Spring is here for everyone, summer is either here or rapidly approaching, and as the weather changes, the urge to play hooky increases exponentially. Now, as an adult, the ability to do that is sadly limited to the amount of sick days available.
Back in the day, in the halcyon days of college, when the future was but a dream and irresponsibility had much fewer consequences, avoiding a Friday afternoon class for a few cold ones with friends was socially mandatory.
I was reminiscing the other day about one spring afternoon in 2007 when I skipped class to drink beer with my two friends Angela and Katie so we could drink cheap beer on the roof of their house with their cat Atari.
It was a crisp, unseasonably warm day – the cloudless sky and beating sun made colors brighter and cheap beer taste better.
We were drinking Lionshead, a pilsner from local brewery Lion Brewing, located in “scenic” Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. Founded in 1905, Lion is one of the oldest breweries in that state that still produces beer. The beer has been an institution in the Northeastern Pennsylvania area for over 100 years, and is now getting a much wider release nationally.
Most importantly, the puzzles are a novel way to test whether or not you've had a couple too many of them.”
As the popularity of retro beers like Pabst Blue Ribbon, Schlitz, Genesee, and Ballantine increase, old school beers like Lionshead have found their niche, expanding from just PA distribution to eleven states in a relatively short period of time.
Clocking in at 4.5% alcohol by volume, Lionshead was the perfect match with a delightful spring day of drinking with pals. To a poor college student, this brew may as well have been Dom Perignon compared to the usual swill of Keystone Light or Kool Aid mixed with Everclear, and at around $12 for a case of 24, you can’t do much better.
The beer itself pours an energy drink yellow with plenty of carbonation that tickles the nose as the malty smell hits. It’s an extremely light bodied beer, one that won’t bloat or fill your stomach as you drink it. There is a refreshing sweetness on the finish, especially on draft. The fresher this beer is the better it is – sadly this beer seems to spoil rather quickly.
Perhaps the most memorable part of Lionshead is hidden inside its bottle. The bottle itself is not aesthetically memorable, a simple brown label adorned with a roaring lion. Hidden on the bottom of each bottle cap is a simple photo riddle to tease the mind of the drinker of the beer. There are even websites that track and answer the many cap puzzles.
While the beer is also available in cans, it’s just not the same without those puzzles. The bottle cap puzzles are what make Lionshead a fun and memorable beer. Most importantly, the puzzles are a novel way to test whether or not you've had a couple too many of them.
Cheap beer has its place in the craft beer market, and Lionshead is arguably one of the best of those. It is best paired with a sunny day and close friends.