On honeymoon in Greece, I discovered the joys of lemon.
Before honeymoon in Greece, I wasn’t aware – or I was simply ignorant of the fact – that you can squeeze lemon into anything and make it 300% better. Rich beef stews? Lemon. Grilled asparagus? Lemon. Yogurt? Lemon. Water? You guessed it, lemon.
Most mornings I eat yogurt with added lemon and yogurt; sometimes I’ll fire up some avocado toast with salt, honey and lemon. Fight me, Tim Gurner.
Lemon wedges float in my Camelbak. Okay, sometimes a couple mint leaves or cucumber slices, but don’t tell the lemon wedges.
Now lemon doesn’t always make beer better. Case in point: Leinenkugel Summer Shandy, whose taste I compare to Lemon Pledge. Not that I’ve had Lemon Pledge. Moving on.
Burial Beer Co.’s Shadowclock Pilsner isn’t Lemon Pledge, but there’s a punch of lemon on the nose. It’s lovely, settling me in a total summer mood fitting for a pilsner available in pint cans. Smelling this sends me back on the port of Chania, Crete, cutting into fish and lemon potatoes while watching a fisherman attempt to stab a petulant octopus to death.
On a warm day it leaves me only partially dazed, comfortably wanting another, and potentially a third.”
As my summertime quest for perfect Pilsners (Czech or German) continues, this offering from the Asheville, N.C., brewery that makes the fine Skillet Donut Stout rates well, but it’s not everything I want from the style.
First, the pebbly head is less than an inch high, a little thin for the pilsner I want. And it’s a cloudier gold pour than what I’m used to from the style. These aren’t major strikes, but they’re notable.
More importantly, it’s a little too American, thanks in part to the Sterling hops that bring subtle citrus to the palate and contribute to that beautiful lemon scent. That citrus note is part of a funk that enters up front with the malts, and it takes me away from what I’m supposed to find: cold, clean, golden goodness. And for that it tastes slightly more like a traditional pilsner with Americanized – mostly East Coast – notes.
It also ends with a hoppy bite that leaves no lingering aftertaste. Of course, a lack of lingering aftertaste is good for pilsners, which should be clean and satisfying, but the hoppy bite (I’d imagine this is Tettnanger getting the last word) is disconcerting. I’d almost rather the bready, malty taste that dominates the front hang out a little longer than to hit a bitter wall.
For pilsners these are important nuances, but as a crushable summer beverage Shadowclock doesn’t disappoint. On a warm day it leaves me only partially dazed, comfortably wanting another, and potentially a third. Bottom line: this is a good summer beer, just not a perfect pilsner.
And, honestly, I’m less worried about my beer choices during the sweltering months of summer. All I’m ever wanting is a cold beverage worthy to accompany my picnic-table game of Rummikub with the wife. Best enjoyed with a side snack of cheese curds.
And yes, waiter, I’d like a lemon wedge. Because maybe I’ve turned into a lemon (among other things) snob.