A message from Founder/Head Brewer Brandon Capps:
We produce a lot of new beers and experiment a ton, but it’s been some time since we’ve developed something to join our core lineup of year round beers. Core beers are a big commitment and require a lot of love and attention to drive continued interest and ensure that customers want to keep them around as go-to’s and, for that reason, a lot goes into the development of anything that is going to join that lineup. So I wanted to take a minute and talk about the background for this beer as well as some talking points for what makes it different and special.
Background - early on we developed a house lager that y’all know well, Olde Town Regular. It was a nice beer for who we were when we created it, a taproom focused brewery who’s emphasis was on sales from the taproom in Arvada. As we’ve grown and our reputation has shaped more, this beer felt less and less cohesive to our portfolio and we made the decision to pursue a new house lager that would fit better with the bigger picture. It’s pretty obvious that we’re known for making bangin hoppy beers, so the development of a new lager brand, in my mind, needed to be focused around our expertise and experience with hops. That’s where the Italian Pilsner comes in. This is a style that is not as widely known as German or Czech style pilsners, but in short, an Italian Pilsner is most like the German Pilsner (super light and crisp as opposed to the Czech Pils which is a bit more malt focused) with the main difference being that Italian Pilsners are also dry hopped. (Link to more about Italian Pilsners) In general, Pilsners are very hop-forward beers, in the lager world this is what sets them apart form styles like Vienna and Helles that tend to be much more malt driven. As a point of reference, despite what many of the larger breweries put on the can, most American macro lagers tend to be helles based with adjuncts like corn and rice added to lighten the body. This is why a lot of people who come in and say “I like lagers” will try a Pils from us and feel like its “too hoppy”. With that said, given the focus of the rest of our portfolio, we tend to attract a lot of hop-forward drinkers, so the idea here is to design a lager that satisfies our hop-crazed fans while also providing them with an affordable and super drinkable option.
Development - every lager we’ve brewed over the last 18 months has really influenced where we landed here. Since building our new brewhouse in 2019, we have a lot more capability with what we can do on the “hot side” (brewhouse) to emulate some of the most important historic methods for lager brewing. One of the most important features of this beer is the use of a process called “decoction” (here is a link to reading more if you want) which, in short, is a process where part of the grain water mixture is separated from the main holding vessel and boiled, then mixed back in to raise the temperature of the aggregate. What this does to impact the final product is develop a more complex array of malt driven flavors that are very delicate but add more depth to the final product. You may notice a slight toasty or caramel flavor lingering in the background. Much like how the robust body and sweetness of a hazy IPA balances out the aggressive hopping of our IPAs, the decoction mash provides a more robust backbone to support the more aggressive hopping rates of the Italian Pilsner. After the beer is transferred over to to the cold side for fermentation, it undergoes a few processes to separate the liquid from solids that can cause subtle off flavors. Most of these off flavors such as tannin (grain bitterness), autolysis (umami yeast flavors), polyphenol (tannic hop bitterness or “green” flavors) are too subtle to notice in an IPA or really any ale style where the predominant flavors drown them out, but they’re extremely noticeable in lager styles because they are so much cleaner and more delicate. The vast majority of smaller breweries tend to make lagers that contain many of the above listed off flavors because the methods for reducing them are extremely nuanced and sometimes require extra equipment that’s extremely expensive, which is why larger breweries tend to have an advantage on these styles. That said, we have the equipment to make a few of these processes possible, and where we don’t, we have a committed brewing team that goes the extra mile and checks all the boxes to ensure we execute these methods perfectly. So this is where the word “Premium” gets some legs behind it. If we skipped some of the steps on the cold side to eliminate these more subtle off flavors, we could easily make a passable lager, but to make a premium lager we simply go the extra mile and give the beer the time and attention it needs. Some of the methods we employ are “float tanking”, “slow crashing”, “cold diacetyl rest”, “cold dry hopping” and “extended lagering”. Each of these is linked to more info if you want to learn more. So, over the last 18 months or so, we have experimented with all of these methods to develop a procedure that produces the cleanest and most enjoyable lager we can possibly produce. As a final touch to add a slight modern twist to the beer, we dry hop with Huell Melon, which is a German varietal containing many of the localized characteristics of European hops but which has also been bred and selected for the production of more fruit forward and modern hop flavors that are typically associated with American hops.
Result - the end product of everything described above is a super clean, crisp, hop forward lager that showcases extremely thoughtful attention to detail and ingredients but delivers it in a affordable and approachable package. It’s everything that New Image is know for with hops, tied up in a neat bow in a fizzy, yellow, every day drinking beer.
Tasting notes - one of the funny things about making a great lager is that the biggest challenge is eliminating flavors rather than creating them. The above described processes help to eliminate the off flavors (tannic, autolytic, polyphenol, etc) so that the flavors we want to feature (crisp, floral, subtle malt flavor, etc.) can shine through. This beer is more highly carbonated, the hop flavors range from floral / somewhat soapy (in a good way) to melon and stone fruit and the grain imparts a subtle sweetness to balance it all out.
TLDR - we’re a hop forward brewery, so we make a hop-forward lager. This lager utilizes nuanced methods and carefully selected ingredients to yield a product that is truly “premium” in lieu of passable. Flavors are hop-forward, crisp and light so people with a palate for typical “American” lager may find it “too hoppy” at first but give them time to adjust and appreciate it and they’ll usually come around. Hop-forward drinkers should gravitate to this naturally as an easier drinking option that still wakes up the palate."