Fearful Symmetries

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10 February, 2014

The Revenant Brew: Baderbräu Chicago Pilsener



Baderbräu bills itself as "Chicago's Original Craft Beer" and, while it may not be wholly accurate, its trademark Czech pilsner was first brewed in 1988. Michael Jackson famously called it "the best pilsner I`ve ever tasted in America". Unfortunately, the company ran into financial problems and went bankrupt in 1997 whereupon the name was bought and then resold to Goose Island. GI brewed the beer until 2002. Fast forward to 2010 when the Baderbräu trademark was bought by a couple of investors who brought the brand back from the dead. They contracted with Argus Brewery on Chicago's south side and the resurrected beer finally returned to taps in 2012 and bottles shortly thereafter.

The beer pours a light golden color and is clear. There were lots of bubbles streaming upwards towards the generous, pillowy head from the bottom of the glass. And the foam stuck around for a while too leaving some nice Schaumhaftvermoegen. Certainly a pretty beer but I thought it was a bit darker in color than most pilsners I've seen. It smelled really nice. It had a biscuity aroma along with a mild grassy hop scent. Curiously, there was some slight sweetness to it as well – reminded me of raisins.

The flavor was a bit more like bread than, say, crackers and there was a definite stonefruit sweetness. Not particularly strong but definitely noticeable. This gave the beer a slightly heavier body and wasn't quite as crisp as I was expecting but it remained medium-light. Mouthfeel was similar yet still on the light side and smooth. It was also nice and effervescent so you had that tongue tingling sensation and I think this helped give the beer a lighter feel. Oddly, it didn't taste as hoppy as I had expected either. To me, Czech pilsners are well-hopped with that Saaz goodness up front but here the spicy hoppiness was a bit further in the background than I was accustomed to. Still, it managed to balance the maltiness very well.

It finished dry with some nice bitterness and a lingering grassy-herbal hop flavor.

Despite being a smidgen heavier and sweeter than I was expecting, Baderbräu is some very tasty stuff. The malt and hops were balanced nicely and, at 4.8% A.B.V., it is fairly sessionable. Not being as sharp and light as some of its peers, I probably wouldn't make Baderbräu my go-to beer for the bowels of summer when it's 90 degrees out but it sure did the trick after work one day when it was below zero outside.

Junk food pairing: Pair Baderbräu with Buffalo Wing Goldfish Puffs. They're light enough not to enhance the beer's malt profile too much and have some zing to them to provide contrast on the tongue.

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|| Palmer, 3:13 PM

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