Reviews, Commentary and Opinions on Midwest Craft Beer and Microbreweries


Beer Reviews

Honey Pils

South Shore Brewery
Ashland, WI

Style: Pilsener
ABV: 5.8%

Nigel’s Rating:
one beerone beerone beerone beerone beer   (Recommended)

Pair With:
• Bass
• Brats
• Cod
• Crab
• Lobster
• Oysters
• Salami
• Salmon
• Salsa
• Shrimp
Welcome to Nigel Beer Review XXI, fellow Beer Dorks. Why the Roman numerals? In case ya'll are living in a cave, it's Super Bowl week, and two Midwestern teams, the Chicago Bears and Indianapolis Colts, will be butting heads on South Beach this Sunday to figure out once and for all who the greatest team in the history of professional sports is. Or, to put it another way, two mediocre teams who happened to be slightly better than their watered-down competition this year will play the most over-hyped "game" of the year. Either way, it's a good excuse to drink a few craft brews in front of the TV on Sunday, even if you end up flipping to Cartoon Network halfway through the first quarter because the game is so pathetic. Does anyone else miss the good ol' days when REAL teams, like the 49ers, Cowboys, and Broncos (late 90's version) actually made for a compelling game because you knew the champion was truly the best team, and you could count on great performances from players like Montana, Rice, Lott, Young, Aikman, Smith, Elway, and Davis? Pretty sure the New Orleans Saints almost made it this year, just like the Seattle Seahawks did last year (until that game, I had no idea Seattle even had a football team). On the plus side, should the Colts win Sunday, Peyton Manning will be donning a t-shirt, as we are the last thing in America he has not yet endorsed--it's our turn!

My latest review may seem a bit out of character for Hophead Nigel, the brawny Englishman who prefers ballsy, powerful beers. My God, its a flippin' Pilsner! Isn't that your standard American macro? Well, yes, but this beer is no macro, and I chose it for a reason. I have to confess, Nigel feels somewhat bad about his last review, which was for New Glarus Coffee Stout. You may remember that I went on a rather long-winded rant (a Nigel trademark) about how much I hate the cold weather, and along the way, I may have offended a few people. Therefore, I would now like to offer my standard celebrity read-it-right-off-the-publicist's-sheet apology to the following groups: Snowmobilers, Skiers, Ice Fishermen, Wisconsin Snow Cows, and all members of the Squirrel community. In an effort to control my anger, I chose to review a beer that reminds me of summer and will help me forget about the dirty, dirty whore known as winter that lingers right outside my door, the same winter that makes me SO DAMN ANGRY!!! The theory here is that my first sip of South Shore Brewery's Honey Pils will bring me back to my happy place, the place where Nigel kicks back on warm summer days next to the shores of a pristine Northwoods lake, far from civilization and without a care in the world. Of course, that same lake is probably covered in two feet of ice and that rustic cabin is buried under an avalanche of snow, and... hold up Nigel, get control of yourself. Happy place... happy place.

I first picked up a sixer of Honey Pils two summers ago at a Northwoods good beer retailer which, fortunately for Nigel, is only a few miles from his rustic getaway (probably the only reason I return every summer). I was unfamiliar with South Shore, a brewpub in the small northern Wisconsin town of Ashland, which, for those of you who are unfamiliar with geography, is at the very top of the earth, also know as the south shore of Lake Superior (the north shore is on Mars--more commonly known as Canada). It wasn't so much that I was interested in drinking a Pilsner, but rather the idea of sampling a new brew from a new brewery. The only other South Shore selection available at the time was Rhoades Scholar Stout, which doesn't exactly appeal on an 80 degree June day. I brought the Honey Pils back to the cabin, cracked one open while dipping my feet in the lake, and damn--it was a really good beer. My trips north ever since have typically involved a few Honey Pils during the warm afternoons as I lounged on the dock, soaking in the peaceful surroundings. Nigel needs his moments of Zen on occassion. This past summer, Honey Pils appeared at Nigel's local good beer retailer, an event that was met with much celebration.

Fast forward to the present time. It has been a few months since I've tasted a Honey Pils, as it is strictly a summer brew in my opinion, but Nigel is willing to do anything to bring back memories of summer, so here we go. The beer pours beautifully, a perfect made-for-TV pilsner pour, with good carbonation leading to a nice white head that is only slightly smaller then its commerical brethren. The head lingers a bit, with many a bubble tingling the side of the glass, making for a picture perfect lace. The color in the glass is very nice--a perfect golden brown, slightly darker than a commercial pilsner, with a tad bit of cloudiness. The smell is what got to me first. Unlike any honey-based brew I've ever had before, you could actually smell the sweet honey during the pour--it was by far the dominant aroma. The taste is best described as refreshing; it's obviously a light beer, typical for a pilsner (though MUCH more body than that watered down shit produced by the evil macros), and loads of pure Wisconsin honey, adding a unique sweetness unlike any I've ever sampled. There are plenty of craft brews that claim to use honey in order to create a "sweet, refreshing light beer", but none, and I mean NONE, capture that flavor like South Shore does. It goes down smooth and crisp, making it one of the few beers that could actually quench your thirst on a warm day. The aftertaste is very mild, certainly not enough to ruin the brats cooking on the grill or the marshmallows roasting over the campfire. This is a beer that is just as refreshing straight out of the bottle as it is in the glass, so it's perfect for picnics, tailgating, fishing (if you're into that type of thing), or cutting wood on a hot day (don't laugh--Nigel actually did this Memorial Day weekend while drinking an ice cold Honey Pils--no injuries to report). While I'll admit it doesn't have the same effect in January when you know the first step outside will result in -10 degree wind chills, South Shore Honey Pils is nonetheless a refreshing light beer that will make you dream of summer regardless of the conditions. Cheers!

Reviewed by Nigel Tanner on January 31, 2007.
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