Kellerbier: The Unofficial Beer Style of the State of Minnesota

Reads 1504 • Replies 50 • Started Wednesday, March 29, 2017 11:05:21 PM CT

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islay
beers 2931 º places 18 º 23:52 Fri 5/5/2017

Originally posted by Atom
http://www.startribune.com/pilsner-makes-a-comeback-in-the-twin-cities-craft-beer-scene/421180473/

Great article, Michael Agnew nails it!


It’s nice to see kellerbier get a mention in the Strib. I doubt the style has been mentioned in the vast majority of other major newspapers. Yet another stake of claim to the style for Minnesota.

As for pilsners, I know Agnew was focused on traditional examples, but the best Minnesotan pilsners I’ve tried have been ones that use non-traditional hops, such as much of Surly’s Pils series, Wild Mind Kiwi Pils, and Bauhaus Wonderstuff. I’d love to try keller versions of any of those. Don’t get me wrong; Hallertau and Saaz are superb hops. It just so happens that some of the best pilsners brewed in the state don’t use them.

 
CLevar
places 23 º 08:42 Sat 5/6/2017

Originally posted by islay
Originally posted by Atom
http://www.startribune.com/pilsner-makes-a-comeback-in-the-twin-cities-craft-beer-scene/421180473/

Great article, Michael Agnew nails it!


It’s nice to see kellerbier get a mention in the Strib. I doubt the style has been mentioned in the vast majority of other major newspapers. Yet another stake of claim to the style for Minnesota.

As for pilsners, I know Agnew was focused on traditional examples, but the best Minnesotan pilsners I’ve tried have been ones that use non-traditional hops, such as much of Surly’s Pils series, Wild Mind Kiwi Pils, and Bauhaus Wonderstuff. I’d love to try keller versions of any of those. Don’t get me wrong; Hallertau and Saaz are superb hops. It just so happens that some of the best pilsners brewed in the state don’t use them.


I guess I fall into the Schells camp here (big surprise, right?).

They are releasing a pale lager, hopped with Citra and Hall Blanc.

The style? "American Pale Lager"

Pilsner is the cool kid on the block again, and breweries want to capitalize on that name recognition while brewing something that might have more modern hop influences because enough consumers *don’t actually like/appreciate traditional pilsner hops*. Grassy, floral, perfume, spice...while those are defining characteristics of the style, modern hop preferences trend away from this subtlety and towards more in-your-face punchy hop character.

To reiterate, I have really enjoyed some versions of Surly Pils, as well as some of the other hopped up lagers brewed in the state. But these beers are to Pilsner as NE IPA is to Pale Ale. Yes, some similar characteristics and perhaps in the same family, but really a very different product.

 
Stine
beers 1795 º places 257 º 09:11 Sat 5/6/2017

Caleb does Fair State view the Kazbek as a traditional Keller? That hop is European right?

 
CLevar
places 23 º 09:31 Sat 5/6/2017

Originally posted by Stine
Caleb does Fair State view the Kazbek as a traditional Keller? That hop is European right?


Good question.

Having never had an actual factual Keller from/in he Old Country, it’s a hard one to answer definitively.

But, I’d say yes, in my opinion.

It’s a balance between process and product. We use German malt, mashed with a step mash. We use German yeast, with a low(ish) ferm temp and appropriately long lagering time. And while Kazbeck isn’t a noble hop and fairly recently introduced, it’s parentage is Saaz and it has the characteristics of a traditional hop.

So on the whole, we have a product that tastes like a reasonably traditional example (on paper at least), brewed using reasonably traditional process (so far as that can be the case with steam and glycol jackets, etc)

 
islay
beers 2931 º places 18 º 09:59 Sat 5/6/2017

Craft beer consumers demand variety, and it’s hard to achieve a satisfactory variety from a mere four hop types, regardless of how much consumers like them. That said, I’m sure some craft beer consumers do shy away from noble hops because they remind them a little too much of the macro pale lagers from which they’re trying to flee. My problem with New England IPAs isn’t that they fail to use Goldings and Fuggles. Rather, the Americanization of the IPA largely through hops experimentation is precisely what has made the style the most beloved in craft beer. Brewers straying from traditional recipes is in fact a sign of health for the style. RateBeer’s "Pilsener" definition specifically includes "New World artisan renditions in North America, New Zealand and elsewhere, which showcase modern hop varieties."

Different substyles? Sure. If you want to call Bauhaus Wonderstuff a "New World Artisan Pilsener (NWAP)," go for it. Different styles? Semantics, but I’d say no, and RateBeer, compared to BJCP and BA, for instance, tends toward minimizing rather than maximizing style breaks. I too enjoy a good noble-hopped pilsner, and I don’t want to see that expression eliminated from the market, but I’m happy to see it supplemented.

 
Stine
beers 1795 º places 257 º 10:02 Sat 5/6/2017

Great info. I’ve only had one traditional Keller in Europe, but given that experience I’m definitely of the opinion that all these current examples (many of which I love) are more like each other than like the one I had there. Hard to describe what that difference is - it was more mineral and malt-driven, while being just as hoppy.

