“Oooh ninety-nine bottles of beer on the wall, ninety-nine bottles of beer! Take one down, pass it around, ninety-eight bottles of beer on the wall!”
Good morning ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls. Everybody knows the classic ninety-nine bottles of beer on the wall game. While it’s a great drinking activity to enjoy with friends and family alike, please, in light of the recent swine flu scare, do not play this or other bottle- or cup-sharing games. This has been a public service announcement.
Alright, now that I’ve done my good deed for the day, let’s get down to business — the business of pleasure. After all, that’s what beer makers are in, are they not? They are in the business of pleasing the mouth or, what I like to call, “oral pleasure.” When in search of proper oral pleasure, one must expand one’s horizons and look through even the farthest beer aisle at the liquor store. It was in this aisle that I came across Stiegl, a self-proclaimed maker of “world classic beer.”
If you remember last week’s column, you might recall that I had promised to appeal to the seeming masses and try a lager style beer, particularly a pilsner. As I cannot tell a lie, I have kept that promise. In fact, I went above and beyond. I have selected two different beers from Austrian beer-maker, Stiegl: the Pils, and the curious, yet enticing, Radler Lemon.
But first, here’s a little history. While looking for information on Stiegl and its beers, I came across their Web site, which had this to say: “Elegantes, schlankes Pils, hell in der Farbe, mit herrlichem Schaum und dem Bukett von feinstem Saazer Hopfen.”
Of course, this was none too helpful, as I haven’t taken German since high school. But, using my uncanny ability to figure out foreign languages, and with a tiny bit of help from the English version of stieglbrauerei.at, I was able to decipher its meaning. As it turns out, it translates roughly into: “A noble pils of golden color with a wonderful head and an excellent clean, crisp bouquet from using only the finest Saaz hops.”
Saaz hops are hops from the Czech Republic, somewhat near the city of Pilsen, Bohemia, where the Pilsner was born. This hop is known for its mildly spicy aroma and also mild flavor, two key aspects of a pilsner. The Saaz hop is one of four “noble” hops, which are known for being low in bitterness and high in aroma.
The page goes on to say: “Stiegl-Pils is ideal to quench thirst.” This statement made the most sense to me out of any, as I can’t help but describe it as a bit… watery. Of course, this is a trait that I find is common throughout many lager-style beers.
Also according to the site, the Pils has an original gravity (roughly meaning the density of the pre-fermentation wort, which determines the amount of sugar that can be changed into alcohol) of 11.6 degrees, which is relatively low. It also has a bitterness of 30 EBU (European Bitterness Unit), which is relatively low- to mid-ranging. The combination of these two mild ratings along with the mild aroma and taste of the Saaz hops, made for quite the mild beer with 4.9 percent alcohol by volume (ABV).
In brief conclusion, this is a light, refreshing beer with that Saaz hoppiness. It isn’t a favorite of mine, but if you’re looking for a nice crisp beer to go along with some fish or poultry, it’s a good pick.
Finally, we get to the wild card, the mystery brew — the Radler Lemon. “Radler,” according to Stiegl, translates into “biker.” The beer was apparently created for the biker traveling around Austria who needed a refreshing beer without the heavy alcohol, and at 2.5 percent ABV, this drink should do the trick. This is not actually a lemon-flavored beer, but rather it is half Goldbräu, and half lemon soda. This makes for quite the refreshing beverage. As you can imagine, it is rather sweet, a little bitter, and to be honest, it’s downright tasty.
Well, as I wrap up this tasting and the column to go with it, I reflect back on the experience. I have to say that overall, the running theme throughout this column is refreshing. These two beers are mild and light. These will make great beers for the summer, or for later this month if we have another January heat wave (fingers crossed).
Next week, I will be upping the excitement by leaving my living room for the tastings! I will be traveling to a local provider of everybody’s favorite refreshment to take some samples and to learn a bit more about the brewing process. What I discover and what I learn, I will bring back and share with you. Can’t wait? Neither can I. But we’re just going to have to.
And lastly, don’t drink and drive. Yes, I am talking to you. No, you can’t walk a straight line. No, you’re not invincible. No, you can’t out-run the cop car. Well, maybe the bike cop. Yeah, probably the bike cop, but it’s still not a good idea.