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Beer Reviews

Prima Pils

Victory Brewing Co.
Downingtown, PA
USA
http://www.victorybeer.com

Style: Pilsener
ABV: 5.3%

Nigel’s Rating:
one beerone beerone beerone beerone beer   (Outstanding within its style.)


Comments:
Pair With:
• Bass
• Brats
• Cod
• Crab
• Lobster
• Oysters
• Salami
• Salmon
• Salsa
• Shrimp
Apparently, Nigel carries the Victory flame here at BeerDorks.com. This would mark my fifth review for this excellent brewery in southeastern Pennsylvania, which, when combined with the Victory reviews of my fellow Dorks, would make for a site grand total of … five. I guess Nigel is the only one who can taste Victory.

With summer upon us, I figured it was a good time to review my first pilsener of the year. While this traditional Bohemian style isn’t necessarily one of my favorites, I tend to enjoy some fine craft versions as the weather warms. This is a style that desperately needed a boost from the craft beer industry, as the common perception was that pilseners were basically watered-down macro swill. While some pilseners do still unfortunately perpetuate that stereotype, craft brewers have done an excellent job reconnecting with the pilsener's roots, and, in many cases, improving upon them.

A true Bohemian pilesner isn’t some watered-down, flavorless weakling; on the contrary, it has a decent Noble hop profile, a mild, sweet malt backbone, some light fruity elements, and decent body. The watered-down American macro version came about with the influx of German immigrants in the late 19th/early 20th centuries, followed by the onset of Prohibition, the repeal of which that brought us the infamous “3.2” beers. These lame lagers gave the style a bad name, and the image of these shitty versions are still prevalent in the minds of many American drinkers. Fortunately, European brewers maintained the initial essence of the pilsener, and the ingenuity of American craft brewers has put an added twist on it.

Victory’s Prima Pils is a perfect example of this. If you’re wondering what Victory’s pilsener concept is, all you need to do is look at the bottle: a giant hop cone graces each one. The heavy use of hops by Victory doesn’t surprise me, as most of the brews I’ve had from them thus far are loaded with the finest of all ingredients (see Hop Devil and Hop Wallop, as well as the surprisingly hoppy Storm King Imperial Stout). It amazes me just how warped the American take on the pilsener was until recently, as this, like many other craft versions, tastes nothing like what I always assumed a pilsener tasted like. Ignorance is bliss, and hopefully the perpetuation of that ignorance by the Big Three will begin to crack as more and more people are exposed to what true pilseners are meant to taste like.

Prima Pils pours with a fluffy white head that overflows the glass if you're not careful. The pillowy head steadily recedes, leaving a distinct film at the top of the glass throughout the drink and some nominal stickiness. A cloudy golden brown hue with decent carbonation, Prima Pils proves its worth when compared to older American pilsners with a quick glance: it’s a much deeper, hazier appearance than the see-through bright yellow American macro. Grassy aromas typical of Noble hops dominate, as does some light two-row and pale malt. A light zip of citrus is also present (lemon, grapefruit, and orange zest), giving this a distinct, yet still mild, aroma.

The taste is wonderful; Prima Pils is aptly named, as this is one of the premium pilseners available anywhere, a true testament to the original Bohemian style. Initial flavors provide both a mild, grassy tinge and a light, citrusy zip. Noble hops are in perfect harmony with the rest of the ingredients, as the grassier European hop blends flawlessly with light pale malt. While there is a noticeable earthiness, it’s mild enough that this remains super light. The hops provide a piney, citrusy bite in the form of grapefruit and orange peel, as well as a slight bitter touch, while the malt gives it a slight sugary sweetness in the form of caramel and light brown sugar. While fuller in body than many pilsners, Prima Pils maintains the standard light, crisp characteristics, as it goes down smooth and can be described as “quenching.” With a mild 5.3 percent ABV and a flavor that is good but not overwhelming, Prima Pils is a primo example of a tasty summer session brew.

As I raise my glass following another successful Victory (ugh … no more puns), I must say that the more tasty pilseners I experience, the more I learn to appreciate the style. It’s a great beer that was nearly ruined by Big Beer in America, which produced brews that claimed to be pilseners but were nothing like the real thing. Victory brews are widely distributed, especially Prima Pils, and typically run $7-$10 for a six pack. If you’re looking for a refreshing brew for the summer months, be sure to give it a shot.

Cheers!

Reviewed by Nigel Tanner on June 9, 2008.
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