Hitting the slopes has its unofficial beer, a gnarly one at that.
Wyoming’s Melvin Brewing partnered with the extreme sports media company Teton Gravity Research (TGR) to release Pils-gnar. The 5% ABV beer is designed specifically for enjoying with winter sports, said Dave Chichura, Melvin’s head production brewer. The style was chosen to appeal to even the pickiest of snow-bound athletes athletes, so the collaboration tilted toward a traditional, German-style pilsner. For those looking for a American-style hop-forward pilsner, it won’t be found in Pils-gnar.
“We really wanted it to appeal and be accessible to anyone,” Chichura said. “It’s an all-malt beer with a good dose of hops. It’s still got a huge amount of hops, but the particular hops we’re using, the German ones, are more of a spicy floral and don't come across citrusy.”
According to Melvin lore, the brewery’s co-founder Jeremy Tofte and TRG’s Jones Brothers formed a friendship at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort. Twenty years later, they reunited to create the beer. While Chichura was hesitant to say Pils-gnar would be a permanent addition to Melvin's lineup, he did say he expects it to be brewed for a while and mentioned the brewery was making a pilsner prior to finalizing the partnership with TGR.
I can see through it, it’s pale in color, doesn’t look offensive and is low in ABV.”
Pilsners were, for a while, seen as anti-craft. Some craft beer drinkers avoided them, because they were perceived as macro beer territory. However, as more brewers are swaying into the light lager territory, some large brewers are staking a claim to style. Victory Brewing’s Prima Pils and Lagunitas Pils are two of the original craft pilsners, leading the way for others such as Oskar Blues, Firestone Walker and Founders to launch widely distributed pilsner brands.
“It’s a lager, and lagers might not be what people expect when looking for a craft beer,” Chicura said. “But it’s got some familiarity and isn’t killing a drinker with bitterness or alcohol.” The familiarity and accessibility make pilsners and other light lagers a no-brainer for brewers today, Chichura adds, as they continue to look to welcome new drinkers.
“I used to work at another brewery and we brewed another pilsner and it quickly became our number two brand,” Chicura said. “Rightfully so, I believe, and I can see why people drink them. They can expect a certain aroma, flavor and texture from a pilsner.”
The expectation of an ice-cold pilsner on a ski hill can be a reward for anyone, no matter the method, whether making it down a mountain or simply watching the pros from the safety of your couch.
“It’s the perfect snow sport refreshment,” Chichura said. “I can see through it, it’s pale in color, doesn’t look offensive and is low in ABV. It’s also super crisp and refreshing, great for after a run down the hill.”