Brewer Jake's Top Five Pilsners in Denver

IPA…yum.

Stout…gimme.

Saison…absolutely.

Sours…hit the spot.

Hamm’s with an olive or two…perfect after I just mowed.

I love great versions of all styles of beer, but when I just want a beer or four, there’s no better style than Pilsner.

There’s no better style to test a brewer’s ability to extract the very best flavors from just a few simple ingredients. There’s no roast, no overwhelming hops, no other adjunct to cover up for flaws in the process. You need to use the best ingredients, and treat them right.

I’ve been on a pilsner kick recently, so I couldn’t have been more excited to head to Denver for the Craft Brewer’s Conference. It did not disappoint, I had no fewer than 11 pilsners during my 4.5 day stay in the Mile High City. All of them were solid beers, and all were infinitely crushable.

Note: I parked at the AirBnB on Sunday, and left Friday. In between, I didn’t get in a car, so my beer tasting was limited to how far my size 10-and-a-halfs could carry me. I’m sure I missed out on some of the best pilsners in town, but that’s just an excuse to go back soon.

Here are my top 5, no particular order:

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Austin Beer Garden Brewing’s Industry Pils / Our Mutual Friend’s The Fizz

When you’re trying to sample all the Pilsners, sometimes you need to be efficient. I ran into our friends from Lark Brewing at Ratio Beerworks, and after a few satisfying pints, we decided to walk a few blocks to Our Mutual Friend Brewing. They had Industry Pils, from ABGB, on tap, and I knew I had to have it. ABGB is on the current Mount Rushmore of Pilsner brewers in the country, having won multiple gold medals in multiple categories of Pils in the last few year.

OMF had a Pilsner brewed with 100% Colorado ingredients, so I had to sample native terroir too. It was a solid beer, but Industry was hard to beat.

So, why do these two beers get a joint entry? See above for a pic that Sean from Lark Brewing took.

 

Jack’s Abbey Pils

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I had to drive 12 hours west to try this beer, which is made on the East Coast. The drive to Denver was filled with gut-wrenching gas station food, gas stations without indoor plumbing, and, somehow, 34 hours of Nebraska. I got to Denver in the afternoon, got my badge for CBC, then started exploring. I came across a bottle shop called Mr. B’s, and struck gold. I’ve heard great things about Jacks Abbey, but never tried it.

Holy cow, this hit the spot. Most beers are good after a 12 hour drive, but I was as blown away by the last 5 cans as I was by the first. (not drank on the same night, don’t worry mom)

So flavorful, next time I see it I’m getting at a case.


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Oskar Blues Brewing’s Mama’s Little Yella Pils

I mean, just look at my view from the Rockies game. How could this one not make the list?

 

Saurez Family Brewery’s Palatine Pils

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Dan Saurez is probably on the Mount Pilsmore with ABGB. This beer usually doesn’t it make it too far from their small farm brewery in upstate New York, but they brought some to Denver for CBC week. Wow, it lived up to expectations. It was tasting even better since I had it on the patio of Finn’s Manor with friends on a beautiful day.

I can really appreciate the Saurez approach to this beer, making slight tweaks while brewing and re-brewing this beer in a never-ending pursuit of pilsner perfection. They came pretty dang close with this batch.

 

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Bierstadt Lagerhaus Slow Pour Pils

When we were looking for a place to stay in Denver, close proximity to Bierstadt was at the top of priority list.

I’ve heard so much about this beer, it’s almost become a myth. Triple (or maybe 4x?) decocted, 30 hour brew day, lagered for four months, 7 minutes to pour…how could it be worth all that fuss?

But…it was. Just look at that thing! The foam stability alone had every one of the 10,000 brewers in Denver drooling. Once you took a sip, the clean, crisp, sharp flavor of the malt overwhelmed you. The succinct bitterness cut through it, balancing things flawlessly.

This was probably my favorite beer at CBC. It stood up to finely-tuned judging when you want to analyze it. But it was most useful blending into the background while meeting new friends, as all great beers are.

 

Oh yea, I should probably mention that I learned some new things too. I figured the beer I drank would be more interesting blog material than my new insight into adjusting mash pH. Here’s a picture from that talk, just in case you thought I was under-selling it.

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