Fearful Symmetries

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01 September, 2015

Beera Incognita: Pilo by Lakefront Brewery

I seem to have hit the brews from last summer section of my stash of beer that lies on my basement floor.

Pilo (pee-low? pie-low?) was the ninth release in Lakefront's My Turn series in which employees of the brewery get to design the beer they've been pining for. Chris Pilo is, as near as I can determine, the Production Control & Safety Coordinator at Lakefront and it was his desire to have an imperial pilsner. And so it was done. Pilo came out some time last summer.

I kept the bottle in my basement so it remained fairly cool and out of the direct path of the skunk-inducing rays of that refulgent orb in the sky. Considering the storage conditions and the beer's potency, it is an imperial beer, after all, I didn't expect the flavor to have degraded that much.

My photo isn't too bad this time around so you can see that Pilo pours a light gold color and was a little bit cloudy. My pour resulted in a nice fluffy white head, though it didn't last very long. There were lots of bubbles going up the glass.

My Pilo didn't have a whole lot going for it on the nose. I caught a citrus smell as well as waves of amber grain aroma. The citrus surprised me and I wasn't sure if some West Coast aromatic hops were used or whether my nose had gone awry because I was expecting more of a Noble hop aroma to be present. I don't consider this to be a defect as the beer was not fresh and pilsners deserve more love than I was able to give to Pilo.

The expected hoppiness ended up on my tongue rather than in my nose. There was a distinct spicy hoppiness to go along with the grainy flavor and a syrupy sweetness that tasted of bread dough and apricot. All those bubbles in the glass added plenty of fizziness and a hint of dryness too. The sweetness gave the beer a medium-heavy body. While the requisite hop flavor was present, there just wasn't enough to cut through the rather thick sweetness. Again, I cannot say if the beer was brewed with less hop flavor than I expected or if it had faded with age.

Pilo finished dry with a lasting herbal hop bitterness. My glass was patterned with a goodly amount of Schaumhaftvermoegen.

It is difficult to judge Pilo because of the age of my bottle and my ignorance of the imperial pilsner style. An imperial German pils? Or a Bohemian? Or another version of the pilsner? On the other hand I would expect a pils of the imperial variety to simply have had more hop flavor. Pilo had the hoppiness of a normal German pilsner, by my tongue, so there should have been more of that spicy bitterness. My guess is that this had a lot to do with age so I am not counting this as a strike against the brew.

More difficult for me is the extreme malty sweetness. A pilsner, to my mind, should have malt flavors that are cracker-like and biscuity instead of doughy and sweet. Pilo tastes clean in the sense that there aren't any fruity esters but it just doesn't have that sharp, crisp flavor going. I can't honestly say that I've had any imperial pilsners before. I may have but I can't recall them so I'm in beera incognita here. I would expect an imperial pilsner to have some malt sweetness but here is just seems to be a bit overly abundant even when considering the beer's age. It was more like a well-hopped Märzen than a pilsner.

Pilo is a big beer at 8% A.B.V. yet it hides the alcohol well. I didn't get a burn as one might expect. Perhaps I was just too occupied with the abundant malt sweetness and relative paucity of hop bitterness. Regardless, I enjoyed Pilo. It could have used a bit more hoppiness but I'd bet that it would have been there a year ago. And the malt sweetness wasn't cloying as there was still some hops to be had and plenty of carbonation too. Not an ideal summer thirst quencher but it hit the spot as I sipped it out on my porch.

Junk food pairing: If you have any Pilo at your disposal then drink it now and pair it with something spicy like Snyder's Hot Buffalo Wing Pretzel Pieces or a bag of Flamin Hot Cheetos. Let all the fizz and booze wash the spice away.

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|| Palmer, 12:05 PM


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