Brew Review

Beer Review – Dogfish Head Piercing Pils

Dogfish Head Piercing Pils

I have a love/hate relationship with Dogfish Head. While I have much respect for their love of experimentation, stuff like Randall Jr. and their Ancient Ale series are more often than not, completely lost on me. I find that they’re at their best when they take a traditional beer style and give it their own special twist, like they did with Festina Peche, ApriHops, and Sixty-One. When I saw a bottle of their Piercing Pils on the shelf during a recent beer run, I picked it up hoping that this would fall under the “traditional beer style with a twist” category that I love and not the Randall/Ancient Ale category that leaves me rather meh most of the time.

Before we get to my review, let’s find out what Dogfish Head’s Sam Calagione has to say about their Piercing Pils. Check out this video…

And now for my impressions of this beer…

  • Appearance: Crystal clear with a golden orange color. The head tops out at around 1.5 inches then settles down to a thin layer of white foam that covers the top of the beer.
  • Aroma: Very subdued aromas. Mrs. G-LO said it smelled like a frat house beer. I’m a bit more descriptive when it comes to talking about beer, (I AM the blogger after all!), so I’ll say that I’m getting some lemon zest, but that’s about it.
  • Taste: Light bodied with soft and fizzy carbonation. Tastes a bit more interesting than it smells. I’m getting green pear (i.e. unripened) and lemon zest from start to finish with a bit of bitterness at the end (like when you bite a lemon peel). Very astringent with a lingering lemony bitterness.
  • ABV: 6%

Thanks to the Victory Prima Pils, Great Divide Nomad, and several other superbly crafted Pilsners, I have definitely gained a great appreciation for this particular beer style. The great ones are crisp and refreshing with a subtle bitterness that I find really appealing. Piercing Pils is a pretty good beer, but it lacks the crispness that I seek from a well crafted Pilsner. The verdict: skip this one and go for the My Antonia (an Imperial Pilsner) instead. That stuff is delicious!

6 replies »

  1. It’s a shame this isn’t more impressive. Pilsner is one of my favorite styles, if only because of the simplicity in a sea of ale complexity. I was hoping a DFH version would marry the two, but I guess not. Still plan to try it.


    • I’m with you on all counts. I really like Pilsners and was hoping for the best. On the plus side, I’ve read some positive reviews, so definitely give it a try. Would love to hear your thoughts!


  2. When it comes to Professor Calgione’s Ancient Ales Series (which I agree is a misguided science hobby foisted upon the craft beer buying public), we should be thankful that he didn’t go into the clothing design business because a line of Ancient Undergarments may have proved somewhat less appealing than some of the brews.

    As for the Piercing Pils, I was looking forward to trying it and it help up pretty well after the first few sips. Clean, mildly – very mildly – sweet, dry, snappy finish. Then everything fell of the table. Pilsners by their nature are never going to throw a balled conundrum of complexity at your palate but this one abandoned any aspirations of depth pretty quickly. Kind of like a 3 minute speed date falling flat after “I thought I’d see you at one of these.”

    For my money, a well-crafted, subtleness on a pedestal, classic pilsner like Victory Prima Pils or Trumer Pilsner are much better brews and neither bring to mind the “a pear” vs “a pple” linguistic distraction.

    Cheers! (looks almost the same spelled that way)


  3. Great photo. Too bad, the review sounds like it missed the mark. And, this is why I have to say that Dogfish is a very good but not truly great brewer.


  4. I’ve had this a couple of times. I actually thought it was good and I though that some of the crispness you thought it was lacking was made up for from the pear addition. My only problem with it is I don’t know why this was designated a Winter release. I think it would have a much broader appeal as a Summer beer. But what do I know?


    • You know plenty! I’ll give it a second try if I see it around again. Maybe I was in a weird mood when I tried it. I’m convinced that plays a big part of review mind set.


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