This weekend my wife and I took a trip to Orange Beach to meet up with my parents at a condo that they had rented. The time was much needed and much anticipated, albeit we were only there for a day and a half. Regardless of the amount of time that I’m there, I have a little routine that I try to follow. First, I have to get tacos at Bravo Tacos because the fish tacos are heavenly. There is this pineapple salsa that they put on them that may or may not be of this world, but I’ll let you be the judge of that. Second, I go to the Orange Beach Publix and pick up some beers for the beach. Being that all Alabama beaches have a strict no glass rule, my selection is usually limited. I didn’t want to go with Good People or anything that I have had before for fear of it being just a little too heavy on my stomach. That mixed with the heat is never a good combination. I needed something light and something that had the ability to be refreshing, and then I saw this sampler box from New Belgium. Not my first choice, but it was in cans, so it had automatically been pushed to the top of my list. I swallowed my pride, threw it in the buggy, and we were off to the beach.
In this sampler was a beer from New Belgium that I hadn’t had before, the Blue Paddle Pilsner. I’m a big fan of pilsners. Actually, let me back up a little. I’m a fan of well-done pilsners. I’m looking for a clean, crisp, moderate to highly carbonated beer that’s extremely sessionable and most of all, great tasting. Luckily, I took a chance on a beer that hit all those marks and I couldn’t have been happier with my decision. Here are my thoughts:
Since I was on the beach soaking up as much sun as I could, I didn’t have the luxury of pouring the beer into a glass, though from what I’ve read online, the beer pours a light golden color with about one to two finger widths of fizzy foam head, a lot of retention, and fades very slowly over time to leave a lot of foamy lacing on the sides of the beverage transportation apparatus, or cup. Mine happened to be inside the can, just how God intended beer to be drank, am I right? The aroma was really nice, but slightly on the lighter end of the spectrum. You get a ton of grainy notes with a bit of bread-like scents. Delve deeper into the aroma of the beer and you pick up some lighter hints of grassy hops and perfume-like spices. Mix that with the salty air, sand, and sunscreen, you have the epitome scent of summer.
The taste begins pretty much like the aroma does. There’s a lot of grain and bread coming through the nose with a little bit of non-citrus fruit, like pear or something. I picked up on some nice caramel flavors that developed more toward the back end of each sip. As you progress through the beer that fruit taste begins to fade away with the grain flavors intensify along with more of those spicy hop notes and yeast flavors bombarding your tongue. This happened more so once the beer had warmed a little. The end of each sip, as I stated earlier, has a nice caramel aspect mixed with a light herbal taste that’s left on your tongue, but fades into a crisp malty flavor that lingers around much longer than any other flavor in the beer. This one was a whirlwind of flavors that come at you at different times with a load of different variables playing into each flavor arising. If any of that makes sense, you’ll see what I mean if you try this beer.
Mouthfeel was pretty decent overall. I wish there would have been a little more carbonation because it wasn’t want I expect a pilsner to be. Aside from the carbonation, the beer was extremely crisp in the flavor area and provided a ton of nice grainy bread notes for me to enjoy. This is what drinking a pilsner should be like flavor-wise.
Overall, the sweetness from the malt and the grainy bread flavors blend so well to create a wonderful execution of a often misinterpreted style. If I could drink this beer every time I’m on the beach, I would be a happy camper. The flavors hit in all the right areas, but the only drawback for me was the lower carbonation level. The beer was extremely sessionable (I finished all three within 30 minutes…) I know a lot of people have a skewed view of New Belgium because of the overhyped Fat Tire, but give this one a go and you’ll understand that their beers may be worth another chance. I know I’m eating words that I’ve been speaking for years as we speak. Enjoy!

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