There can only be one undistributed beer of the week. The competition is fierce in San Diego's beer community, but someone has to take the title. This week's best undistributed beer is ...
Groundswell Brewing Company & ChuckAlek Independent Breweries: Daily Pils
Pair with: Tikka Masala wings or Mexican food
A solid pilsner is something that is equally underrated and, when done right, down right delicious. When you sip on a well-made pilsner such as the Daily Pils, it's a no-brainer that there is a difference behind cared-after beers. You can taste the quality, especially since the beer is lighter and mistakes are more easily shown in beers with less additional flavors going on.
The Daily Pils is a collaboration brew that comes from Zachary Hayes, brewer at Groundswell Brewing, and Grant Fraley, brewer at ChuckAlek Independent Brewers. The beer itself takes a while to ferment and is one of the harder beers to brew, the duo explain.
"The brew process is the same as for other beers, but fermentation is much different," Hayes said. "The pilsner required a lot of temperature changes, and about a month of lager-ing. The flavor is all in the ingredients. We used floored bohemian pilsner malt which is perfect for making a pilsner (and) we also added melanoidin to bump up the body. Originally we were going to dry hop it, but after tasting it throughout lagering, the ChuckAlek team and I decided that the whirlpool addition of hops added the right amount of aroma and flavor we were looking for."
The best part about a lager or pilsner, in my opinion, is how sensitive they are to brew and how easy they are to drink. Fraley agreed, adding that it's really about being patient with fermentation, which takes two to three times longer with this beer than it does with an ale, he said. The collaboration on this brew came mostly because ChuckAlek is known for their old world styles and great lagers and pilsners, Hayes explained. This pilsner is the first that Groundswell has ever brewed.
"Grant is an awesome brewer and provided a lot of insight into the process. Plus, we really like him," Hayes said. "It's good work to brew with people you like, it's what the San Diego beer community is all about."
Fraley also said that it had to do with a friendship and respect for Groundswell's beer. What also helped allow for a pilsner that could be readily available is the recent expansion at Groundwell, which includes a bigger brewhouse, resulting in, according to Farley, a larger batch of beer then what could have been brewed at ChuckAlek.
"These days, we can hardly keep up with demand at our brewery tasting room in Ramona and Biergarten in North Park . We've also brewed a lot of lager beer and take pride in the European side of our offerings, so it was a pleasure working with Groundswell to brew their first lager," Fraley said.
The idea behind brewing a pilsner in the IPA-land of San Diego isn't really so outlandish at this point in time, especially with summertime weather (hopefully) approaching. It makes sense to have something that is easier to drink in the sun or after a beach day. It also feels as though the average San Diego beer drinker and climate of beer overall here is diverse enough to accept any style that comes their way, understanding that if it's made by one our talented local brewers, it is likely a well-made beer that deserves a chance.
I suppose that some beer-drinkers, whom may have only recently stepped away from light lagers with little-to-no-body, would be shocked to try a pick like this. Why? Well, because of the truth. You can still enjoy a light beer without sacrificing plentiful body and flavor, as evidenced in a well-crafted brew, such as the Daily Pils. It's got body, it has just enough malt characteristics coming through, and a light hop finish with a fresh floral taste.
"Craft beer drinkers are rediscovering lager and get especially excited to drink lager this time of year," Fraley said. "Pilsner should be well hopped, although much more balanced than an IPA, but most mass produced lager seems to have forgotten that. We wanted to brew a flavorful lager employing modern hopping techniques that Groundswell is well versed at. This is a perfect beer for a liter stein, but has enough flavor that a pint will intrigue your palate just as well. I love the Loral hops we used. This new American hop variety gives some of the old-world floral notes while also providing some light berry and citrus undertones."
Lagers and pilsners are in, folks. You heard it here first.
This beer is currently available at Groundswell Brewing Company, at both the Mission Valley and Santee locations. You can also find it on tap at ChuckAlek Biergarten in North Park. Get it while it's cold!
Groundswell Brewing Company, 6304 Riverdale St., Mission Valley or 10151 Prospect Ave, Santee. groundswellbrew.com
Chuck Alek Independent Brewers, 3139 University Ave., North Park. chuckalek.com
Editor's Note: Undistributed beer of the week is a series that profiles a local brew only available to try at specific locations in San Diego.