Let’s travel back in time to the early 1980s (1980 to 1982 to be more specific)…
The above list consists of American beers with German sounding names that were brewed in cities like St. Louis, Milwaukee, Newark, and Philadelphia. Those were the beers of my misspent youth which were often purchased in 32 ounce bottles at neighborhood bars (usually The Dolphin Tavern on Broad and Tasker Streets which was NOT the hipster haven that it is now) that turned a blind eye to underage drinking as long as you bought your beers “to go”. At that time, my “crew” consisted of friends from elementary school (we always called it grade school), and since we rarely left the neighborhood, we were pretty much stuck drinking the “domestics”.
As we approached the mid-1980s (1983 to 1986), my circle of friends expanded to include guys from high school that were from different Archdiocesan Parishes in South Philly (I was from Annunciation BVM. The Rick was from St Nick’s. Dave and Kenny were from St. Mary’s). As my circle of friends expanded, so did my palate. Instead of just “hanging on the corner”, we would leave our neighborhoods and pay frequent visits to South Street and its surrounding neighborhoods.
During one of our excursions we discovered a small, family owned sandwich shop called Brocco’s Deli which was located on the corner of Sixth and Fitzwater Streets in a neighborhood that is now referred to as Bella Vista (it was all called South Philly back then). It was at this hole-in-the-wall deli that we discovered the joy of the $3 hoagie and imported beers like…
St. Pauli Girl
Carlsberg Elephant Beer
Beck’s (Light AND Dark)
… and many other brands that we would sample via many a mixed six-pack. Little did I know then that all of this mixed six-pack sampling would continue well into my 40s and early 50s as the number of breweries in the United States grew from just 93 breweries in 1983 to well over 5,300 in 2017.
While it’s obvious that I’ve always been a bit of an explorer when it comes to beer drinking, I have never had the opportunity to try anything from Veltins, a Grevenstein, Germany brewery that dates back to 1824. I recall seeing the name on the side of a Williams Formula One car in the late 1990s / early 2000s, but have never actually seen this beer in the flesh (or should I say “in my glass”). Until now. Thanks to a little thing called beer mail (though I prefer to call it beer mmm-Ale).
The Veltins beer that you see in the above photo arrived on our doorstep as part of a sudsy care package from Artisanal Imports of Austin, Texas. Before we get to our review of the Veltins Pilsener, here’s what Artisanal Imports has to say about it:
Veltins pours clean with a pale golden body and white, billowing head. Subtle malt and pleasant grassy character fill the nose. The first sip bursts with carbonation and there is a balanced soft note of malt and gentle hops. The sweet malt slowly melds to a dry, clean, soft finish which leaves you begging for more.
And now for our impressions…
- Appearance: Clear golden yellow color with a fluffy white head that tops off at about an inch, dissipates slowly and then settles down to a quarter inch of lingering foam.
- ABV: 4.8%
- Limpd: Yeasty with a hint of baking spices.
- G-LO: Light and citrusy on the nose with hints of lemon zest and some light biscuity malt notes.
- Limpd: Very mild, almost watery. Not overly flavorful but still crisp and refreshing with a blend of yeast and zest. There is a mild bitterness that lingers into the finish but not off-putting.
- G-LO: Lightly carbonated with a soft and creamy mouthfeel. Very clean tasting with a light citrus flavor and just a bit of bitterness. Stays pretty consistent from start to finish. Ends very crisp and clean with just a bit of pithy lemon bitterness lingering in the aftertaste.
- Limpd: Truth be told, I am not a big fan of this style. I find it lacking in flavor (and I guess in craftiness versus my go to stouts and black IPAs). That said, this is the epitome of a summer beer. Not a lot of carbonation, mild flavors and yet, quite refreshing. Not the greatest pilsener but then not your typical lawnmower beer of a pilsener. This fell somewhere in between.
- G-LO: While this beer goes down incredibly easy, its overall quality hovers right around average. While it’s definitely a step up from a standard issue Budweiser, Miller, or Coors, it’s nowhere near a Prima or Pivo Pils. The Veltins Pilsener would make a fine thirst quencher on a hot and humid summer day (think Gatorade for grown-ups), but as I just said, there are better options. Drink it if you see it, but don’t go out of your way for it.
Many thanks to Artisanal Imports for sending us these very generous samples!