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Episode 12: Revolver Brewing Long-Range Pils

We start season two with a bang. We drink Long-Range Pils from Revolver Brewing. We discuss southern accents, Jude Law, our semester abroad, and our 1000 download contest on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.

But who cares about that we talked to Grant Wood, co-founder and head brewer at Revolver Brewing! We talked about his brewing career, his inspiration for Long-Range Pils, and how he, serendipitously, created Blood and Honey.

How cool is that?! Well our moms think it's cool.

Music for the show:

Evil Eye/ The Stranger Rides Tonight by Daddy Long Legs is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 License.

Bottle of Beer by simon_mathewson is licensed under a Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike License.

Show Notes:

What is a pilsner?

  1. Originate from Bohemia in the Czech Republic (or Plzen, Bohemia – pre-Czech Republic)

  2. Medium to medium-full bodied and are characterized by high carbonation and tangy Czech varieties of hops that impart floral aromas and a crisp, bitter finish.

  3. German pilsner styles are similar, though often slightly lighter in body and color.

  4. Dense, white head.

  5. Typically, around 5% ABV.

  6. Classic pilsners are thoroughly refreshing, but they are delicate and must be fresh to show their best. Few beers are as disappointing to the beer lover as a stale pilsner. Great pilsners are technically difficult to make and relatively expensive to produce.

  7. “Imperialized Pilsners” - characteristics, generally alcohol and hops, bumped up sufficiently to constitute a new style, but with a familiar profile. These new imperial pilsners may sacrifice pilsner’s famed delicacy, but they retain the floral aromas and dry, bitter finish of their progenitor style.


History of the Pilsner – Began with a River of Bad Beer

Plzen - Where Beer Runs In The Streets

In 1838 the citizens of Plzen (Pilsen), Bohemia (now the Czech Republic) saw something that would make any beer lover cringe. The town's brew masters rolled 36 barrels of ale out into the street, opened them up, and spilled the beer in the main square.

Beer ran into the ditches and finally into the nearby Radbuza River.

The brewers had decided that the ale had become undrinkable. Even the breweries of Plzen with over 800 years of brewing experience, had contamination issues to contend with. Ales were prone to spoilage either by wild yeasts or bacteria.

A New Beginning

This time, though, would be different. The brewers gathered after watching their work run down the street and decided to take drastic measures so this would not happen again.

By this time, brewers in Bohemia and across Europe had learned the importance of yeast in the brewing process. There was some debate about whether fermentation was a living process or the by-product of the death of yeast. There was, however, no question that this mysterious little life form had a big effect on the character of a beer.

They hired Josef Groll, a Bavarian brewer, to come to Plzen and teach them the German lagering method of brewing.

Legend holds that in 1840 a monk smuggled some of the precious lager yeast out of Bavaria.

Whether this is the case or not, when Groll arrived in Plzen there was a supply of lager yeast available. He also found a nearby source of excellent Saaz hops, a Noble variety that he would have been familiar with in Germany.

The brewers of Plzen also had a well that supplied very soft water. With caverns carved for lagering in the local sandstone, the stage was set for lager brewing.

A New Recipe

Using light barley that was only partially malted and none of the roasted or smoked barley that the German brewers were using, Groll added generous portions of the fragrant Saaz hops to his brew. On October 5, 1842, he and the other brewers of Plzen gathered for their first taste of the new beer.

A New Beer

When they tapped the cask, they saw a beer unlike any other that they or anyone else in the world had seen.

The color of straw, it was light and clear. One could see right through it to the other side of the Bohemian crystal glass. Still, cool from the lagering tunnels, this was a surprisingly refreshing beer, not dark and heavy like the ales that they were used to.

The brewers of Plzen knew that they had a great new beer here. Thanks to the Radbuza River, not only did news of this new beer from Bohemia spread, but so did a lot of the beer itself. Plzen, or Pilsner, beer was born.

Many Copies, One Original

Since then, Pilsner Urquell has become one of the most copied beers in history. So much so that the brand name Pilsner became the name of the new style.

Aside from improvements brought about through advances in refrigeration and sanitation, little has changed about the way that Pilsner is brewed. There are many variations on the recipe but most contain lightly kilned malt and Noble hops varieties, usually Saaz.

Often, breweries will soften water from their local sources in an attempt to replicate the naturally occurring soft water of the Plzen brewery. Doing so enhances the delicate flavors of the grain.

Other variations have been made to cut costs as breweries allow the bottom dollar to dictate. Such changes include replacing part of the barley with rice. Rice is cheap and contributes little flavor or aroma to the brew.

With the flavors contributed by the barley, the balancing hops can also be cut to drive costs even lower. The result is a beer with an equal amount of alcohol but less flavor and aroma, making it seem watery when compared to other 100% barley pilsners.

Though the breweries that produce these beers continue to call them pilsner, some have assigned a new style category to describe them – American Light.


Notable Pilsners

  1. Miller Lite? Hmmm

  2. North Coast Scrimshaw

  3. Austin Beerworks Pearl Snap Pils

  4. Sam Adams Noble Pils

  5. St Arnold 5 O’Clock Pils - Houston

  6. Real Ale Hans’ Pils – Blanco

Revolver Long-Range Pils

German-Style Pilsner

ABV: 4.8% / IBU: 28 / SRM: 4 / OG: 12 ˚P / SG: 1.01182

A traditional German-style lager with an American accent. Brewed with 2-row pale malt and hopped with German Saphir, Czech Saaz, and American Mosaic.

Click the picture for a link to the show.

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