New Glarus Brewing
For fans of traditional Bohemian Pilsner, Hometown Blonde is a beer that meets expectations with its light, crisp flavor, yet with body and a light malty character in the background. This seasonal release by New Glarus Brewing is a nice beer to transition into the sweeter, heavier brews of fall.
What is it? Hometown Blonde from New Glarus Brewing Company of New Glarus, Wisconsin.
Style: The pilsner is the most popular style of beer in world. New Glarus describes Hometown Blonde as a Bohemian-style Pilsner (also called a Czech Pilsner). The beer is medium-bodied with a rich golden to dark amber color. It's known as a clean-tasting lager with moderate bitterness and aroma from German Noble hops. Expect some light maltiness with toasted and biscuit like tones, but overall, this beer is well balanced. The style dates back to the 1840s.
The traditional Bohemian Pilsener is subtly distinguished from the German Pilsner by its slightly more assertive flavors; the traditional use of darker Czech malts give it a little more body and color. American Pilsners are generally lighter in color and flavor than either. Bohemian Pilseners range in alcohol from 4% to 5% ABV.
Background: Hometown Blonde was first made by New Glarus Brewing in 2007. Brewmaster Dan Carey says its creation was inspired by his travels in Europe during the 1980s. The beer is made with only Noble hops: Tettnanger, Saaz, Styrian Golding, and Strisselspalt. The blend gives Hometown Blonde crisp, even herbal and grassy notes, with a light bitterness at 33 IBUs (International Bitterness Units). The beer takes about six weeks to make and is naturally carbonated from traditional krausening, a process that adds fresh wort and yeast during fermentation that helps keep the flavor clean and crisp.
New Glarus Hometown Blonde started appearing in late summer, and should remain on shelves through October. It is sold in six-packs for around $8.50.
- Aroma: A light, but firm floral-herbal hoppiness.
- Appearance: Clear, bright golden and bubbly. A medium, soft, white head.
- Texture: Medium-bodied and bubbly.
- Taste: Begins with a light maltiness that quickly becomes clean and sharp, with a light, but firm dry bitterness.
- Finish/Aftertaste: Very clean, with a lingering dryness.
Glassware: Serve it cold (below 40 degrees) in a pilsner glass to appreciate the beer's color, effervescence and crisp flavor.
Pairs well with: This is a very versatile beer -- it complements flavors from fish to chicken to beef. It's a good palate cleanser between courses, but doesn't compete with aggressive spices.
Rating: Four Bottle Openers (out of four)
The Verdict: I tend to be pretty picky about pilsners. Too often they're all pop and fizz, with flavor that has little staying power on the palate. But New Glarus Hometown Blonde pushed my perception of pilsners to another level, and actually left me with a twinge of excitement for what a good pilsner can be. Its light but firm malty underpinnings blend with the crisp herbal and spicy hop tones, with a touch of dryness, to make a bright and very flavorful beer that lets you know it's made with both malt and hops; that distinguishes it from many other good, but in the end, just average pilsners.