Schönramer Pils is a brilliant session beer that brims with character. Notice that this is a very pale beer, yet as you'll experience, it has major presence and character. Expect clean malty highlights—similar to fresh-baked bread—and light, lemony hops. The hops become more spry and tingly in the nose as the beer continues to warm. The use of aroma-only hops in order to bitter the beer results in a very late breaking but firm bitterness that sort of effervesces as it fades, leaving a wake of aromatic noble hop tones on the palate. Look for the lemony zestiness to be present at the start, slipping away in the middle as the grains surge a bit, then picking right back up again as the bitterness washes across the palate. A true work of art in the Pilsner world, this beer is excellent with so many foods, it's almost arbitrary for us to suggest just one dish—we tried it alongside Thai coconut curry chicken and loved it, but it's great with just about anything, or on its own.
About 60 miles southeast of Munich lies the small village of Schönram. It was in 1780 that farmer Jakob Koellerer created the private land brewery of Schönram. Directly beside his brewhouse were a restaurant and stables, which served as an important resting point for post office transport between Salzburg and Munich. This brewery, with its 225+ years of brewing history, is particularly noteworthy in our books because their brewmaster is not a German native… he's from Wyoming!
The Schönram beers are different from many European beers in that they are brewed with an increasingly rare form of barley that is considered less desirable by many in the industry due to its lower yields. Another important distinction is their exclusive use of "aroma" hops, which possess a lower concentration of alpha acids (the bittering agent in hops), meaning that they must use 2-4+ times as many to get the required bitterness in their beers. The purpose is to impart a more refined, less abrasive, smoother bitter quality to the beers than that provided by widely available, high alpha-acid, high-yield, cheap hops. The overall effect is a superb drinkability that, even after 3-4 beers, never "clogs" or tires the palate. As our panel will attest, the Schönram beers are some of the most drinkable German brews they've ever sampled (and sampled, and sampled…)
For more information about the brewery, check out their web site: http://www.brauerei-schoenram.de.
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