Monday, August 13, 2007

New Jersey Road Trip

Well, it really wasn't a road trip, exactly. Actually took a ferry from downtown Manhattan to The Heights in New Jersey for a family get-together. Our first stop though was a Clam Festival. Always a good time with really good clams with garlic in a butter sauce. After eating my fill I headed to the nearby VFW for a cold one.

I Can Taste The Beer Already

Those of you who regularly read my blog will remember that I have been here before. Last time I had a few beers inside but today I decided to try out their beer garden.

Beer Garden

Normally I don't expect much in the way of variety at a VFW Club. No offense, the prices can't be beat but Budweiser and Coors are usually as exotic as they get. They did have a lot of Corona though. They said one of their members actually bought it in Mexico and drove it back so they got a good price on it. The stand-out, however, and quite unexpected, was Pilsner Urquell.

Now Pilsner Urquell is a might fine beer indeed. Many will insist it is the best Pilsner beer in the world. Many people aren't sure just what a Pilsner beer is. Well, you can always count on The Bar Man to set the record straight. Well, not always. Sometimes I just make things up.

The term Pilsner has become a bit generic in that it is often used to refer to almost any lager. Lagers are a bottom fermented beer that is aged at cool temperatures. Most non-ales tend to be lagers. Ales, are top fermented and are often aged at warmer temperatures. A lot of beer terminology is used a bit loosely, even among professionals. People often associate pilsners with a lager that is a bit more carbonated than usual and perhaps a bit hoppier as well.

Strictly speaking, however, a Pilsner is a beer that comes from the Czech town of Pilsen. Think of it like Champagne. Many people call any white sparkling wine Champagne, but strictly speaking it can only come from the Champagne region of France. Pilsners are the Champagnes of lager, metaphorically speaking.

At any rate, in Czech Pilsner Urquell is called Plzensky Prazdroj. However, at the time it was created by Josef Groll in 1842, the town of Pilsen was part of the Austrian Empire and the official language was German. Pilsner Urguell translates, roughly, to "Pilsner from the original source."

Well, no matter, just let me say that Pilsner Urquell is a mighty fine beer of its style. If not the best, than certainly right up there. And on a hot day in a VFW Beer Garden, it was most welcome indeed.

Barman and his Plzensky Prazdroj

It is a very crisp refreshing beer that is a bit dry but with a bit of a floral nose and a spicy hoppiness to it. The after taste is dry with a touch of bitterness. But I mean that in a good way.

Later, at aforementioned family get-together, I had an interesting Belgian Ale, Brasserie Des Rocs Triple Imperiale. More on that next time though.