Looking for a new lager? Try Phuket
OUR BI-WEEKLY BEER COLUMN GIVES YOU A TASTY RECOMMENDATION
When it comes to beer, there are really only two main styles. This may sound crazy when one considers the amount of stouts, bachs, trippels and porters out there, but these are really just sub-styles. The two big guns are ales and lagers. Anyone familiar with both can attest, there is a world of difference between the two.
These classifications are based entirely on the yeast is used and how the brew ferments. Lager yeasts ferment the brew from the bottom up while ales ferment from the top down. Ales generally ferment at a higher temperature for a shorter amount of time. Lagers, on the other hand, take a bit longer and require a lower temperature. Traditionally, lagers would be left to ferment in caves, where the temperature was constant and generally more mild than the outside world.
Personally, I’m more of an ale guy myself. I’ve had some fantastic lagers in my time, but by and large, I prefer a nice big bold impressive ale. Yes, there are certainly plenty of lagers that could stand up to ales in terms of body and alcohol content, noticeably the various German Bach styles, but my mind generally fills with images of the lighter American lagers that most of the beer drinking public is familiar with. Being a northeastern Pennsylvania beer drinker, I think of Yuengling or Lions Head as symbolic of the lager world. While they may often be found in my hand on a summer night, I can’t help but go back to ales every time.
This week, a friend sent me an imported lager that had me a bit curious. Phuket lager is from Thailand and boasted the use of fragrant jasmine rice in its brewing, which is one of my favorite varieties. Using rice in the brewing of beer certainly isn’t a unique idea, but never before have I had a brew that used the sweet smelling jasmine. While quite certain that this might be a beer better suited for hotter temperatures, I was still very much intrigued.
The pour was a light translucent yellow color topped by just the slightest amount of head that wasted no time in dissipating. Bubbles continued to shoot toward the surface, promising an ample amount of carbonation. The smell was also rather light. There was a little bit of sweet malts and citrus, though the most intriguing part was the scent of toasty rice that hovered amongst it. If nothing else, the appearance and scent screamed “drinkable.”
The taste, while slightly interesting, was rather subdued. This beer certainly wasn’t offensive. It tasted just like it smelled. There was some sweet maltiness with a hint of citrus backed by the nuttiness from the rice with a light bit of hops toward the end. It was a nice twist on a simple lager, though nothing to write home about. Its real strength laid in its drinkability.
Phuket was incredibly light and crisp. The ample carbonation certainly contributed to this. The brew had a very nice dry finish that doesn’t linger. I could imagine it’d make a great beer to have by the grill on a sunny weekend. While it won’t be making me turn away from ales any time soon, Phuket will make a nice summer session beer. Now I just have to hang onto a few bottles ’til the hot weather gets here. Wish me luck.