Tuesday, March 17, 2009

KLASH OF THE KAISERS!

The heralded event!

A Flight of 9.....



Triumph Old City Head Brewer Patrick Jones

Pils-Jay's Way


The next event I was able to attend during that glorious time known as Philly Beer Week was the delicious -to-contemplate pilsner festival held at Triumph Brewpub in Old City, the "Klash of The Kaisers." It featured nine local pilsners, lovingly brought together to honor Jay Mission, Triumph's head brewer, a lager afficionado, a mentor to many brewers across the country and inspiration to many more, who passed away last June. Triumph Old City head brewer Patrick Jones organized the event with Lew Bryson, and even brewed a special pilsner in Mission's honor with Flying Fish brewer Casey Hughes: Pils Jay's Way, a recipe Bryson acquired from a from a former colleague of Mission's and passed on to Jones. When I arrived I got a typically loud, enthusiastic greeting and hug from Lew, a big bear handshake from Casey Hughes, and a warm welcome from Jones' girlfriend sitting nearby. She quickly ordered me a flight of the nine featured beers and off I went a-tasting: Dock Street Bohemian pilsner was reliably crisp and bracing, one of my favorite pilsners; a pilsner from Mt Airy brewpub Earth Bread & Brewery was positively weird, but in a good way, smelling of wildflowers to me (Jones' girlfriend---oh I wish I could remember her name!---said she smelled ham), and tasting fairly vegetal, I learned (from the girlfriend) that it was made with a strain of wild, funky yeast, as was the Pils Jay's Way and Triumph's German pilsner served that night. The EBB pilsner didnt really taste like a pilsner, but it was delicious, funky little beer. Next was a pilsner from McKenzie's Brewhouse in Malvern, nice and tight, tart and refreshing (it was my favorite pils of the night).

Nodding Head's offering was a real disappointment, and tasted off in a bathroomy kinda way; I dopped it after one sip. In mid-flight Triumph owner Adam Reshnitz joined our little group of imbibers, and brewer Patrick Jones joined for a while, enjoying a Pils Jay's Way from across the bar. Reshnitz, once himself Triumph's head brewer, asked to taste the Nodding Head brew, sniffed it for a few seconds, took a quick sip and handed it back. Maybe something happened in transit. Manayunk Brewery's Kellerbier was next, and it was very tasty, nuttier than any of the previous beers, with a smooth silky finish. After that I got to sample the Pils Jay's Way and at first, didn't care for it; it tasted a bit like the pilsner from EBB, but a few more sips and I grew to like it very much--my 2nd favorite brew of the night. Sly Fox's Charles Bridge pilsner was next and it was quite hoppy and tart, a good version, but not as good as their flagship Pikeland Pils. Triumph's German Pils was next, and again it had that weird yeast in it, and tasted strange to me, a bit off and vegetal, but subsequent sips had it growing on me too. Victory Brewing's Braumeister Pils finished out the flight and it was quite good, one of the two pilsners that had that bready quality I really like, rich and crusty!
And an added benefit of the night: just as I was about to leave, I finally bumped into Suzanne Woods, the locally famous Beer Lass, whose blog "I'll Have Another Stout" is one hilarious read, and one of my favorite blogs to follow. Someday we'll maybe even get to have a beer together. Well, I guess last Thursday we kinda did, for Jay.

I only met Jay Mission once, at last year's Real Ale Fest at Triumph Old City, but even then he seemed bigger than life, and a lot of fun. I'm glad I could make it for a little while to this lovely tribute to his work, his friends and his favorite kinds of beer.

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