Pure State Brewing Co. goes all in on lagers

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Whether or not you’re beginning 2021 with a Dryuary or toasting the New 12 months till the fetid scent of 2020 has worn off, January’s turn out to be a time to get considerate about alcohol — what we love, what we hate and what position it performs in our newly pandemic-stricken social lives. It’s additionally the month when, in 1919, Arkansas ratified the Eighteenth Modification, establishing prohibition within the state and ushering in a formalized relationship between booze and authorities. So, in January 2021, the Arkansas Instances raises a glass to all issues boozy with a collection we’re calling Drink/Drank/Drunk: our metropolis’s nice cocktails and mocktails, the historical past of temperance within the state, brews to strive earlier than you die, a boozy playlist and extra. 

German immigrants helped construct the U.S. beer business within the 1800s, producing lager beer that proved in style with American drinkers, however there’s scant proof of the types they brewed in Fort Smith and Little Rock throughout that point interval. Presumably, they made lagers typical of their homeland.

Across the flip of the century, Little Rock Brewing & Ice Co. made a beer referred to as “further pale Pilsner,” which could possibly be present in practically each bar within the metropolis.

Different German immigrants — with names corresponding to Pabst, Schlitz and Busch — constructed brewing empires round pale Pilsner beer. Theirs had been the precursors to in the present day’s mild lagers — Bud Gentle, Coors Gentle and others —which proceed to carry a decent grip on the American beer business regardless of the rise of craft beer breweries throughout the nation.

Nonetheless, most trendy beer drinkers would wrestle to call a conventional German lager apart from Pilsner. The homogenization of lager beer over the previous two centuries belies the variety of conventional German brewing. Ever heard of Schwarzbier, Helles or Dopplebock? In all probability not, since these types have been buried within the ash heap of historical past.

A couple of Arkansas breweries have tried to treatment this. Stone’s Throw Brewing has made a Dunkel (darkish lager), a Roggenbier (lager made with rye) and a Hefeweizen (technically an ale, however German nonetheless). Ozark Beer Co. and Misplaced Forty Brewing Co. have additionally flirted with German beer types.

There are different Arkansans brewing lagers, although largely as a complement to their ale-dominated lineups. Till 2019, there was no post-Prohibition brewery in Arkansas that specialised in lager beer. That’s the 12 months Pure State Brewing Co. launched in Rogers, going all in on lagers.

Brian Sorenson
Pure State Brewing Co.

Based on co-founder Mark Smith, the choice to concentrate on German lagers was strategic in nature. “We had been in search of a distinct segment available in the market,” he stated. “And on the time there weren’t many breweries turning out lagers.”

Smith met enterprise associate Dan Clous by means of an area homebrewing membership. They bonded over their shared love of Marzen, a mode extra generally referred to as Oktoberfest. As they scanned the Arkansas beer scene, they may sense the chance to create a special form of brewery.

For these new to beer, the distinction between ale and lager is the yeast used within the brewing course of. Ales are made with top-fermenting yeast that thrives in hotter temperatures, whereas lagers are brewed with bottom-fermenting yeast that requires chilly conditioning. Ales sometimes have a extra sturdy taste; lagers are typically extra restrained of their presentation.

Clous makes a speciality of client insights, and he stated the recognition of Budweiser, Miller and Coors was a part of the pair’s inspiration. “Contemplating how giant these manufacturers are, and what number of fridges they’re in, you’ll be able to see that lagers are a choice for a lot of beer shoppers,” he stated.

Each males had been completed homebrewers once they began engaged on the idea for Pure State. However neither wished to brew on a industrial scale. For that process they employed Will Sonneman.

Sonneman was a manufacturing brewer at Truthful Winds Brewing Co. in northern Virginia earlier than arriving at Pure State. He didn’t dabble a lot in lager brewing whereas at his former brewery, as a substitute specializing in extra mainstream craft types like IPA and different hoppy ales. He stated lager’s enchantment is its delicate composition and refreshing character. “Individuals form of forgot essentially the most pleasurable experiences can come from a light-bodied beer,” he stated. “That’s why we’ve seen a rekindling of lager beer.”

On this context, light-bodied doesn’t imply uninteresting. Lagers exist in a large spectrum of colours and taste profiles, though they are typically hopped much less aggressively than ales and have a crisper, drier end.

Pure State loosely adheres to the German purity legislation referred to as the Reinheitsgebot. This decree was issued in 1516 and restricts beer elements to barley, hops and water. Yeast was added after its discovery a number of centuries later. “You’ll be able to convey a lot taste to the desk with simply 4 elements,” stated Smith.

The Reinheitsgebot doesn’t dictate each brewing choice on the Rogers brewery. Pure State has made a espresso model of its Schwarzbier, for instance; and chipotle peppers had been added to a model of the brewery’s Vienna Lager for a spicy kick.

Pure State produced 317 barrels in 2020. Marzen, India Pale Lager and Greenway Gentle Lager have to this point been the brewery’s hottest beers.

Based on Smith, the very best praise he and the staff can obtain is from individuals who frolicked in Germany and say the beer is an ideal match to types present in Deutschland. “Making them correctly is our declare to fame,” Sonneman stated. “And typically we win.”

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German Beer Type Information

Bock: A brownish lager that sometimes weighs in round 6% ABV. Malty sweetness dominates the palate, with comparatively low bitterness.

Dopplebock: A really malty beer that’s sometimes darkish brown to black in shade. Hops are restrained and the flavour is nice however absolutely fermented. Notes of chocolate and darkish fruit are sometimes detected. The ABV can strategy 10% and contributes a warming high quality to the beer (although it shouldn’t burn). A “double” Bock, it’s not for the faint of coronary heart.

Dunkel: A darkish lager that has hints of chocolate, nuts and toast. Dunkel stops wanting black in shade, usually showing deep copper or darkish brown with a ruby tint. It’s malt ahead with low bitterness and fewer detectable sweetness than a Bock.

Hefeweizen: Technically an ale, or top-fermented beer. Hefeweizen is made with round 50% wheat malt and a yeast pressure that creates banana and clove-like character. It’s typically straw coloured and considerably hazy in look.

Helles: A pale beer that has a malty spine. Hovering round 5% ABV, Helles is crisp, clear, and extremely quaffable. It’s a step up from Pilsner when it comes to taste and mouthfeel.

Marzen: An amber-colored beer that begins candy and finishes dry. It was historically brewed in March (thus the title), saved in chilly caves over the summer season months and served throughout Oktoberfest celebrations that commenced in September.

Pilsner: The quintessential German lager. Pilsners are mild in shade and crystal clear. They’re just like Helles of their crispness and clear end. The malt, nonetheless, is extra restrained and the mouthfeel is much less substantial. Pilsners are the baseline for American mild lagers, although conventional examples have rather more character.

Schwarzbier: A darkish lager that drinks like a a lot lighter beer. In comparison with Dunkel, it’s darker in shade (Shwarzbier actually means “black beer” in German) and rather more mellow in composition. “You’ll be able to simply drink three or 4,” Pure State brewer Will Sonneman stated. “It’s under no circumstances like a porter or stout.”

Vienna Lager: Technically Austrian by type, however nonetheless sits alongside its German counterparts when it comes to presentation. Vienna Lager is just like Marzen, although it’s typically lighter in physique and decrease in alcohol content material. It has a comfortable bread-like character, average bitterness and dry end.

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