Of Pilsners and Neck Wear.

Devils Backbone and DC Brau Beggars & Thieves Rye Lager

Devils Backbone and DC Brau Beggars & Thieves Rye Lager

Want to get the motor running of most any craft beer fan or geek?  Mention three words: new, beer, and release.  Of course, just how much his or her excitement gets revved up will be solely based upon how worthy the beer promises to be.  The sheer build up around some beers can make them attractive enough to camp out overnight in the freezing cold for.  Others are potentially worth driving across five different state lines, waiting in line for a few hours, and then plunking down a considerable portion of that week’s paycheck for.  (You hope.) These, of course, are for the most highly anticipated and sought after.  Even beer slated for possible year round, flagship style availability usually achieves a slight lift of an eyebrow, and perhaps a mental checkmark, especially if it’s from a local or well known brewery.  But try sticking one additional word into the equation – lager – and watch just how quickly you can snap the timing belt on that craft beer fan’s engine.  Not that there aren’t some tasty styles out there, thanks primarily to those Germans and Czechs.  But let’s face it.  After talking up new beer possibilities to most craft fans and geeks, and then mentioning the “L” word, and you tend to get a reaction akin to opening up your birthday present only to find a neck tie.

While many lagers may not offer the same kind of adventurous, taste bud bending trip that a huge ipa or a barrel aged stout might provide, lagers can offer plenty for the palate.  One style in particular, the one sitting over in the corner unable to talk over the Imperial IPAs in the room, is the venerable Pilsner.  Sure, this is common ground for most craft drinkers – a clean, crisp tasting experience, with plenty of room for the typical style of hops used in them, noble varieties, to shine through.  Light citrus and plenty of floral aromas and tastes, and maybe the slightest current of sweetness perhaps, are all by the book.  Some Pilsners nail the definition to the letter, and are very good while doing so.  But add another layer to the mix, perhaps some rye malt for example, and you begin to add an alternate ending to that book of Pilsners.  And while you may not be able to get the hop head with his face buried in the tulip glass to come up for air for more than a split second, there is reason to give such a beer a try, at the very least.

And such a beer just might be making its way to a couple taps around Roanoke soon.  It’s from a Virginia brewery as well, to add some always welcome homespun flavor.  Created for the recent Craft Brewers Conference that was held in Washington DC, Devils Backbone collaborated with DC Brau to create Beggars & Thieves, a rye lager (the Devils Backbone web site more specifically calls it a rye Pilsner) that was pretty well received as it made the rounds in the capital that week.  I had the opportunity to get a taste while up there, and was pleasantly surprised at first sip.  I jotted down some notes: “clean tasting, lightly hopped, tad sweet, plenty of light bread, rye spiciness, very drinkable”.  Of course, the rye spiciness is an additional layer added to the more typical Pilsner line up of qualities, and it made plenty of difference.  I usually liken the spiciness rye is supposed to add to a beer to the taste white pepper gives food.  It’s a bit hot, but not in an in your face, quick snap sort of way.  At any rate, Beggars  Thieves was all you might want from a lager – a clean, crisp tasting experience, but with enough layers to keep it interesting.  No, it might not be the 1000 IBU IPA that you’ve been on the hunt for, but there’s plenty of room in craft beer for a tasty lager like Beggars & Thieves.  So if you happen to see it soon around town, I recommend giving it a shot.  I promise, there’s no tie in the box.


~ by thebeerroad on May 3, 2013.

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