Profiled by Maria Devan
Belgian style beer is defined by an approach to style that allows a healthy contribution from the yeast character as well as a traditional appearance concerning the head of foam. Is there such a thing as a Belgian style pilsner? If you are looking for one on the store shelf I daresay you will be challenged to find any or any Belgian style lagers in general. That is why I am happy to have discovered Ommegang’s Idyll Days. Ommegang is a regional Belgian style brewery here in NY and a personal favorite of mine. They have done a wonderful thing with their interpretation on the pilsner. The pilsner is a contemporary style and it’s guidelines speak to it’s hoppy originality with deference to the lager tradition.
Let’s taste Ommegang’s Idyll Days and pair it with chicken wings I will make with a chickpea salad and the leftover thai peanut dressing.
Very light. The palest straw color with golden edges. Just at 3 on the SRM chart. White head that foams in the Belgian tradition and lasts clinging. Light haze with pretty bubbles rising to the top. Malt smells bread-y but without any golden crust. They are using floor malted barley or pils malt from the Czech Republic. The beer also uses corn or flaked maize so you could say it’s a Belgian variation on the Classic American Pilsner.
Malt smells bread-y but without any golden crust. Traditional Saaz hops smell like sweet grasses and crisp lemon peel. They hint at their mint but never realize it fully. They have a graceful floral that is both fragrant and lightly perfumy. Very slight DMS and no acetaldehyde or diacetyl. No fruit from yeast. Taste follows the nose all the way except for a glimpse at the yeast character. There is a surprise white wine like yeasty ester that gives this beer an unexpected elegance. Seltzer like carbonation does not interrupt the breadiness and allows the hops to really shine without becoming too strong or bitter. No hop oils on the mouthfeel. Finishes semi dry, crisp and refreshing.
While you might be used to a deeper golden color on most pilsners and therefore tempted to tick off for appearance please note that the SRM numbers for the pils start at 2. This beer is exact within the style parameters except for the carbonation which is sparkling.
So light and clean that it pairs with plain fruit like sliced cantaloupe or watermelon , and lightly seasoned vegetables like corn on the cob or raw carrots. Would pair well with hard and soft cheeses. The carbonation together with it’s steadfast breadiness makes it perfect to show off the light cream character in a cheese like Brillat Savarin Brie, and sturdy enough to also favor a cheese like Brigante sheep’s milk cheese with rosemary. The light clean character would take nothing away from any fresh herb and it’s biscuit like breadiness would stand up to the acidity of the tomato either cooked in sauces, or raw in salads.
Welcome to the PGA beer rating system: one beer “Don’t bother.” Two: Eh, if someone gives it to you, drink. Three: very good, go ahead and seek it out, but be aware there is at least one problem. Four: seek it out. Five: pretty much “perfecto.”