16
Aug
10

Beers of Vancouver, vol. 17

It is bloody hot* here in Vancouver.  Bloody hot weather calls for a particular kind of beer: a Czech pilsner.  So after spending the day in an air-conditioned computer lab (bloody hot weather also does wonders for my productivity — my supervisor ought to consider moving our lab to New Mexico), I stopped in at the local liquor store for some Pilsner Urquell.

Disaster!  Infamy!  Despair and ruination!  They were all out of the stuff — presumably because other people noticed the same thing I did about its suitability to bloody hot weather.

As I cast about the beer fridge for another pilsner from somewhere near Plzen, I came across a row of cans of Tree Brewing’s Kelowna Pilsner.  Now, north american pilsners have a well-deserved reputation for sucking dead bunnies through bent straws, but Tree is usually pretty reliable.  I hoisted a can and asked the beer nerd behind the counter if it was any good.

He shrugged.  “Well, Tree ought to be okay.”

I bought three.  They were cheap.  Not an auspicious sign.

The flavour text on the can describes the beer as “a crisp refreshing Pilsner with a mild hop flavour”.  One bonus point for spelling “flavour” properly.  However, describing a beer of a genre infamous for being sex in a canoe as “crisp”, “refreshing”, and “mild” is not at all auspicious.

The beer is a medium gold colour with a thin head that sticks around surprisingly long.  Its appearance seems to announce: “Hi!  I’m a north american pilsner!”  Not an auspicious sign.

Weighing against all of these portents of mediocrity is the fact that Tree tends to brew damn good beers.  This allows an absurd hope to creep in as one brings the first pint to one’s lips.

It turns out that Kelowna Pilsner is an excellent mediocre beer.  It’s almost identical, in fact, to Okanagan Springs’ 1516 lager, but where 1516 has an endearingly honest grainy flavour to it, Kelowna Pilsner has a complex and ineffable character that whispers vaguely to the palate before disappearing in the mercifully-short “Hi!  I’m a north american pilsner!” aftertaste.  If 1516 is a beige Toyota Camry slushbox, Kelowna Pilsner is a beige Toyota Camry slushbox with a brace between the front strut towers and decent summer tires.  It’s much akin to Kokanee, but without the puzzling sense of regret.

Actually, per unit volume this stuff might be cheaper than Kokanee, and it’s definitely cheaper than 1516.  I guess we can call that a victory.

——

* Yeah, I’m a wimp when it comes to heat.

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