Five years ago, my prayers were answered on the brew deck at Firestone Walker’s Paso Robles brewery. Brewmaster Matt Brynildson handed me a crystal-clear snifter of golden beer topped with a finger of white, frothy head. “This is our newest beer, Pivo Pils . . . a hoppy pilsner inspired by a beer I had while traveling Italy,” he said in his distinct central Cali-Michigan accent as he tugged at his pointed beard.
He was referring to Tipopils, Birrificio Italiano’s flagship beer, as brewed by Agostino Arioli, an animated Italian I met later that year at Firestone’s Invitational Beer Festival. I recall asking him what he thought of Brynildson’s inspired version, to which he replied, “All pilsner is made with love.”
Usually brewed by brewers for brewers, pilsners are modeled after the Bohemian version (first brewed in Pilsen, Czech Republic), which has a soft water profile that allows hops to bloom without being harsh. Germany got onboard with the style early on, and though it seemed vastly underappreciated, the pilsner has gained in popularity over the past few years with American craft brewers, who integrate additional hops to suit our IPA-abused palates. Brewing a pilsner isn’t easy, as it takes extra time for lagering, and the cracker-like maltiness leaves very little for flaws to hide behind.
When I saw Arioli was bringing his Pils and Love beer festival to the West Coast, I nearly cried. Firestone Walker kicks off the LA leg of the fest on July 28 at its Propagator in Marina Del Rey. The 2019 fest will return to South Portland, Maine, so don’t miss your chance to sample the wares of more than 50 of the world’s best pils makers.
Pils and Love at Firestone Walker Propagator, 3205 Washington Blvd., Marina Del Rey; www.firestonebeer.com/brewery/pils-and-love.php. July 28, 11 a.m.-4 p.m. $60. 21+.
Greg Nagel has been writing about beer since 2011, is an avid homebrewer of wine, cider, and beer, is a certified Cicerone Beer Server, a podcaster with the Four Brewers Show, and runs a yearly beer festival called Firkfest.