Beer Review 0561: Dogfish Head Piercing Pils Pilsner
Piercing Pils is a new release from Dogfish Head (Milton, Delaware) and replaces their venerable winter seasonal, Chicory Stout (my rating: 82 points). While small quantities of Chicory Stout will remain available, it will be a limited offering only to be found on draft — and that’s big news, considering the brewery has produced the beer each season since 1995.
Dogfish calls Piercing Pils a perry-Pilsner hybrid; a perry is an alcoholic beverage made from fermented pears, and perry is not to be confused with ‘pear cider.’ Piercing Pils is an authentic Czech-style Pilsner brewed with white pear tea and pear juice, both of which are added after the boil for maximum aroma and flavor contribution. The beer is hopped with Saaz and Amarillo hops, and is available December-February. Alcohol by volume (ABV) registers in at 6%, and the beer has 35 IBUs (International Bitterness Units).
Pouring produced an average size, bright white head that was soapy in texture and quickly faded away. The beer is yellow-golden in color, more yellow than golden, and it has a slightly hazy body. Carbonation bubbles zoom to support the head from the bottom of the glass. Despite the touch of haze, the body is clear, free of particles and sediment. Lacing is good, leaving thin but solid sheets on the non-sipping side of my glass.
Right from cracking the crown, this is a highly aromatic beer. Those Saaz hops are unmistakable — earthy, herbal and spicy. There are hints of floral notes and lemon peel, as well as very sweet pear juice, like you would find in a mixed fruit cup. Other than some light cereal grains, there isn’t much malt presence. Piercing Pils is crisp smelling but the super sweet pears are an oddball combination against a background of Saaz hops.
And the taste is much the same: sweet, sugary pearl juice up front, but it quickly subsides to some wonderful Saaz flavors; crisp herbal notes, spice, and lemon peel. The pear comes back for the finish, and when mixed with the hop profile, the two battle each other in a way that’s not terrible but not exactly tasty, either. It’s almost like how generic window cleaner smells, but thankfully the finish takes over delivering solid notes of spice and straw-like grain. The beer is light-bodied, with a thin, foamy mouthfeel and overly drying finish. Crisp, yes; refreshing — not quite.
Chalk up another one for what seems to be the ongoing story with Dogfish. Make a solid base beer and then throw something on top of it that just doesn’t work as a gimmick. While the pear isn’t all bad, they’ve taken what would probably be a really solid representation of a Pilsner and have made it just out of the range of being really good. The pear doesn’t enhance and the beer is a touch too dry.
Dogfish Head Piercing Pils Pilsner, 84 points. Price: $2.49 US for one 12 oz. bottle.