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Two New Pils

Until the 1800s, most brew was made using top fermentation with ale yeasts that work quickly and quite well in warmer temperatures. Bottom-fermented beer got its start some 500 hundred years ago in Germany with lager yeast that loves cooler temperatures but takes longer to work its magic. The Bavarians perfected the technique producing a uniquely flavorful brew with improved clarity. The folks in Pilsen in today's Czech Republic grabbed hold of the Bavarian model around 1840, combining their remarkably soft water with the local Saaz hops to produce the golden-hued brew that is one of the world's most popular and most refreshing. Here are a couple of new arrivals that pay homage to the original Pilsner:

Lagunitas Pils

California's Lagunitas makes one of the best IPAs around. They've turned their attention to Pilsner with equal success. Bright and golden with a thin, cream-colored froth on top. Sweet grass and soft malt on the nose with a nice kiss of citrusy hops. The flavors are utterly refreshing but offer a nice level of complexity—fruity hops that turn pungent on the finish, touches of grapefruit, hazelnut and spice all backed by smooth and creamy malt. It definitely lives up to the moniker "Czech Style Pilsner."

Bamberger Mahr's Brau Pilsner

The Franconia region of Germany has over 200 breweries, the densest concentration in the world. The city of Bramberg alone has 10, Mahr's Bräu being one. Their Pilsner is a light-colored, slightly hazy brew that stylistically is a bit reminiscent of a hefe-weizen, with Citrus-laced hop aromas, fresh straw and bread dough on the nose. The dry malt flavors lean toward cereal grain and grass with smooth Saaz hops throughout. Crisp grapefruit and lemon zest come through on the finish making this an invigorating choice with which to brace against the lingering summer heat.

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