Lager, Lager, Lager, Shouting: Thornbridge Italia & Leeds Bierkeller
For the purposes of a leaving do and a birthday party, I went to Leeds Bierkeller twice this week. Thursday night was fine: a quiet night in the bar as there was no band on, I was able to talk with friends and try some of the different beers, of which I decided that Früh Kölsch (not a lager) and Flensburger Pilsener (which was) were my own favourites. There was a delicate floral hoppiness in the Flensburger which was more interesting than most of the various Paulaners.
In accordance with the standard practice, many of the girls (excluding Kate) opted for the Belgian fruit beers, with many enjoying the draft Rosarda. The waitresses in short dirndels, however, may or may not be to their tastes.
Friday night was very different: with the band on, the bar was bunged by 9 O’Clock, and one’s enjoyment of the event depends very much on whether you enjoy a Northern English band leading everyone in drinking songs, synchronised swaying, and being encouraged to stand on your seat (essentially the rules require that you absolutely must not stand on the table but you pretty much have to stand on the bench). There was at least one stag do in, which is probably the market being targeted, really.
The band were good at what they did, however. An example of one of their medleys went as follows:
Hitler Has Only Got One Ball > Yellow Submarine > She’s Got A Lovely Bunch Of Coconuts > Lily The Pink > The Can Can > Oggy Oggy Oggy! Oi Oi Oi! > Ein Prosit.
If I had one particular criticism of the Bierkeller it’s that the televisions everywhere (above and around the bar, the little ones above the urinals) should probably be switched to something other than Sky News when all this is going on. It’s difficult to get really into bawdy German drinking songs whilst the death tolls of anti-government protestors in Libya and Bahrain are constantly revised upwards on the big screen.
I should be clear that I’m not one of those people who liked pilsner before being converted to “real ale”; I always actively disliked pilsners, preferring Guinness and other nitrokegged stouts and even watery smoothflow beers such as Caffreys and Tennents Velvet. That’s not to say that, given no other option, I won’t happily drink a Peroni, Stella or Mahou in a restaurant, but it tends to be a last resort.
However, on Saturday I found myself buying pilsner again, as Beer Ritz had Thornbridge Italia in. According to the label, it’s a collaboration with Maurizio Folli of Birrifico Italiano, made with Hallertau Northern Brewer, Perle and Spalter Select hops. I thought it would probably go well with curry.
Pouring a very pale blond, it had a fresh lemongrass smell and a light, sharp, slightly grassy floral taste. There was a small amount of the usual pilsner biscuitiness in there, which carried through into a building, light citrus bitterness in the aftertaste. As Reluctant Scooper notes, there’s a lot going on in there for a pilsner, although it remains a light, refreshing beer.
I think it’s an excellent example of the style, it’s just that it’s not a style of beer that I particularly like. Much as I love Thornbridge, it’ll probably be a while before I get this again. However I would probably pick it over most other pilsners.