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Beer Reviews

Brooklyn Pilsner (Crisp Lager), 4.3% ABV

 

Strolling through the Williamsburg neighbourhood in Brooklyn, NYC is like walking through a living, breathing art gallery.

There’re old brick buildings that have seen the passage of time, now splashed with vibrant murals and graffiti. The chatter and laughter from sidewalk cafes and the occasional guitar strumming from a street musician meld with the rumbling of the subway in the background... it's a unique soundtrack you can't get anywhere else. There's also the aromas of New York pizzas and a medley of ethnic street food beckoning. And, should you find yourself on Brooklyn’s North 11th St on brewing days, you’ll be greeted by a sweet, malty fragrance emanating from the recesses of the brewery.

 

 

Brooklyn Brewery has established itself as one of the most recognisable American craft beer brands around the world. Much like Brooklyn's own working-class roots, it’s got this unpretentious and down-to-earth vibe. Its stylised ‘B’ logo totally captures that NYC feel of baseball and urban nostalgia.

 

 

And you might not be surprised to know that the logo’s designer happens to be the same person who designed the incredibly iconic INY logo that appears on every t-shirt and overpriced mug that tourists returning from New York might buy as souvenirs.

 

Milton Glaser designed the "I [Love] New York" logo. This became the face of one of the most successful tourism campaigns in history, instrumental in improving NYC's image in the 1970s when it faced economic difficulties and had a reputation of rampant crime (Source: Gareth David) 

 

Founded in 1988 by an Associated Press journalist and a banker, Brooklyn Brewery is best known for its flagship Brooklyn Lager. This isn’t your typical American macro lager like Bud Light or Miller Lite. This one harkens back to the pre-Prohibition era before the 1920s when American beers bore a closer resemblance to traditional European brews.

 

Old and new labels of the signature Brooklyn Lager. (Source: Brooklyn Brewery)

 

Brooklyn Lager is specifically made after the Vienna amber lager, which gives it richer, bolder flavours, rich in malt, toffee, caramel and a good hoppy kick to it. Thanks to the Brooklyn Lager, from the 1990s Brooklyn Brewery stood out as a brewery that helped to revive and redefine the American Lager style during the early days of the American craft beer movement. It's a reminder to folks that says “Hey, you can’t believe this is what American Lager used to taste like!”

In 2016, Brooklyn Brewery made some big moves. They partnered up with Kirin – the big Japanese beer and spirits giant – who bought a 24.5% stake in Brooklyn. Plus, they expanded their global footprint by partnering with Carlsberg to distribute Brooklyn’s beers in Europe and parts of Asia. In 2017, Brooklyn Beer was officially launched in Singapore.

 

The taproom at Brooklyn Brewery (Source: Brooklyn Brewery)

 

The beer range continues to evolve and expand over the years. Last November, the brewery launched its new Brooklyn Pilsner, which comes in a bit lighter at 4.6% ABV and is said to have a crisp clean lager taste. 

 

 

I took a look at the bright canary label and I find they’re pretty upfront about where it’s made too, which I appreciate. This Asian market bottling was brewed in Brooklyn Brewery’s China brewing facility. It’s an unsurprising arrangement in the beer industry. Breweries often practice local or regional brewing to ensure the beer remains fresh when it reaches the consumer. Makes all the more sense for craft beers due to its unfiltered nature and shorter shelf life.

Let’s give this a taste.

Brooklyn Pilsner - Crisp Lager, 4.6% ABV – Review

Appearance: Light gold yellow, lightly hazy.

Nose: Harmoniously balanced, both refreshing and rich characteristics. Initially a little mellow but distinct, gradually opening with steamed barley with a light maltiness. There’s also some light fresh fruits, beginning first with slightly grassy-sweet honeydew melons, then tropical yellow fruits – mango jelly or mango pudding, along with some emergent hoppiness that taken together reminds me of sweet grapefruits with a hint of its bitter skin.

Palate: Refreshing and zesty and leans towards a satisfying medium body; not too heavy and not too light – just right in the middle. Right off the bat you get hit by a strong citrus flavour, a real zing of lemon zest, followed closely by grapefruit as the zinginess gradually dissipates. A bit of mango flavour again – mainly the aromatics and flavour but not the typical sweetness of mangoes. It gradually turns towards these subtle yeastiness and sourdough bread notes that make it all come together.

Finish: Clean and swift, leaving a mellow aftertaste of barley and subtle hints of some straw. There’s a light grassiness to it and a slight hoppiness finally shows up in the aftertaste, revealing a fresh and herbaceous finale.

 

My Thoughts:

The Brooklyn Pilsner is effortlessly drinkable, well-balanced and pretty flavourful. It’s very sessionable given its lower ABV, but it’s still fairly flavourful with minimal hop presence, which caters to a broad audience and makes it an excellent choice for those who find traditional lagers too bitter for their liking. The only people who might have a bone to pick are hopheads who enjoy more bitter traditional beers or IPAs, though I think hop-preference is really matter of personal preference, not quality.

For me, the intense citrus peak at the start is particularly appealing. So this feels like a nod to Asian consumers, who often enjoy lighter dry beer or dry sake – a preference famously discovered by beer marketers in Japan. This vibrant citrus notes and its refreshing quality also make it a fantastic pairing for oily or hearty foods, like roast pork, fried chicken or laksa.

Rating: 7/10

Score/Rating Scale :

  • 9-10 : Exceptional, highly memorable, 10/10 would buy if I could.
  • 7-8 : Excellent, well above most in its category, worth considering buy-zone.
  • 4-6 : Good, okay, alright; a few flaws, but acceptable; not bad, but not my personal preference; still worth trying, could be a buy if the price is right.
  • 1-3 : Not good; really did not enjoy; wouldn't even recommend trying.
  • 0 : Un-scored, might be damaged, new make, or very unusual.

@CharsiuCharlie