Pilsners are kind of like burgers. They’re almost annoyingly common, frequently mass-marketed, and often terribly unexciting. But when they’re good, oh boy are they good.
Rise Brewery‘s Ærø Grolle Pilsner is a good reminder of how the style got to be so popular in the first place, even as it transcends the tropes of that style. Oh yes, the beer is crisp and refreshing and all that, but it’s also very nuanced and properly hop-forward. Grolle has the standard pilsner look, crystal-clear and banana-yellow, but its aroma is uniquely enticing with its mix of honey, sourdough bread, champagne, and jasmine flowers. On the palate it snaps with leafy-lemony hops and lively fizz, closing with a very dry finish and a lingering floral bitterness. Light but flavorful and only 4.6% alcohol, this is a lager you can quaff all evening, and with a variety of food: hard Italian cheeses, plump German sausages, and hearty Japanese fare like yakitori and ramen will all find a friend in Grolle.
The name “Grolle” has an interesting triple meaning. It is the word for “sparrow” in the local dialect on the island of Ærø, where the beer is brewed, and it is also a nickname for the Ærøese themselves. Plus, it is a reference to the Bavarian Josef Groll, who introduced lagering to the city of Pilsen in 1842. He is often credited with inventing or otherwise perfecting the modern Pilsner.