Friday, March 5, 2010

My Old Friend, Victory Prima Pils

Recall that car you had when you just started college, the one that needed repairs here and there but seemed as if it would run forever? Or, how about that flannel shirt you'd rip out of the closet or dig out of the hamper when you were in a hurry to meet the fellas for a pint. Maybe it's that buddy of yours whom you haven't talked to in forever, and after a few minutes on the phone it's as if you just hung out yesterday. Little did you know, you were actually embracing the equivalent of Victory Prima Pils.


Allow me to digress for just a moment. Domestic lagers get a bad rap. They've been tortured by the unholy trinity of industrial brewing giants, and a bunch of other sorry pretenders. At best, these beers are ignored at beer rating websites, and are often ravaged. Deservedly so. Lagers are too often bland, flat, watery, flavor-devoid, thoughtless wastes of alcohol. Many of these are so-called Pilsners that evoke tears based on their neglect of useful hops that deserved a far more worthy drowning death. After all, hops are proof God exists.

Yet, when done right, oft-neglected lagers can be simplistically beautiful things. A great lager can be refreshing and palate cleansing, inspiring that "ahhhh" response after each sip. It can be the perfect finisher after one has consumed a battery of heavier beers, or an effortless companion to a warm day. Pilsners, especially, with their sharp hop bite, can punch you in the face and make you really take notice.

Thankfully, the good folks at Victory Brewing in Downingtown, PA, are aware of the power of a great Pilsner. Their Prima Pils is a standout among American attempts at the style. It pours a head that's a plume of white foam atop a beer that's cloudy yellow. A thin, potent layer of hops instantly jabs the drinker upon the first sip, and quickly dissolves into a refreshing splash. It's just enough to entice to drinker to take another sip but is never heavy, never overwhelming. The closest comparison I can think of to the experience of drinking this beer is drinking fresh squeezed, iced lemonade in 90 degree heat: there's plenty of intense flavor to grab your attention but each sip leaves you utterly refreshed.

Victory has scored here in their replication of a great European Pilsner, and the "European hops and German malts" give it a major assist. Bottom line: offer this to any of your snobby, Flemish sour, barleywine, limited release of allocated oak barrel with orange peel beer drinking friends, as an example of the simple power of a Pilsner. Then, you can gloat that, unlike their Beer Advocate worshiped potions, after drinking three of *your* beers, one can still finish a sentence.

* * * * stars (outstanding, a classic).

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