Pilsners are are more of a science than an art—you brew by the rules or you piss off an entire continent of beer drinkers. The middle ground is a fantasy. Monument City Brewing does not play in fantasy. The Baltimore brewery stakes its reputation on their flagship Penchant Pils, a beer that is, in turn, staked on the reputation of its highly regarded style. This beer won’t knock you on your ass if you’re adventuring for transcendence, but if you’re one of those people that pronounce “pilsner” with the extra syllable, you’ll find a lot to love.
If Monument City set out to imitate European exemplars like Weihenstephaner and Pilsner Urquell, they certainly nailed it with the color. Penchant Pils pours a gorgeous amulet gold—a sure sign that this one is a gift from the gods. The head is delicate as Chantilly lace, tracing a near-translucent ring around the glass.
Penchant Pils satisfies the parts of the brain and body that have been bred over eons to crave beer.”
Penchant Pils is yet another jewel in the crown of the Saaz hop. You can taste the herbaceousness before it even reaches your lips. The pale-as-Nosferatu aroma is this beer’s most alluring aspect, and it’s only enhanced by the light roastiness of the pale malt. It smells like the floor of a grain silo in Munich. Breathe it in.
If aroma is Penchant Pils’ forte, flavor is its fault. Though the beer is masterfully pale, and there’s just a tad extra on the hop notes, there’s just not a ton to dissect. If anything, there’s a little too much corn present, and that vegetable sweetness really kills the illusion that you’re drinking something small-batch.
Penchant Pils satisfies the parts of the brain and body that have been bred over eons to crave beer. It’s a living artifact of what you can accomplish with a proper reverence to the old ways. As a litmus beer, it speaks volumes about what Monument City is able to do on brew floor. But with such an ancestral tradition, the pilsner calls for the creativity of interpretation. Penchat Pils executes, but it fails to inspire.