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Friday tasting: That back-of-the-throat reverberation

Bert Grant, pictured with fresh picked hops

Reverb Imperial Pilsner, the latest in the Smokestack Series from Boulevard Brewing, arrived in St. Louis this week.

The “sell sheet” explains the name, first quoting Nigel Tufnel from This is Spinal Tap: “You see, most blokes, you know, will be playing at ten. You’re on ten here, all the way up, all the way up, all the way up, you’re on ten on your guitar.Where can you go from there? Where? These go to eleven.”

At 7.5% ABV Reberb is amped up, although not stupidly so. The bitterness units, 30, are in fact less than, for instance, Pilsner Urquell. The hop presence is somewhat more, likely because of first wort hopping. A second reason the beer is called Reverb is because it echoes Collaboration No. 1, brewed in partnership with Jean-Marie Rock, who is in charge of brewing at Orval Trappist monastery brewery. Details are here.

It’s been more than two years since I last had Collaboration No. 1 — saw a bottle sitting warm in a bottle shop in Osage Beach about a year ago, but that was not at all tempting. The spicy Saaz aroma seems more apparent in the newest version, tickling the nose, in fact. But this time Reverb struck another note for me, the first reverberation triggering a second.

It is by no means bitter, but that bitterness is persistent and echoes in my throat. I could not help be remember the late Bert Grant (pictured at the top) talking about his own Fresh Hop Ale (one of the first) in 1997.

“You should feel it in the back of your throat,” he said.

Not taste it but feel it. It’s that kind of beer.

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3 Responses to Friday tasting: That back-of-the-throat reverberation

  1. Steve September 17, 2012 at 5:49 am #

    Transparency right up front: This is no attempt at snarkiness or troll-bating, I have always had this question (well, at least since I first heard about an “Imperial” Pilsner), what is the difference between an Imperial Pilsner and a Maibock?

    The couple I’ve tried have tasted like a hoppier Maibock, though the Boulevard take seems to be less-so with only 30 IBU — which is right in the wheelhouse for a Maibock.

    Is the BJCP (or anyone else) setting up to officially recognize the style yet?

  2. Stan Hieronymus September 17, 2012 at 7:19 am #

    Steve – Bottom line is I don’t find the term Imperial Pilsner useful, so you are probably asking the wrong guy. I don’t find Reverb as “rich” (a matter of attenuation and sweet malt flavor) as a Maibock.

  3. Steve September 17, 2012 at 9:16 am #

    I think I often get that “back of the throat” feel with fresh Urquell, more so than a German-style Pils, and it can often fatigue my palate — but the first couple are always delicious.

    I’ll be interested to see if any of the Reverb makes it to my area, maybe I can compare it with New Glarus’ new (reintroduced) Hometown Blonde Pilsner.

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