We are in the midst of a Pilsner renaissance. The style which was once the epitome of corporate beer is suddenly ultra-hip. Every cool brewery makes a handful of IPAs, a barrel aged stout, and a Pilsner. In order to move the trend even further, brewers from Wayfinder, Modern Times’ Portland outpost, and Heater Allen made Terrifico, which they describe as an “Italian Style Horror Pils.” Apparently the Italians are making good pils.
In the Beer Bible, Jeff Alworth spent a whole chapter on emerging trends in Italian beer. One of the touchstones of the Italian brewing is Tipopils, brewed by Birrificio Italiano since the 1990s. It’s a straightforward pils but bent slightly to reveal new flavors. Where traditional pilsners are fermented cold, some near freezing, Tipopils is fermented warm allowing the yeast to form fruity esters and a fuller body. And while it’s fermenting, Tipopils is hit with two separate dry hopping charges, comepletely unheard of in a Pilsner. But it’s not like they use American hops. Tipopils uses all German hops for a super herbal, spicy flavor.
Terrifico follows the same rule book. Over a base of light Pilsner malt, brewers added tons of Tettnanger and Spalter hops in the kettle and then dry-hopped with Polaris hops, a German variety released in 2012 known for its extremely high alpha acid content. The 4.7% ABV is met with a surprising 42 IBUs. Terrifico is gold, brilliantly clear, and bursting with herbal aromas. It smells like a hybrid herb: half mint, half basil. The flavor is crisp and spicy with a finish like an organic cleaning spray. The malt backbone is crackery like a saltine. It’s really hoppy, but lacks the usual dankness and fruit you’d find in an IPA.