As pilsners make their presence more known in the craft beer world everyday, few have made as big a splash as Oregon’s pFriem Family Brewers Pilsner.
“We’ve been delighted to see more and more interest in craft lagers over the past couple of year,” pFriem Head Brewer Gavin Lord said. “Pilsner is undoubtedly the favorite shift beer among our brewers and production crew.”
Following a silver medal at the 2015 Great American Brewers Festival, the snappy and floral pFriem pilsner has won a variety awards and plenty of praise from beer drinkers across the country and world. The challenge of brewing a classic pilsner, along with the refreshing reward at the end of the day, were the main reasons pFriem chose to make it one their mainstays.
“As brewers, the style represents a tremendous challenge,” Lord said. “There are few styles which can claim to be more nuanced in terms of process, raw ingredients, and overall recipe development. We couldn’t resist the urge to make a great pilsner to enjoy after a hard day’s work in the brewery and we couldn’t resist the challenge to brew an example that could compete on the world stage.”
To come up with their recipe, pFriem looked at a variety of German brewers, including Rothaus, Keesmann, and Jever. Lord also gave props to Firestone Walker, Chuckanut, Heater Allen, and Austin Beer Garden as making great pilsners in America.
The pFriem pilsner pleases the nose with flowers and lemon, while a malty, spicy liquid meets the tongue
We have been humbled and honored by the awards over the years.”
The classic interpretation of a pilsner shouldn’t come as a shock from pFriem, which, since opening in 2012, has produced dozens of straightforward and classic representations of styles as varied as IPA, helles lager, rauchbier, schwarzvbier, Festbier, Vienna lager, and wit.
“Overall, we definitely take a 'less is more' approach to our recipes,” Lord said. “Malt, water, hops and yeast provide an endless playground for the palate. There are few things more satisfying than meeting someone who has just finished their first pint of a pFriem beer at our tasting room and can’t resist ordering another pint of the same beer despite the 21 other offerings.”
The brewery also brews up a variety of twists on the beers too, like a Spring and Summer Pale, Dank IPA, Down Under IPA, and Citrus Zest IPA. In 2018, Lord said pFriem will release 26 barrel aged beers, ranging from Lambic-inspired fruit beers to a gin-barrel aged saison and a scotch barrel aged imperial brown ale.
The ability to make so many beers comes from batch after batch from pFriem’s 15-barrel brewhouse, which pumped out 17,000 barrels in 2017. Pilsner led the way in volume, followed by pFriem IPA.
Since opening, Lord said the goal at pFriem is to make the best beer in the world, and while he doesn’t believe the brewery is there yet, the ambition sets the tone every day when the team walks in the brewery. He's happy with the awards the pilsner and other beers have won, but it’s not the ultimate prize.
“We have been humbled and honored by the awards over the years,” he said. “What the public can’t see is the awards we didn’t win. While taking home a medal will boost morale and validate the endless hours dedicated to the pursuit of our goal, there is nothing like not winning a medal to light a tenacious, unyielding fire of commitment and focus among the crew.”
pFriem beers are now making their way out of the relatively small footprint of the Pacific Northwest, as this writer found out when pFriem was on tap at two bars in Las Vegas.
“We started sending a small volume of beer to Vegas earlier this year as part of a larger initative designed to introduce ourselves to some new key markets,” Lord said. “The better it’s received, the more we’ll send.”