“It used to be that a brewery worth its chops had to have an IPA,” says BSG Midwest Sales Director Chris German, “now it’s Pils.”
The 2016 GABF would seem to support this, with record numbers of entries in the pale lager categories.
Malt color – as well as many flavor compounds – are created in the kiln. Lower temperatures and shorter kiln times mean paler malts that let the milder noble hops typically used for pale lagers have more of a voice in the glass.
But the brewing applications of low-color malts don’t stop at Pilsner and Helles.
“Session IPA and Pils are kissing cousins,” German continues. “Balanced but hoppy. Drinkable. But where Pils has a track record of 180 years of popularity, session IPA is maybe 5 years old. The ‘flavor volume’ is louder, but the malt still has to be interesting.”
A low-color base malt can be a great tool for portfolio differentiation, too. With a visual connotation of approachability and lightness, a low-color malt can help surprise increasingly been-there, done-that craft drinkers.
“Think of double IPA” says German. “Low color but tons of flavor. It’s a cool trick to have a beer that surprises you – tells you with your eyes what to expect, and when you drink it it’s something pleasantly different.”