Last Friday I had some things to finish up around the house so I stopped into Stateline with the thought of picking up one or two new beers for the weekend, plus a six pack of something to sip on while I toiled away. As I paced up and down the cooler row it was plain to see that the summer beers had firmly landed. Carriers after carriers promised smiling suns, hot days, and good beer that goes with both. Since it was almost impossible to escape them, I knuckled under and picked up a six of Troegs‘ Sunshine Pils. Let’s taste.
Them: This beer is text book pilsner. The beer begins with a mixture of pilsner and crystal malts on top of which is built a hop profile with Saaz and Hallertau Mitt, both of which are classis pilsner/lager hops. Sunshine Pils is bittered to 45 IBUs and fermentation with a lager yeast takes the beer down to 4.5% ABV.
ME: Classic golden pilsner color with nice white head. The beer looks great. Aroma is pretty tight to style as well, grassy, a touch of noble hops with an under laying malt base. The flavor is very uncomplicated, which in this case is spot on, with malt in the front, a touch of grass, hint of hop and some light pepper notes in the back. Slight bite from the hops but nothing harsh. Well balanced, not overly carbonated. Nice.
Troegs says on their website that Sunshine Pils has a”kicked-up hop character”. And why not? After all their style competitor is the dreaded Miller Triple-Hopped brewed Miller Lite. And Troegs doesn’t have a vortex bottle to fall back on! But hop talk must always be approached with an eye towards style. Is it American Pale Ale kicked up? No, but it is Miller Lite kicked up, and in fact it was as I was enjoying my third Pils (the beer was REALLY the only thing getting finished at my house on Friday) that I realized that what I had in my hand could indeed be a very excellent transition beer for non-craft beer drinkers.
Zac over at Beer is My Church has made it his personal goal to “Convert(ing) beer drinkers to craft beer one heathen at a time.”
No, not the band. Pay attention….
Continuing…and I couldn’t help but think of his mission as I continued to empty my glass(es). Here was a perfectly good gateway craft beer. After all you have to be careful when you try to indoctrinate a person who drinks the likes of Miller into the world of craft beer. Many well meaning craft beer lovers have failed, over zealously handing them a bold imperial stout and then wondering why the “heathen” doesn’t appreciate it’s roasty depth of flavor and high octane ABV. It’s like trying to get someone to step up in the quality of the vanilla ice cream they eat by handing them a bowl of double chocolate mocha coffee ice cream. Fail. Sunshine Pils should definitely be recognizable to someone as vanilla ice cream, and hopefully they can taste that it’s better vanilla ice cream, removing all the flaws of the lesser (adjunct flavors, no hop character, over carbonation) by using better ingredients and striving for a better quality product.
Does this mean that it’s a slam dunk that the person you’re trying to convert will quickly jump to the other side? No, probably not. Some people just like the vanilla ice cream made from low fat cream and “naturally artificial flavings”, no matter how much you put one made with real quality cream and real Madagascar vanilla bean in front of them – same with beer. But by not giving him(or her) something that they’re likely to dismiss on first sip, you’ve opened up the possibility for some conversation and possibly the first steps to salvation.
So next time you’re invited to a summertime event bring a six or two of Sunshine Pils with you and see how many heathens you can convert. Zac would be proud.
Time for another beer.