Lager is an odd one isn’t it. A reputation tarnished in some ways by large scale commercial brewing and a history aligned with over-consumption. The phrase lager lout didn’t just appear out of nowhere. But this is a style that epitomises one aspect of beer that is almost unique in the world of drinks in my opinion. That notion of quenching ones thirst and, yes, to a certain degree, the fact that sometimes you don’t want to ‘just’ sip a drink.
Lager arguably doesn’t need to do a lot to deliver the drinkability that we all love it for, but, as with any drink, there still needs to be balance, albeit at a lower level; minimal malt balanced with minimal hopping. Sounds easy right, but when you're working with delicacies, beer is much less forgiving. Massive hops and massive malts can hide a multitude of sins… and when elegance and lightness of body are the key… everything needs to be on point.
This brings us to our Palomar Chili Lager from our experimental friends at Urbanaut. They brought us the innovative Beer Blenders which take the idea of balance to a new level, and so it’s fair to say they know a thing or two about clever flavour combinations. And chili and lager is certainly a canny combo. The thirst quenching effects of beer’s most smashable style, offset by a hot and spicy food stuff that typically leads to needing a drink. Could this be the world's first beer that the more you drink the more you need to drink!!!? Let’s find out…
Pale gold and crystal clear in the glass. The nose is clean and crisp with lovely citrus hits combining with subtle biscuits and cereal notes. Can you smell chili? I don't think so, although there’s some savoury agave-like notes on the nose. The palate is super clean too and the chili takes a while to make its appearance, but builds on each sip until the back of the palate and the sides of the tongue start to tingle. This is great! Thirst quenching but sort of demanding at the same time and certainly keeps me coming back for more.
For me there’s a lot to like about this beer. It transported me back to many a happy moment in an Indian restaurant - where the kick of a chili was happily dowsed by the liquid refreshment of a cold lager. As a kid my Dad would bet me a pound I couldn’t eat whole chilis when we went for curries and let’s just say I made good money. If, like me, your tolerance to spice is high and you're into the S&M of a scorching chili experience, this beer certainly won’t make you sweat like a searing vindaloo. But, that’s not its raison d'être. This is about a clever play on styles and food and beer matching… and it certainly hits the spot. A dollar says you’ll smash it and be back for more!