The Bible Belt has never exactly been known for its liberal alcohol laws, and my home state of Tennessee is no different. By only recently allowing the sale of beers with an ABV above 6.0% in gas stations and grocery stores, the state forced its breweries to build their brands on offerings that came in under that restrictive limit.
Wiseacre Brewing Co. embraced the challenge upon opening the first taproom in Memphis in 2013. Its flagship beers Ananda IPA and Tiny Bomb American Pilsner led the charge, with both becoming established offerings across the state. Tiny Bomb in particular has long been a favorite of mine. A hoppy pilsner brewed with local honey, Tiny Bomb remains a fixture in my rotation on visits back home—even after the state bumped its ABV limit to allow higher gravity beer and wine outside of liquor stores.
Each can of Tiny Bomb is a color explosion, with yellow, orange and green accents surrounding Wiseacre’s cracked acorn logo. Once it is poured, Tiny Bomb is straw yellow and totally transparent. Big bubbles make up a tall, fluffy white head that leaves beautiful lacing around the glass. It may not be groundbreaking, but Tiny Bomb ticks all the right boxes when it comes to a pilsner’s appearance.
Tiny Bomb is highly quaffable while remaining interesting, packing waves of flavor into a low-ABV beer explosion.”
Spicy hops immediately stake the largest claim in the aroma. Hints of fruit fade into crisp and bready malt notes. The aroma is cleaner than most pilsners with almost none of the pilsner dirtiness I love, but the wildflower honey addition provides a slightly sweet and floral quality that is unique to Tiny Bomb. It is a fairly mild aroma overall, but that’s to be expected from a pilsner.
Wiseacre pushes the hops forward in Tiny Bomb. They wash grassy, spicy and earthy notes over the palate. A slight bit of fruit is present as well—maybe apple or pear—before the super biscuit-like malt bill steals the spotlight. Sweet floral notes imparted from the wildflower honey round out the flavor, yielding to a bold, bitter and dry finish that doesn’t linger.
The balance struck between bitter and earthy hops, biscuit-like malt and floral honey would make for an excellent offering regardless of ABV and style, but wrapping those characteristics up in a pilsner package is an impressive feat in brewing. Tiny Bomb is highly quaffable while remaining interesting, packing waves of flavor into a low-ABV beer explosion. Who says low ABV means low flavor?