Our love affair with craft-brewed lagers continues into 2017 by featuring Highland Pilsner from Highland Brewing Company (Asheville, North Carolina) in our latest installment of Tasting Notes.
First released back in April of 2016, Highland Brewing Company developed Highland Pilsner to be a “highly nuanced” traditional German-style Pilsner. This ambitious goal was achieved with a recipe consisting of four different Hallertau region hops – Perle, Saphir, Hallertau Blanc and Hersbrucker – and a German Pilsner malt that accounted for “100% of the grain bill.” This beer was then “cold fermented with lager yeast for a crisp, dry finish” that can be enjoyed year-round “on the water, in the mountains, or at the golf course.” Highland Pilsner is available now in 6-packs of 12 oz. cans and on draft at craft beer establishments in Alabama, Florida, and throughout the rest of Highland’s distribution area.
Since I am a devout fan of German brewing styles and traditions, I simply cannot wait any longer. Let’s pop the top on this can and get to some Tasting Notes!
Tasting Notes for Highland Pilsner from Highland Brewing Company
Appearance: Highland Pilsner pours a pale straw yellow in color that beams with lemony highlights when exposed to direct light. This allows for a presentation that is quite bright and softly glowing. The body defines “crystal clear” and shows off a racy carbonation presence. The pour supplied a finger of snow white foam that is bubbly and loose. The head swiftly falls to a thin – but complete – ring that lingers throughout to leave sporadic chunks of lace on the glass from time to time.
Aroma: Wonderfully clean and fresh Pilsner malt greets the nose with earthy and lightly sweet grain notes. The hops are present but well-mannered, lending gentle tones of grass, pepper, white grape and pear. The aroma closes with just a tinge of lemon.
Taste: To ensure that there is no mistaking that this is a traditional, German-style lager, Pilsner malt and lager yeast arrive first on the tongue. The hops then work their way to the front – politely of course – with beautiful floral, grassy, and white grape notes. Pepper then develops to add just a slight, snappy bite. The beer finishes with nuances of lemongrass, hay, and a touch of citrus.
Mouthfeel: Just as it should be, this Pilsner is light in body with a sizable carbonation level. This allows the beer to be incredibly easy-drinking and quenching. Beautifully balanced and crisp is definitely a descriptor that needs to be used here. The beer dries out effortlessly, leaving just a trace of floral and earthy notes to linger in the aftertaste.
Final Thoughts: So, the question that we must ask here is do we have a brewery that was named to honor the Scots Irish that settled the Appalachian Mountains actually pulling off a traditional, German-style Pils? Yep, and Highland Brewing Company did much more than simply pull it off. They nailed it. We are talking about a lager possessing grain and yeast notes that are just ridiculously clean. The hops are beautifully balanced, but are still allowed enough of the stage to properly show just how dynamic and complex German hop varietals can be. The only gripe I can possibly come up with here is in wishing that the head retained a bit more of its initial size. Otherwise, every aspect of this beer fits the category and results in a highly enjoyable and flavorful Pilsner. With beers like Highland Pilsner now widely available on taps and shelves, it absolutely blows my mind that many still decide to settle for – in ordering or serving – a monotonous lager from the Big 3 without even the curiosity to try something new. That’s a topic for another day though. As far as Highland Pilsner goes, I simply cannot say enough good things. The next time you set off on a beer run fueled by a hankering for some lager refreshment, be sure to keep this one in mind. Prost!