"Floral and spicy aromas and a subtle malt character," reads the can of Grandpa Jack's Pils, an excellent, authentic German pils from Safety Harbor's Crooked Thumb Brewery.
It's important to make the distinction, as many people don't understand that there's a difference in pilsner styles. Czech, German and the rarely seen classic American pilsner (note: not the same as American macro lager) all have their own unique characteristics, with the commonality of being brewed from pilsner malt (the lightest of the malts, if you're wondering) and being generally refreshing shared amongst them. The rest varies quite a bit.
The German iteration of this style is much more hop-centric than the others. This isn't due to an increase in hop quantity, but rather in a drier beer overall, which allows the hops to stand front and center. Crooked Thumb pulls this balance off perfectly, crafting a beer that's dry without becoming over-bitter, and that contains a nice, subtle graininess from what could easily be an effectively neutral malt base.
In other words, the description on the can says it all. The aroma and flavor from the German noble hops is both floral and spicy, resulting in a very traditional brew that's tough to pull off with this level of authenticity. In a blind taste test, you could put this up with the best that Germany has to offer, no joke.
Pilsners in general have developed a reputation as being lawnmower beers, likely resulting from their long association with mass-produced domestic lagers, but this is an unfair characterization. When done well, as Crooked Thumb demonstrates with Grandpa Jack's, pilsners can be nuanced and extremely satisfying.
Grandpa Jack's is one of three core beers that Crooked Thumb has put into distribution in canned six-packs, along with its Shade Tree IPA and Florida Grapefruit gose. While it's a bit harder to find than the other two, Grandpa Jack's is available in select beer stores across the bay area. A few of these are Shep's in St. Pete, Norman's on St. Pete Beach, Leukens in Dunedin, Jug & Bottle in Tampa and Craft Beer Cellar in Brandon.
— Justin Grant, tbt* correspondent
Have a suggestion for the Local Craft Beer of the Week? Brewers, have a limited release coming that we should know about? Email firstname.lastname@example.org.