Elm City Pilsner
6 pack. $9.39++, 5% ABV
Purchased at Connecticut Beverage Mart, New Britain
Late March 2017 Update: This beer has been revived from the dead! NEBCO is even doing a brewery release of it:
Hey folks, today we’re bringing back the long awaited Elm City Pilsner! We’ll be selling approximately 150 cases here at the tasting room. $12 per 6 pack, full case limit.
Okay, so the price jumped quite a bit in the years since its last release. Whatever. I’m just trying to remember the last time a brewery did a pilsner can release… and coming up blank. Actually, no, Back East did it for their (excellent) BOMO Pils last year, but it wasn’t meant to be an “event”. Anyway, the guy who originally brewed this, Matt Westfall, has consistently cited Elm City as his favorite of all the beers he brewed at NEBCO before opening up his own Counter Weight up the road. (My Q&A with him is here.)
I wrote the following in 2012. But I think it holds up.
Friends, family and careful readers know: I am a huge fan of New England Brewing. However, I’ll admit that many of their beers may not be for everyone. Their lineup of IPAs are not shy with the hops. Some are pretty hardcore – especially a couple of their draft only offerings.
But the pilsner is NEB’s tamest beer in many ways. After all, it’s just a 5% pils, right? Well, sorta. Since this is a NEB beer, it’s not “just a pilsner,” it’s a really, really, really good pilsner.
In fact, this is the first pilsner in my life that I said to myself, “wow! pilsners can be delicious and complex!” NEB has opened my eyes to a style I didn’t know existed: real German pilsners with body and flavor. There are discernible hops and citrus and a pleasant grassiness to this beer. It is, in a word, refreshing.
Here you have a craft brewed German Pilsner. At NEB we brew this traditional style with traditional German malt and noble hops. Clean, dry and hoppy! We protect our delicate yet flavorful pilsner by packaging it in this protective, lined can. Drink it. It’s good.
I dig that; “Drink it. It’s good.” I should just write that for all my positive reviews and be done with them. I know most people would probably like that.
Late March 2017 Update: It just occurred to me that a bunch of craft beer fans in 2017 might not know what “noble hops” are and may even think there is a type called “Noble hops.”
Well, if you care, there are four “classic” hops that fall into the “noble” category:
Hallertauer/Hallertau from Munich
Tettnanger/Tettnang from Tettnang, Germany.
Spalt – yup, also German.
Saaz which are from the Czech Republic.
So there you go… Storytime!
Time for the story of the “Elm City!” Man, it’s like you people don’t even know me.
The familiar story is that New Haven is the Elm City (NEB is on the New Haven border in the Amity section of Woodbridge now, but began in New Haven) because there are large elms lining the town green. Or along Yale’s streets. Or maybe there were and they all died from Dutch Elm Disease like most elms in America.
That’s all sort of true. New Haven was dubbed the Elm City when the first public tree planting program made it a home for many mighty American elms. Dutch Elm Disease later decimated the elm population in the mid-20th century.
Mysteriously, a few of the city’s elms survived the onslaught. Today, volunteers collect seeds and saplings from these apparently resistant elms in an effort to replant the city’s storied trees.
At this time, we don’t really know how successful the replanting will be (Dutch Elm disease is still real and really deadly), but urban gardeners all have their fingers crossed.
If you’ve never seen a mature elm tree (beyond the picture above), they are majestic and beautiful trees. And dare I make the leap to say that Elm City Pilsner is a majestic and beautiful beer?
I do dare.
Overall Rating: A
Rating vs. Similar style: A+