Victory Brewing Company Prima Pils

Victory Prima Pils once saved my life. I’m not saying it rushed into a collapsing orphanage, set ablaze by a lightning strike, and carried me to safety on its bottle (though I’m sure it would if that situation ever presented itself). It did, however, come to my rescue at a recent beer festival. [info]

I was outside, minding my own business (which is to say annoyingly chatting people up, trying to make them laugh with my long winded stories and “observational” humor), enjoying a beautiful day. Beautiful, yes. Comfortable, no. It was 171 degrees (Fahrenheit, of course) out, and my antics made me just this side of heat exhausted. I was in dire need of some hydration. Water being for non-alcoholics, I decided I needed a perfect summer beer. I needed something light, crisp, and dare I hope, delicious. That’s when Jesus (or one of the volunteers at the fest) tapped the Prima Pils. I drank; I survived; I was able to annoy many more people as the afternoon went on.

You’re pretty and you smell good

I figured it was probably time to taste this beer again, with a clearer head and more focus. I’m glad I am. The thing that appealed to me in my state of emergency is what always makes this a nice drinker. It’s got a ton of flavor and a super light and crisp body.

Prima Pils pours a gorgeous, glowing gold color, crowned by a fluffy white head. Aroma wise, you begin to get a real sense of what makes a beer like this so special. It seems so soft, so delicate upon viewing. But poke your sniffer in there and behold an inviting floral aroma, surrounded in a slightly sweet, almost graham cracker impression. When do I get to drink? It’s been almost ten minutes since I started writing.

Something about summer cries out for beers like these, and so to finally pay off your desire with the satisfaction of quaffing is heavenly. Sure, as a taster you want to take it in slowly, swish it around, and slowly swallow it; all the while ruminating on every nuance. That’s for professionals. I’m just some dope with a computer and an hour a week on my hands. So, chug–a-lug!

Drink it cold

Wow, vibrant hop flavor comes through. To describe what hops taste like can be difficult, but to experience it, drink a pilsner like this. Softly bitter, with a hint of spice, possibly even minty note, it’s lovely. There’s also a slightly grainy sweetness. It’s not overwhelming, but serves to keep that hop quality in check. This is not a pale ale or an IPA – a pilsner is built on subtlety and grace. Each sips reveals sticky, impressive lacing.

A healthy carbonation gives this a nice carbonic bite at the end. A crisp finish like this begs for another sip (gulp), and who am I to refuses the cries of the beer that saved my life? I would normally think a beer should be drunk warmer than ice cold, and yes, with some warming, you do begin to actually pick up more aromas, and what the French call “flavors”. BUT, the refreshment of this beer calls for a nice chilly temperature. This is no penny ante, watery mess in a can. This beer has so much flavor and aroma, it can stand up to cold and still come through clean, aromatic, and flavorful all at the same time. So drink ’er cold.

The verdict

[quote align=right]Prima Pils is, for me, one of three or four beers that I think is the best beers with which to indoctrinate (I mean introduce) someone to craft beer. The other three I’ll hopefully write about down the line before this column is unceremoniously cancelled. When you look at the most popular beers in the world, those with horsies and frogs, and guys in ill fitting Wranglers, and special glassware that has to be scraped with a butter knife to take off that extra puff of foam on the top, you’re looking at beers that are attempting to be some vague facsimile of a pilsner. From BJCP (a non-profit organization that provides beer judging guidelines):

“…[a Pilsner] is very light straw or golden in color and well hopped. Perception of hop bitterness is medium to high. Noble-type hop aroma and flavor are moderate and quite obvious. It is a well-attenuated, medium-light bodied beer, but a malty residual sweetness can be perceived in aroma and flavor.”

Aside from the fact that the beer described above has aspirations of flavor, does it not sound pretty similar to any number of beers that you see advertised during one of my precious Chicago Bears trouncing of an NFC North rival (or some other meaningless game not involving the Bears)?

And, that is the point, this beer is approachable. The color, the head, the aroma and the body are all recognizable. They feel familiar, and thus approachable. The macrobrew drinkers will not be scared off by one look at this liquid gold. The equivalent would be taking a MacDonald’s (that’s right, MAC, not Mc- I use the David Letterman pronunciation) fans, and sitting them down in front of a gourmet gastropub burger made from ground Wagyu beef, with truffle oil, a nice red wine marinade, and topped with shiitake mushroom and Danish blue cheese. They can see it is a burger; not so unfamiliar. They’ll be willing to taste. As with that, the results of one taste of a Prima Pils would be to have the victim immediately be amazed that something they thought could only be one thing, could actually be so much more. Their eyes and taste buds now opened, they will be on a constant search for broader; experiences of greater depth and flavors. You’ve created a monster. Or, they’ll still prefer the horrible representation of beer they “enjoyed” before, and you’ll just un-friend them on Facebook.

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