5/14/15: Left Hand Brewing Company's Polestar Pilsner

4:37 PM

Today we have the second pilsner that I've discussed on this blog. I've linked my previous pilsner post here but, in case you don't want to read it, I'll quickly summarize my feelings about the style of brew for you now: I like it. In my eyes it's the most accessible kind of beer thanks in large part to its light flavor and easy drinkability.

As much as I like pilsners I do find one flaw in the style: no pilsner I've ever had has really stood out from the rest. I can tell when a pils is run-of-the-mill (i.e. Rolling Rock) or when it's been skillfully crafted (see Atwater's Purple Gang, linked above). The overall steadiness of the pilsner style means that I know exactly what to expect (more or less) each time I open one. There's really now real "wow" factor involved in them.


That wow factor would be nice, though. Today I'm getting into Left Hand's Polestar Pilsner. Will it redefine the style for me (which is, admittedly, an incredible task)? Will it fit nicely into what I've come to anticipate from a pilsner and impress me with its craftsmanship? Or will it be a one-off brew for me?
Left Hand Brewing Company hails from Colorado. Like all good beer stories, that of Left Hand begins with a genuine love of the stuff: one of the company's co-founders was an avid homebrewer while the other traveled around the world trying the best beers he could find.

The brewery officially opened for business in 1994 and has been around and brewing for the past twenty-one years. For more information on Left Hand's rise to the upper echelon of the craft world allow me to direct you to their history page.

Unfortunately, I've never had Left Hand before. Which is crazy, I know, because I see their red palm logo everywhere. I've known of their renown ever since I realized that my upstairs neighbor (two years removed) routinely put Nitro bottles in the recycling can. He always struck me as the best kind of beer aficionado.

That all changes with this single bottle of Polestar. The official page for the brew is pretty slim on any aroma or flavor related details. But that's okay. It gives me room to exercise my reviewer muscles.

Polestar doesn't have your standard pilsner aroma; it's akin to a pale ale scent. Which, to be honest, startled me. It also startled my cat. Purrl gave it four quick sniffs before scrunching up her face and turing her attention back to looking out the window. Since she's a cat I can't blame her. It's a totally unexpected bitter, hoppy aroma. aAt first. But, should you move beyond that, the standard pilsner aroma is there, waiting to be discovered.


That exact same bitter pale aleness is present in the brew's flavor. For the sake of transparency, I'll say that the initial swig was a little abrasive for me. But, by the time I returned to the bottle for a second, I was used to it and liked it. The bitterness draws out and enhances the innate pilsner flavors to which I look forward.

The brew's as light and lightly carbonated as you'd except a pilsner to be. This means it goes down really easily. At 5.5% ABV Polestar's ease of drinking could land a reviewer like me in trouble; it's a good thing I only bought one bottle or else I'd be saying "I'll just have one more" until the whole pack had been demolished.

Some time ago I was casual snowboarder. This was back in late middle school/early high school, mind you. Being afraid of heights I never really focused on tricks. I was more of a "how fast can I get to the bottom of this slope?" kind of guy.

Every wintery Friday night I'd go to one of central Ohio's not quite so world-class ski resorts. I'd be there with my friends (and mom and brother) from 4 or 5 p.m. until about 10. Being winter, darkness would come on quickly. All those nights spent snowboarding is what Polestar brings to mind. Whether that's because of the whole star motif, the cold temperature of the beer itself, or the crispness of the hoppy flavor, I can't say. Maybe it's all three working together.

At the beginning of this post I asked what kind of pilsner Polestar would be. I thought it'd just be a clever hook to get you to read what I had to say. Before trying it I expected the brew to fall into the second category. I'm happy to report that it falls into the first. Polestar is, without hyperbole, the best pilsner I've ever had. I give a 9.5/10. This is as close to pilsner perfection as I'll likely ever taste. You'd be a fool to pass up on an opportunity to try this.

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