Kellerbier: The Unofficial Beer Style of the State of Minnesota

Reads 1500 • Replies 50 • Started Wednesday, March 29, 2017 11:05:21 PM CT

Thread Frozen
 
CLevar
places 23 º 11:28 Sat 5/6/2017

We obviously have a fundamental disagreement on what the defining features of a Pilsner are.

I see hop character as just as important as malt or yeast character in these beers; I feel that hop character that is out of line with what Pilsner is precludes these beers from being a Pilsner, in the same way that malt character out of line with what a hefeweizen is precludes a beer from being a Hefe.

So a couple very simple questions- what is your definition of "Pilsner"? What are the characteristics of the style as you see it? Do you object to a different style, such as "American Pale Lager" to encompass versions with different hop character?

 
JK
beers 6249 º places 420 º 12:00 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.


I was speaking of kellerbier specifically, rather than keller pils which I view as a subset. Pilsner is established in the states, so I say experiment with it. Kellerbier on the other hand is far from established. Even beer nerds do not really know what it is. Brewers should attempt to brew German style kellerbier as it exists over there, and later try experimenting with it.

It is important to note I think that in my limited experience, kellerbier can very significantly from brewery to brewery in Germany. Spezial had a hazy yellow color; Mahr had a copper color, and so did Stiegl (better known for their radlers) Paracelsus, with the lighter colored beers being slightly dryer.

The common characteristic I recall of the German kellers was the prominence of the yeast in the aroma and the flavor, as well as the exceptionally soft palate and low carbonation. These subtle, nuanced qualities are more interesting to me than experimenting with different hops that are intended to take over the flavor and the aroma, because I find they ruin the style and those hops have a better place in pale ale.

I suggest brewers wanting to learn the style would do well to consider "Ungespundent," which is included in the names of many keller biers.

From the well known bar in Bamberg: http://www.abseits.de/bierfuehrer.htm

 
islay
beers 2920 º places 18 º 12:19 Sat 5/6/2017

Originally posted by CLevar
We obviously have a fundamental disagreement on what the defining features of a Pilsner are.

I see hop character as just as important as malt or yeast character in these beers; I feel that hop character that is out of line with what Pilsner is precludes these beers from being a Pilsner, in the same way that malt character out of line with what a hefeweizen is precludes a beer from being a Hefe.

So a couple very simple questions- what is your definition of "Pilsner"? What are the characteristics of the style as you see it? Do you object to a different style, such as "American Pale Lager" to encompass versions with different hop character?



I’m not a brewer, so I’m not going to be able to get too specific with a definition, but I think it’s roughly covered by: Pale, hop-forward lager (but not as hoppy as what this site now calls an "India Style Lager") of low to moderate alcohol strength. Pilsner of course is an interesting style for this debate because it originated in Bohemia before spreading to Germany, so any beer that doesn’t use Saaz hops or soft water by an extension of your argument perhaps doesn’t deserve to be called a pilsner (and thus all German pilsners should be relabeled as "German Pale Lagers"). If you insist on ghettoizing certain examples based on hops usage, I’d rather isolate the noble (and perhaps related)-hopped examples as "German Pilsners" or "Czech Pilsners" and then leave "Pilsner" as the catch-all category for everything else. But I think the idea of substyle works just fine here. "It’s a pilsner, in this case a traditional German Pilsner." "It’s a pilsner, but keep in mind that it’s a New World Pilsner."

I think it’s highly valuable to give brewers room for innovation, and demanding that innovative examples be given some uncatchy label that has no cachet in the market is an obstacle to innovation. The German brewing scene until very recently was stuck in the 19th century, and was vastly surpassed by the scenes in Belgium and the United States, because of a stubborn insistence on clinging to rigid definitions of styles and of beer itself.

You, CLevar, have the luxury of specializing in a "style" of beer ("mixed-culture fermentation beers") that isn’t really a style at all and in which anything goes. Heck, you’re not even limited to eukaryotic sugar-eaters. The people who love sours do so in large part because of the vast range of flavors they offer. Why box in other styles and deny them a small fraction of that flavor range? Again, even if we’re just talking about labeling, style names matter in the market (hence the effort, of which you are a part, to de-emphasize "sour" as a beer style description).

I’ll ask you a question: Do you take a similar position on IPAs? Should anything that doesn’t use Goldings, Fuggles, or related hops be called something like an "American Hoppy Ale?" Hops are at least as important to the flavors of IPAs as they are to pilsners. As much as I dislike most examples of the New England IPA substyle (compared to other IPAs, anyway), I certainly recognize New England IPAs as IPAs. I don’t demand that they be classified as "Cloudy Juicy Pillowy Pale Ales." I know there’s a movement to give such beers their own style (a sentiment I don’t share), but all who advocate that change still would put "IPA" as part of the style name.

