It's been an unusually cool spring, but the warm weather has to come soon. While I'd love nothing more than to just chill on the deck when the weather is nice, the yard beckons. A confession: I hate yard work, especially mowing. Perhaps that's why my yard has more dirt than grass. And while my landscape technique could best be described as unclaimed wilderness, I try to do just enough cutting and pruning to avoid the neighborhood's unrelenting wrath. So this Saturday I'll spend a couple of hours working up a sweat and a thirst for something cool and refreshing. For me that's a light and lovely lager. Here are a couple of offerings new to the Boise brew scene, plus an old favorite.
Estrella Damm Lager
Unlike American macro lagers, the Estrella has a decent frothy head that hangs on for awhile. The malt flavors are lightly sweet but they are nicely backed by balancing hops. There's a pleasant bit of bitterness from start to finish with a subtle herbaceousness (like new-mown grass?) along with touches of citrus and spice. The finish has some grip and the carbonation is not overdone, which is just what you want in a thirst quenching quaff. They've been brewing this lager in Barcelona since 1886 and it's nice to see it in the Boise market.
Tyskie Gronie Lager
This new-to-the-valley Polish entry has been around almost four centuries. It pours a pale gold with a nice egg white-colored head. The hops trump the smooth and grainy malt on the palate with accents of vanilla and orange zest. Very dry and lightly bitter on the finish with lively carbonation, but still not so much as to discourage generous swallows. Both these brews beat the American industrial lagers when it comes to taste, but they are still designed for easy drinking rather than contemplation or reflection. The perfect after-work or weekend brews.
Czechvar Premium Lager
The original from the city of Ceske Budejovice (from which America's Budweiser drew its name) has a history going back more than 700 years. It has been know as Budweiser Budvar in the rest of the world but lawsuits kept it out of the states until the name change. This is a benchmark for the style: silky smooth, perfectly balanced, layers of flavor (creamy malt, heady hops, hints of herbs, grapefruit and lime, both sturdy and refreshing) with a crisp, dry, ultimately refreshing finish. In an "if you can't beat them, join them" move, Anheuser-Busch, recognizing a great brew when they tasted one, acquired import rights for Czechvar in the country.