My wife has an endless fascination with the discount carts that seem a constant fixture at the end of the wine aisles at the West Alabama Fiesta. Once, she stumbled upon a very serviceable Côtes du Rhône for a mere five dollars. We drank it weekly for a couple of months. Usually, the bottles she stumbles across are a little less impressive, but she enjoys the spirit of discovery that comes with the random purchase of a wine on 70 percent markdown.
While on a quick grocery run on my way home from work last week, I called to ask if she needed me to pick anything for her. "Yes!" she gushed, showing an excitement all too intense for the ultimate request. "In the discount cart, there's a bottle of sparkling rosé for $2.99!" She had shared a bottle with her mom recently, and they'd apparently loved it. I think it was the bubbles; my wife's a whore for bubbles.
I didn't find her bubbly in the discount cart (it had been thoughtfully placed in the refrigerated case), but I did happen upon this lone can of Old World Pilsener. I'd never tried it before and, hey, it was only $1.79. It might not meet the "broke-ass" standard, but it's cheap enough for me to give it a shot.
Poured into a fancy pilsner glass from a set my mom got us for a Christmas present (thanks, Mom), it's clear yellow with an ample white head. The creamy top reduces to a thin, pocked cap. Active effervescence constantly replenishes the cap, and there's a surprising amount of lacing.
The nose comes on strong, with slight citrus, a bit of floral hops, and a not insignificant dose of funk. It's not quite skunky, not quite like urine, but somewhere in between. Somehow, though, it's not at all off-putting.
The flavor is milder and cleaner. A straightforward, cereal sweetness hits right off the bat, mimicking the smell of fresh corn tortillas even as it announces its maltiness. The funk that was so prevalent in the nose is a mere undercurrent, here, helping to balance the sweetness. There's also some clean, generically bitter hops that hit in the middle and follow through the finish. As it warms, some mild butter notes creep in, creating an apparent richness in this otherwise simple, thin quaffer. A bit of honey and a slight metallic twinge are the last impression as the flavor disappears.
Like a good pilsener should be, this is very easy to drink, yet offers enough flavor to keep it interesting. It's light, clean, and refreshing. At the same time, there are enough layers to make for an interesting experience. It's a very good beer to go with a simple meal. Paired with a plate of beans and rice, this worked wonderfully. Showing enough character to stand up to the smoky flavor of the ham hock seasoning, yet not so dense as to overwhelm the simplicity of the meal, it seemed an almost intentional match. I don't know that the brewmasters at König-Brauerei have tried this pairing; I think, perhaps, they should.
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