While Surly over in Minneapolis is perhaps the trendiest brewery in the Twin Cities, Summit Brewing
in neighboring St. Paul is the stalwart veteran of the scene. Having been formed in 1986 the brewery is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year with a quartet of special beers. The first, a double eyepah, was released late last winter. Then, just before the heat of summer, they unleashed Keller Pils
, an unfiltered German-style pils.
Despite my perception of them being the unfashionable old-timer of the Twin Cities (though not as old as fellow Minnesotans August Schell which is 155+ years old), I just looked them up and Summit brews somewhere on the order of 120,000-130,000 barrels a year so someone is drinking their brews. It's just not usually me, I guess.
It's not that I'm anti-Summit. I suppose it's because stores tend to display their Sága Eyepah most prominently and then there's another eyepah and another and I then begin to get eyepah fatigue and my eyes wander to the Schell section. The truth is that they brew a fine pilsener and it's on store shelves year round. My parochial taste in beer no doubt also plays a role. Their year-round line-up looks to be mostly pale ales and so I tend to turn away. Finally there's Summit's Maibock and Oktoberfest. While I enjoy both, they tend to get lost in a sea of such beers every spring and autumn.
That I have failed to adequately support this neighbor to the west in the past is beyond a doubt. In my defense, however, I did purchase a six pack of their anniversary Keller Pils last weekend and have gone a long way towards guilt tripping myself with my writing thus far.
Keller Pils pours a hazy straw color. This being an anniversary brew, it put its best foot forward with a large, fluffy yet firm, white head that remained for quite a while until I greedily slurped it down. The bier was highly effervescent with bubbles aplenty inside going upwards.
"Keller" is German for cellar and implies a couple things to me. First is that the bier is unfiltered which I saw with the haze. But I also associate keller biers with freshness. It's fresh from the lager tanks downstairs. So fresh, the brewery didn't even bother to filter it. My can of Keller Pils had "10/10/16" printed on the bottom. Do they give consumers six months to quaff it?
Regardless of the fact that the bier in my glass was not pumped fresh from Summit's lagering tanks promptly upon hitting peak tastiness, it did have a really nice, pungent hop aroma that was floral and herbal just like spring itself when the flora once again comes to life. I can just imagine how it would have smelled earlier in the year. There was also a great cracker graininess here too.
Summit states that their Pilsener is brewed using a decoction mash and although I don't know if the process was utilized in brewing Keller Pils, it has those wonderfully rich malty flavors associated with decoction mashing. The bier is awash in seas of biscuit, toasted grain, and yeasty bread. The hops are no slouches either with a herbal taste above a floral one like I smelled earlier. Summit declares Keller Pils to be a German pilsner. And so while the hops give a fairly strong taste they are not as assertive as the Saaz you'd find in a Czech pilsener. Bitterness was moderate.
Keller Pils finishes with a spicy, almost minty, hop flavor overtaking the melanoidin maltiness. The bitterness is bumped up a couple notches making for a dry conclusion.
Decoction or not, Keller Pils is chock full of wonderful toasted grain and bread flavors and being a nice, clean lager, they really shine. A light body and a healthy level of carbonation means the bier isn't cloying and instead has a fairly bracing crispness. The hops are wonderful as well and I just love the floral freshness. But the greens aren't overpowering.
For anyone keen on taxonomic correctness, I'd bet that Keller Pils should lose the "Pils" and be happy being a kellerbier. I mean, can a pils not be clear? Regardless, Keller Pils ist ausgezeichnet!
Junk food pairing: As long as you're drinking bier from St. Paul, you should pair it with junk food from St. Paul. While quaffing your Keller Pils, snack on some Old Dutch Ripples Onion Blossom potato chips.
Labels: Beer, Kellerbier, Pilsner, Summit Brewing Company