A six-pack!After Zatec, Lagunitas Pils reminds me of the major difference between European beers and American craft beers: radicalism. Lagunitas is well-known for off-the-beaten-path brews with names like Hairy Eyeball, Lumpy Gravy, and Brown Shugga, and its benignly titled “Pils” does not disappoint.

The beer pours well, and maintains the necessary fluffy head required by a good Pilsner. Never mind that the word “Pils” is usually reserved for German-style pilsners: the label rightly proclaims this beer as a Czech-style Pilsner. It is much crisper and more thirst-quenching than typical German Pilsners, and has a much more complex, fruity nose.

I’m getting ahead of myself though. Underneath a fluffy head is an extremely effervescent beer, almost too carbonated for my liking, and much more carbonated than most pilsners I’ve encountered. The nose is fruity and seriously yeasty, which gives the beer a really fresh smell. The taste itself betrays its origins; most Czech lagers aren’t nearly as carbonated or as complex. Lagunitas Pils is a bit over-carbonated as a first impression. its makes for a great summer beer, and would be paired well with greasy or spicy foods as a result, but on its own, the carbonation makes the complexities of the beer more difficult to discern. Underneath and behind the carbonation is a surprising hoppiness, and an even more surprising fruitness: raisins, apples, and pears particularly (though I find that the flavors beer critics often write about in beers are more of a mental game than actual flavor: a sensory placebo effect).

In conclusion, Lagunitas Pils is a great beer. However, it is better than it is authentic (if that makes any sense). Being concerned with authenticity first and foremost, I don’t rate this beer as highly as it deserves. Strangely, I find that you can tell the quality of a pilsner by your ability to forget that you’re drinking it. (If your beer is too complex or intense, how can you expect to carry on a conversation?) I recommend this beer highly, but don’t expect a traditional Czech Pilsner–expect its more intense American craft-brewed equivalent.

Na Zdravy!

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