The Brooklyn Growler

"Life is all skittles and beer." — Tom Lehrer

Without Victory There Is No Survival

Pilsners, to me, are a distinctly summery beer, which is why I was happy to have a Victory Prima Pils on a recent September afternoon.

The Prima Pils from Downington, Pa.’s Victory Brewing Co. is brewed in the classic German style. Pilsners are a lager beer – historically stored in caves as a form of cold conditioning – that have a straw-like color and a nice but mild bite of hops with a refreshing finish.

Victory’s pilsner is all that and a little more. This pilsner has a 5.3 percent ABV and is double hopped to give it a sharper bite than most pilsners. The Prima Pils a strong-bodied pilsner that is full of flavor that fully embraces the pilsner style.

Pilsners often get a bad rap from craft-brew aficionados due, in part, to the proliferation of American-style pilsners such as Budweiser, Miller, and the like.

It was in the 1870s that pale lagers like Budweiser began to take hold in America, shifting tastes away from the heavy amber Bavarian beers. These new pilsners were made with corn or rice and were, at the time, more expensive to make than the all-malt beers – and these beers satisfied American beer drinkers more than any other beer. (The process for making them grew cheaper as time passed; at the time of their inception, though, it’s important to note that a Budweiser was actually an expensive beer to produce.)

These pilsners formed the backbone of the industrialization of the brewing industry. And as Maureen Ogle notes in her book Ambitious Brew, many local beers of the nineteenth century were made of poor quality and had an inconsistent, sour, or nonexistent flavor. It was Budweiser and its competitors who produced consistent-tasting beers at a high enough volume to break into markets throughout the U.S.

These sweeter-tasting beers came to dominate the market and thereby defined what a beer was to many beer drinkers.

But German pilsners always remained the same – Pilsner Urquell, Jever, and Spaten to name a few – retained that crisp bitter flavor without the sweetness. They’re mass produced in Germany and imported to U.S., sure, but the style is distinct from a Budweiser, which is a sweet, watery beer that doesn’t offend.

I always find it bold of craft brewers to take a shot at a pilsner. The style might not excite many hop enthusiasts. In my mind at least, the first thing I think of when I think about a craft beer is an amber-colored brew with a strong hoppy flavor and a rich, malty taste. While a golden pilsner seems like the antithesis of craft brewing. But it’s all about the ingredients and Victory doesn’t skimp on the Prima Pils.

And so with that said, when a craft pilsner works out – it’s a victory.

Filed under: beer history, beer reviews, , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Ghost Beer Haunts Stink Cave

Over at the Cincinnati Business Courier, Jon Newberry noted today that the great stink in Latrobe could affect some local Cinci brands of beer, such as Hudy Premium Beer (see Cincinnati Business Courier).

I don’t know nothin’ about Hudy, but I do know that it’s not uncommon for brands of beer to share production centers. Though Hudy is a Cincinnati, Ohio-proud beer, it’s brewed over in Latrobe, Pa. Hudy is a German-style beer. If you’re trying to find a case, check out a Kroger’s grocery store and bend over to peruse the lawnmower brews.

Brooklyn Growler reader David N. Lewis, age 32, of Cobble Hill, Brooklyn, wrote in to inform this here site that the previously noted City Brewing Co. of Latrobe, Pa. and Wherever, Wis. was also the maker of Wiedmann beer.

Wiedmann was a beer that was produced by the Geo. Wiedmann Brewing Company of Newport, Ky. The brewery has been closed since 1983. Newport, for all intents and purposes, is a part of the Cincinnati metro-area as it is just over the river and whatnot.

In its day, the Wiedmann brewery was not only synonymous with Newport, but it was also the Bluegrass State’s largest brewery. The brewery was founded sometime in the 1870s shortly after George Wiedmann moved to Kentucky from Germany.

Wiedmann described itself as a Bohemian-style beer. Bohemia is a region of Central Europe that is in the modern day’s Czech Republic.

A Bohemian beer is a lagered beer (cold stored; historically stored in caves) that is, essentially, a pilsner-style beer. If you’re trying to imagine what a Wiedmann tasted like, think about a cold Pabst Blue Ribbon on a hot day when you’ve just finished a physically exhausting task.

Let’s all raise a can of ghost beer and toast an unholy stink.

Photo of some Wiedmann beer cans via Kentucky Beer Cans, used without permission.

Filed under: breweries, , , , , , , , , , , ,


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May 2020