton has already complained about how hard it is to get people on board with Pilsners. Well, genius, they’re dry, more bitter than the IBU would suggest, and a hybrid originating from a country which REALLY doesn’t want you to experiment with bier. Thankfully, though, we live in ‘murikah, and our brewers can do whatsoever they want.
Okay, let’s start with something that may not be obvious. This isn’t quite Blue Mountain Brewery, the lead spot on the Brew Ridge Trail up in Afton. Their sister operation the Barrel House focuses on barrel-aged creations such as the Dark Hollow Imperial Stout which took home some honors in an early Tailgate Throwdown. You can still find Barrel House brews over in the main Blue Mountain tasting room, but you can also head down the road to get your refreshments a little, um, fresher.
Über Pils, Blue Mountain Barrel House (Arrington, VA) – @BlueMtnBrewery
Imperial Pilsner, ABV 7.6%, IBU 40
Presentation: Bomber pour into German-style tall glass (fine, I used my Pilsner glass the other night).
Appearance: Goodness, look at that monster. The head built up after only about 12 oz., and lingered for as long as it took me to go nuke some munchies. The original head put a fair amount of lattice up at the top of the glass. There’s also almost an unfiltered quality which I’ll attribute to the “deep well water” the website description winks at.
Taste: All the things you hate about a Pilsner aren’t here. All the things you love are. A bit of wheat comes across the nose yet there’s still something resembling the crispness of the style without most of the bitterness. The imperial flavor reminds me more of what you’d expect from an IPA, which is intriguing since the ingredients are through and through Lager/Pilsner. Hallertau noble hops do supposedly give you more flavor on the nose than bitterness on the finish, so it could simply be that in this case, more is a very good thing.
ABV/IBU: While this doesn’t come anywhere close to 40 on the IBU scale, there’s no mistaking the alcohol content. In fact, if there’s one overbearing element in play it’s that the Über seems to be punching above its weight class as more of a 10% beer. In any event, sip the darn thing.
Overall: On a personal note, heading into the Winter months you’ll hear a bit less from me. While grad school is over, and UVa football is winding down, a change in jobs and a baby due next month will own my time like none other. As my beer fridge empties out, I’ll be keeping in the loop by focusing more on limited releases, bombers, and draughts. In that sense, the Über Pils is a good first start in that I stumbled across it while looking for something else, and found what to me is a fine example of what artisanal brewing can accomplish. The flavors are amped up a bit while it reminds you that you’re there to let the beer linger, not rush for the next one. I enjoyed the hell out of it, in other words. Consider the Barrel House officially on my radar.