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-   -   It's Gonna Be a Showdown: Imperial Pilsnerama (http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f5/its-gonna-showdown-imperial-pilsnerama-40082/)

Evan! 09-29-2007 04:06 PM

It's Gonna Be a Showdown: Imperial Pilsnerama
On Thursday, I brought home two of the new Imperial Pilsners that we just got into the shop: Dogfish Head's Golden Era (the beer formerly known as Golden Shower until the oblivious BATF finally caught on to the obvious innuendo) and Sam Adams' Hallertau Imperial Pilsner. So last night, I thought I'd bring them head to head and see what happens...

First, here's the contenders:


What struck me the most is that DFH, an "extreme" craft brewery, was the one who filtered theirs and made it truer to style, while Sam Adams, the more mainstream of the two breweries, made an unfiltered cloudy version.


The theme carries through to the end, too. The nose on the DFH is more restrained and malty...even slightly sweet. The 9% ABV hides itself well, until 10 minutes later when you're stumbling around. The Sam Adams, on the other hand, is massively hoppy, and incredibly bitter for the style. Very surprising.

The palate on the DFH is clean and malty, and very weighty for a pilsner...but despite the fact that there's not a whole lot of precedent for this style, it really reads like an "imperial" pils. The hops are there, but it's really balanced. Incredibly restrained and subtle for a DFH imperial anything. The Sam Adams is all hops. If I were them, I wouldn't be calling this a pilsner...just a hopped-up blonde or something. There's nothing about this, other than the apparent use of pils malt, that makes it a pilsner. But that's not to say its bad...it's actually immensely enjoyable. The hops are in your face, and very spicy & fresh. The complexity is heads and shoulders above the Golden Era, and I really enjoy every sniff and every sip.

At the end of the day, these are two very different beers. DFH wins on the style front, which is very interesting given their background as an extreme brewery. The Sam Adams wins on the enjoyability factor...and their claim of an intense hop experience is warranted. There's plenty of complexity here, and I just like the beer better overall...and yes, I am a hophead.

I've got to call this one a draw. DFH made a more "correct", subtle beer, while Sam Adams made a wacky, hop-heavy pilsner, something that is almost never done...and succeeded at making a great hoppy blonde ale.

mrb 09-29-2007 09:49 PM

Thanks for the info. I didn't even know that Sam Adams made such a beer.

the_bird 09-30-2007 04:12 AM

Sounds like a complete reformulation of the DFH beer; the bottle I had (about a year ago) tasted like fruitcake-flavored cough syrup. Plus, WAY bitter, yet still unbalanced; it had very little hop flavor to cut through the cloying malt. Worst beer of my wife, I'd drink BMC all day before I touched that again. Maybe they learned!

Evan! 09-30-2007 05:58 AM

Musta been reformulated...nothing like what you say...f*ck I'm drunk

Yaboosh 09-30-2007 06:06 PM

Actually, I am going to agree with the_bird. I had the Golden Era from DFH and found it way to cloying to be enjoyable.

sause 10-02-2007 10:52 PM

I'm having the Dog Fish Head right now and I would have to agree with most of the above that it's very sweet which is the exact opposite of a pilsner style. I still have over half a 750mL left and I don't know if I can haddle drinking it.

Evan! 10-02-2007 11:29 PM

I guess I have a little bigger tolerance for sweetness than yous guys. You want sweet...120 minute...yeah.

the_bird 10-03-2007 01:47 AM


Originally Posted by sause
I'm having the Dog Fish Head right now and I would have to agree with most of the above that it's very sweet which is the exact opposite of a pilsner style. I still have over half a 750mL left and I don't know if I can haddle drinking it.

I ended up dumping it. Bottle cost me a lot of money, it was painful watching it go - but worse forcing myself to drink it :(

Yaboosh 10-03-2007 01:56 AM

It wasn't a dumper for me, but it wasn't as enjoyable as it could have been. It tasted like it had a great pilsner on top, but underneath, it was just a straight cloying taste. I feel this is a problem with many of Dogfish head's beers. Great flavor, if only they brought the FG down a couple of points more.

Rhoobarb 10-03-2007 09:19 PM

Being somewhat of a hophead and having a fiancee who is a card-carrying hophead, this 'showdown' is making me want to pick up some Sammy's HIP! Think I'll see if I can get some on the way home tonight. Might be just the thing to sip while watching the Cubs play the Snakes tonight.

Thanks for the review. And thanks a lot for sticking that damn ELO song in my brain!

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