I don't write about lagers very often. Most of them are too boring to be worthy of mention. You don't want to read about them. They're usually either bland, at best, or at worst, taste of chemicals (hat tip to Jen, Shaun's wife on that descriptor).
Yet when Victory Brewing's St. Boisterous Hellerbock came on my radar, I jumped at it. First, this Pennsylvania brewery is arguably the East's best brewer, along with Dogfish Head and Brooklyn, and perhaps has the most accessible lineup of great beers in the region. Second, they do European styles quite well. The Prima Pils, their signature beer, is a great approximation of the classic European pils style and uses actual German hops exquisitely. Third, I was not familiar with the Hellerbock style, but I love German lagers and can't think of an American brewer I'd trust more to recreate the German style with perhaps a bit of Yankee ingenuity. Mark, meet St. Boisterous.
I was not disappointed. The beer pours a rich golden color with a substantial head. The nose boasts of flowers, grass, and wheat. It's packed with flavor. Tons of flavor. You almost forget it's a lager. Rich hops of the grainy, spicy variety - not the West Coast IPA floral, citrus variety - envelop your palate. Eventually, caramel and honeyed malts take over as the glass progresses, and an iced green tea flavor creeps in. Mid-palate has a lovely sweetness that's so enjoyable. You are reminded of its lager status by the quickly dissipating finish and the crispness. It has a dense mouthfeel for a lager. Masterful!
PROS: This is a super enjoyable lager, packed with unique flavor, never lacking for taste and finishes crisp and is never overwhelming and not too high in alcohol.
CONS: I could drink eight of these. Rather, I could think I could drink 8, and end up at home on my computer at 1 a.m. eating cold (but just delivered) Domino's Pizza, searching flights to Germany to find a Hellerbock fest in Munich. Now that's an expensive 6-pack.
VERDICT: 4.7 of 5 stars. Victory!