 
MatSciGuy
beers 907 º 12:26 Sat 5/6/2017

What is unge?

 
CLevar
places 23 º 12:48 Sat 5/6/2017

Islay, you are drawing a number of false equivalencies here.

To emphasize once again: this is viewed through the lens of that balance between product and process. Does a beer with a style name or designation meet the expectations for the product, and is it produced in a manner consistent with our understanding of that product?

So-

IPAs *by their nature* are a vessel for hop experimentation. They are a relatively new style (lets not get going on the "But the British brewed them for export to India!", as it’s been debunked), and have since their inception taken advantage of the different hop varieties available. As the number of varieties have increased, so too have their use in IPA. This can’t really be said for Pilsner, and though there are certainly regional differences in what characteristic is accentuated the bones are retained.

Mixed culture beers *by their nature* are wildly varied. And I’d certainly not call "mixed culture" a style, but more a process definition, similar to "ale" or "lager". Similar to IPA, "mixed culture" has a much more modern understanding associated with it. While Lambic, Berliner Weiss, etc have been around for centuries, the umbrella term "mixed culture" is recent. And we certainly wouldn’t call a Berliner a Lambic, simply because they both employ organisms other than brewers yeast.

Does the designation of Pilsner as a style or category naturally capture the variety inherent to these other two examples? Is it an umbrella term to capture many sub-styles? I don’t believe that it does, or that it is. To me (and I don’t believe that I am alone here) Pilsner has a more specific set of traits. And because you seem to keep missing me saying it: I’m not for denying anyone anything. Brew beer you want to drink and that consumers enjoy. Just call a spade a spade.

To follow up on a earlier line of questioning I didn’t see an explicit/satisfying answer to: Why are you opposed to something like "American Pale Lager" for hopped up pale lagers of low to moderate alcohol content? Do you feel that Pilsner is the most appropriate designation? If so, why?

 
CLevar
places 23 º 13:15 Sat 5/6/2017

Alworth just posted a timely and relevant recap of IPA. Modern, with constant evolution defining the style.

https://www.beervanablog.com/beervana/2017/5/5/a-history-of-american-ipas

 
islay
beers 2920 º places 18 º 15:50 Sat 5/6/2017

Originally posted by CLevar
To follow up on a earlier line of questioning I didn’t see an explicit/satisfying answer to: Why are you opposed to something like "American Pale Lager" for hopped up pale lagers of low to moderate alcohol content? Do you feel that Pilsner is the most appropriate designation? If so, why?


1. They are pilsners. "Pilsner" does not depend on hop variety and never has. You’re the one employing the unusual and new definition that runs counter to conventional understanding. I don’t share your pet peeve.
2. "American Pale Lager" is a generic term that conveys very little and for which consumers have little understanding or respect. We will get fewer great beers like those in Surly’s Pils series if brewers feel pressured not to call them pilsners. Surly changed the name of its series from Surly Lager to Surly Pils precisely because the generic name was insufficient to market the beers. If brewers have to use a limited range of hops to earn the honor of calling their beers "pilsners," many breweries will indeed limit themselves to such hops, regardless of whether that’s the intention of your hardline position.

 
CLevar
places 23 º 16:23 Sat 5/6/2017

Frankly, marketing is a poor reason to call something it’s not.

Does Hefe depend on yeast?

Does a stout depend on malt?

Not sure why you are adamantly against including specific hop character as a defining characteristic of a style, when it’s so obvious that for some styles it is.

We will have to agree to disagree I guess. I’ll just say that when I buy a Pils I expect a certain product- when I get a hopped up pale lager instead I’m typically not pleased.

 
JK
beers 6249 º places 420 º 10:25 Sun 5/7/2017

Originally posted by islay
Originally posted by CLevar
To follow up on a earlier line of questioning I didn’t see an explicit/satisfying answer to: Why are you opposed to something like "American Pale Lager" for hopped up pale lagers of low to moderate alcohol content? Do you feel that Pilsner is the most appropriate designation? If so, why?


1. They are pilsners. "Pilsner" does not depend on hop variety and never has.


Has pilsner not always depended on the use of noble hops, particularly Saaz?

 
CLevar
places 23 º 12:34 Sun 5/7/2017

Originally posted by JK
Originally posted by islay
Originally posted by CLevar
To follow up on a earlier line of questioning I didn’t see an explicit/satisfying answer to: Why are you opposed to something like "American Pale Lager" for hopped up pale lagers of low to moderate alcohol content? Do you feel that Pilsner is the most appropriate designation? If so, why?


1. They are pilsners. "Pilsner" does not depend on hop variety and never has.


Has pilsner not always depended on the use of noble hops, particularly Saaz?






The emoticon I wanted is in a fight with joets website. This will have to suffice.