Monday, April 19, 2010

East Coast Brewing, part 2

A follow-up item to East Coast Brewing ...

John Merklin and Brian Ciriaco, the two guys behind the planned contract-brewing enterprise, extended an invitation last week to come to their Point Pleasant office to taste a pilot batch of their Classic American Pilsner, the pre-Prohibition lager that forms the foundation of their Beach Haus brand.

The beer, hopped with Horizon and Mount Hood, was homebrewed three months ago on an upscale, 15-gallon hobby system by Tom Przyborowski, who has been providing consulting help to Merklin and Ciriaco (that's John in the dark blue hoodie and Brian holding a copy of Mid-Atlantic Brewing News). Filtered and bottled with a counterpressure filler, the brew represents their vision of what they want produced by their hired brewer, Genesee Brewing in Rochester, N.Y. (The brewery also produces beer under contract for Boston Beer Company; it changed its name from High Falls back to Genesee last year.)

Here's what can be said about Beach Haus Classic American Pilsner: It's definitely a respectable turn on a pilsner, a little beefier and deeper in color than what you might expect from the style (think of something trending toward Vienna lager). It was certainly full-bodied, with a hop presence in the finish. It's impressive, too, since as a homebrewer Tom enjoys creating wits and other Belgian styles. This recipe marks his first efforts with a lager.

It's worth pointing out these details, since in some craft beer enthusiast circles, when you say contract-brewed pilsner (or even just pilsner), the image of fizzy yellow beer instantly comes to mind for some folks. And amid the popularity of big beers, like hop-bomb double IPAs and Belgian styles that can stretch your palate, a pils can easily get shouted down.

But to their credit, John and Brian's brew seeks to be heard.

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