 
Stine
beers 1795 º places 257 º 10:15 Sat 5/6/2017

Originally posted by islay
Craft beer consumers demand variety, and it’s hard to achieve a satisfactory variety from a mere four hop types, regardless of how much consumers like them. That said, I’m sure some craft beer consumers do shy away from noble hops because they remind them a little too much of the macro pale lagers from which they’re trying to flee. My problem with New England IPAs isn’t that they fail to use Goldings and Fuggles. Rather, the Americanization of the IPA largely through hops experimentation is precisely what has made the style the most beloved in craft beer. Brewers straying from traditional recipes is in fact a sign of health for the style. RateBeer’s "Pilsener" definition specifically includes "New World artisan renditions in North America, New Zealand and elsewhere, which showcase modern hop varieties."

Different substyles? Sure. If you want to call Bauhaus Wonderstuff a "New World Artisan Pilsener (NWAP)," go for it. Different styles? Semantics, but I’d say no, and RateBeer, compared to BJCP and BA, for instance, tends toward minimizing rather than maximizing style breaks. I too enjoy a good noble-hopped pilsner, and I don’t want to see that expression eliminated from the market, but I’m happy to see it supplemented.


Correct me if I misunderstand you, but doesn’t all this apply to what constitutes a definition of pilsener, rather than keller? I thought that was the direction John and Caleb were heading with their earlier thoughts.

 
CLevar
places 23 º 10:25 Sat 5/6/2017

Islay, in my example I specifically made reference to a balance between process and product- and no where did I say that *only* the noble hops can be used. In fact, you will note that I even stated that Kazbeck *is not* a noble hop varietal, though it does have noble parentage.

I think an easy question to ask when trying these beers is "does this taste more like a Pilsner, or more like a citra/galaxy/motueka etc beer?" This gets at the "balance" part of my product and process statement. Summit kellerpils is a perfect example- it doesn’t scream Huell Mellon (a new fangled hop), and has hop character more in line with traditional Pilsner with a hint of something different.

Last, using RB style designations isn’t really a great tool to convince anyone of anything. Gose is in the same category as lichtenhainer, and don’t get Marko started on sahti

 
CLevar
places 23 º 10:31 Sat 5/6/2017

Originally posted by Stine
Originally posted by islay
Craft beer consumers demand variety, and it’s hard to achieve a satisfactory variety from a mere four hop types, regardless of how much consumers like them. That said, I’m sure some craft beer consumers do shy away from noble hops because they remind them a little too much of the macro pale lagers from which they’re trying to flee. My problem with New England IPAs isn’t that they fail to use Goldings and Fuggles. Rather, the Americanization of the IPA largely through hops experimentation is precisely what has made the style the most beloved in craft beer. Brewers straying from traditional recipes is in fact a sign of health for the style. RateBeer’s "Pilsener" definition specifically includes "New World artisan renditions in North America, New Zealand and elsewhere, which showcase modern hop varieties."

Different substyles? Sure. If you want to call Bauhaus Wonderstuff a "New World Artisan Pilsener (NWAP)," go for it. Different styles? Semantics, but I’d say no, and RateBeer, compared to BJCP and BA, for instance, tends toward minimizing rather than maximizing style breaks. I too enjoy a good noble-hopped pilsner, and I don’t want to see that expression eliminated from the market, but I’m happy to see it supplemented.


Correct me if I misunderstand you, but doesn’t all this apply to what constitutes a definition of pilsener, rather than keller? I thought that was the direction John and Caleb were heading with their earlier thoughts.


Yep.

It’s worth mentioning (again) that I enjoy many of these nerd hopped pale lagers. And I certainly am not advocating for eliminating their use in pale lagers. I just see them as something different than Pilsner and/or kellerpils

 
islay
beers 2931 º places 18 º 11:19 Sat 5/6/2017

Originally posted by CLevar
I think an easy question to ask when trying these beers is "does this taste more like a Pilsner, or more like a citra/galaxy/motueka etc beer?"


I don’t think those are contradictory qualities. Hallertau is a powerful and distinct hop flavor, but I’ve never thought, "This tastes more like a Hallertau beer than a pilsner." Citra is just as valid a hop variety for the pilsner style as Hallertau is, tradition be damned, even though the end product will taste very different depending on whether Citra or Hallertau is used. As a pilsner fan, I’d love to see pilsner as a showcase style for different hop varieties in much the same way that IPAs and APAs currently are; in fact, that’s exactly what Surly is doing with its excellent Pils series.

Leech Lake Brewing Company failed because the owner thought every beer in a traditionally British style should use Fuggles. I know you’re not advocating anything like that extreme. I’m just trying to point out that it’s unnecessary, limiting, and often counterproductive to hew closely to tradition in terms of choosing hops or defining styles.

I think the only area in which we disagree is that you seem to think that beers that use noble hops or hops derived from noble hops or hops that can kinda sorta mimic noble hops have a greater claim to the "Pilsner" label, and I think that choice of hops is irrelevant to whether a beer properly should be called a "Pilsner," just as choice of hops is irrelevant to whether a beer properly should be called an "India Pale Ale." I give no bonus points for "authenticity" (as the term is used in the culinary world). Again, if you want to throw on a "New World" appellation to distinguish pilsners using distinct modern hop varieties from traditional Czech or German pilsners, I have no problem with that, but they are perfectly valid pilsners nonetheless.