Thursday, February 13, 2014

Sterling Premium Pils

Sterling is a beer originally made by Evansville Brewing Co. that was picked up by G. Heileman and is now it's own unique brewing company. It wasn't a super exciting brew, but luckily our boys at Upland Brewing in Bloomington are contracted to brew it for Sterling Beer Company in Louisville, KY. Upland does a great job with the reinvention of these old style beers like Champagne Velvet.

Since skunking (exposure to light that leaves a distinct skunk-like aroma and flavor) has often been a problem with Pilsners coming from Europe to America, it's great to see this one in a can. On top of the benefits to the beer, the can itself is actually the pretty cool.

This is a new type of canning that allows the drinker to peel off the top and drink straight out of the can like a glass. It is supposed to allow as much aroma to come out as a standard pint glass. I cracked it open and thought to myself, when in Rome, so I drank straight from the can.

The lip has a beveled edge that beer falls back into. Also, the opening is small, and my face is big. This made for a less than perfect drinking experience. I was worried about what would happen to the flavor, and it turns out that concern was justified. I wasn't sure if I was tasting can or just smelling can and that was making me think that I tasted it, but there was an obvious metallic note. Although the concept of drinking craft beer directly out of the can is cool, I don't know that this is the way of the future. I think that whatever metallic ju-ju I was getting was ok with a pils but would have really messed up an IPA or something else with big floral notes. If brewers keep doing this, I hope they continue to refine the process so that it works a little bit better.


Since the can was a miss for me, I poured it out into a tulip glass to get a better feel for the actual flavor of the beer. It came out a light straw yellow with about a quarter inch of head (head may have been lower because I had been drinking out of the can for a few sips). It smelled of crisp pilsner malt and grassy notes with a bit of a mineral finish. Flavor was on point for what I expect from a pils. It had a light sweetness with some grainy malt flavor. The hops were crisp and bitter with a grassy vibe that was more than pleasant, and mirrored the aroma. It had a slight minerally quality on the finish which is totally acceptable for the style. This is a nice easy drinking brew coming in at 5.3% abv, it would be an easy beer to sit down with in the summer.

I don't think this one is going to set the world on fire, but it's totally worth the drink. Sadly this bad ass can is a total miss for me. It poured out a little bit easier since it had such a large opening, but that would be its only saving grace.

I give this one a 2 out of the can but it was an easy drinking 3 once I poured it into my glass.

Professor Beer:  I really liked the unique can.  The lip didn't bother me, and it felt a lot like drinking out of an actual glass.  Also, I wasn't able to determine any difference in flavor between the can and a glass (though, admittedly, I have a very poor sense of smell which is definitely a factor).  However, I was not terribly impressed with the beer inside the can.  It is an okay pilsner, but didn't really 'wow' me. I only gave it a 2.

El Duque: The beer in the can, and the beer in the glass were completely different.  Because the can wrapped around my face like a glass, I got way too much of the metal smell, which made the nice mineral finish into an off metalic taste.  In the glass, the beer is a nice, surprisingly flavorful pilsner, but with my nose stuck in the can smelling of a chemistry lab, it came across way too hard and tasted like a Natty Ice.

The beer is easy drinking and I think its only fault is its balance.  There area lots of great flavors that have a hard time finding a real harmony in the palate.  I like that the can is so easy to pour out of, but so are aluminum bottles, so it comes across as a gimmick, not really a necessary innovation.  Give this beer to me when there is sun and warmth, and I would be completely happy. I gave it a 3.

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