Craft beer has become hyper-local. To those of us who prefer to shop locally (I say “prefer” because, well, I have a long track record of advocating convenience as well), the places we get our beer occupying the similar consumer and brain space as the places we buy our vegetables, bread, and books is a really good thing. It’s make us feel good to support the people with whom we share our communities; It makes us feel as if we’re making a tangible difference in the lives of our neighbors because we are.
In those communities, there’s a familiarity. We see the local farmer tasting beers at the brewery, the brewer at the butcher shop, and the butcher at the local farm. It’s all a perfect circle. In craft beer, it’s only appropriate that we favor locality and eschew those brands that start atop pallets across the country, then board a truck for who-knows-how-long, and are then dropped at a distribution center before a replenishing delivery to a store.
It could be three months from packaging to cooler at our favorite beer store. And so living in a part of the country that values – to an extreme, at times – freshness and has access to some great tap rooms (or at the very least, breweries that self-distribute), there’s a good amount of beer from other regions of the country that get left to collect dust.
This is not a plea to drink old or stale or boring beer. Check the dates, drink the styles of beer you like; This is a plea to consider the beers that sit ubiquitously on the shelves or adorn cooler doors from some of the breweries that gave most of us our start in craft beer.
Which brings me to Paso Robles and California’s Firestone Walker, one of the best beer makers in the world. This brewery’s accessibility can work against them. Sure, their “brown box” series, aka, the Proprietor’s Vintage Series (Parabola, Sucaba, et al.), achieves the highest of acclaims and gets folks running to their beer store and for good reason: they’re some of the best beers in the world.
The beer is crisp and clean as Pilsners tend to be, but also has a complexity of character due to the earthiness orf the hops.”
But their yearly lineup, made up of many beers, each stellar in their own way, often sits on the shelves because, well, they’ll be there next time, and then next time, and the time after that. Before you know it, you’ve neglected a great beer for far too long.
Pivo Pils is one of those beers. Actually, I debated even using this beer as an example. I’ve written about this beer just recently, but when Firestone Walker sent me some fresh samples of the beer, it jumped to the forefront of my awareness. This 5.3% Pilsner is a great introduction to the Pilsner style for the craft beer newbie; It’s a great revisit for the craft beer veteran.
Let me explain:
Admittedly, I think Pilsners can be a bit boring. Of the lagers that I love, Pilsners typically fall short in my opinion. However, Pivo Pils brings something new to the equation by adding a West Coast twist to an old style. Firestone Walker brewmaster Matt Brynildson’s chose to use 100% German hops, yeast, and malts to make this beer both true to the classic style. But the five time GABF brewer of the year, inspired by Italian brewers, also dry-hopped Pivo Pils. The beer is crisp and clean as Pilsners tend to be, but also has a complexity of character due to the earthiness orf the hops.
So next time you're at the beer store, dropping a depressing sigh of apathy due to the latest arrivals, and having a hard time settling on that local IPA, take a look back to the classics. Pivo Pils is a great place to start.