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Amalgam Brewing | Present Time (Pilsner)

Amalgam Present Time Featured

Making world-class lagers is no easy feat. The knowledge required to do so is not gained overnight, and no amount of luck can produce a clean and drinkable bottom-fermented beer without the requisite skill. A successful lager brewer must put in their time and learn from their mistakes on the way to creating something great. And it certainly doesn’t hurt to have a renowned mentor along the way.

For Phil Joyce and Eric Schmidt of Amalgam Brewing, that knowledgeable mentor just so happens to be Ashleigh Carter, Head Brewer and Co-Owner of Bierstadt Lagerhaus, one of the most successful lager breweries in America. As Joyce and Schmidt are learning from Carter on Bierstadt’s equipment, they have already started putting out some excellent lagers of their own, the most recent of which is Present Time. This Contemporary American-Style Pilsner showcases how Amalgam has been able to apply a modern approach to making classic Lagers.

Amalgam Brews

Amalgam—AKA the two man crew of Joyce and Schmidt—is well known for their barrel aging program, but they have recently increased their frequency of making clean West Coast IPAs and Lagers through access to and knowledge gained from Bierstadt. Joyce is not taking this opportunity for granted. Carter “has provided a lot of insights as to how to best execute our beer vision with her equipment.” He elaborates “Bierstadt is an amazing learning opportunity for me every day, and Ashleigh is an incredible wealth of knowledge.”

Amalgam Present Time glass
No Time like the Present

The Process

That vast knowledge is applied pointedly in brewing beers on Bierstadt’s system, “a brewhouse… designed very specifically to make world-class lager beer” explains Joyce. One benefit of Bierstadt’s system is its ability to use historical lager brewing techniques such as decoction and floatation. Regarding these methods, Joyce says, “The ability to decoct our beers creates a depth of malt flavor and aroma that cannot be recreated any other way… I believe that the floatation tank at Bierstadt gives us the most unique opportunity to differentiate our beers from others in the market.”

The floatation tank allows for “cold break and protein-polyphenol complexes [to be] separated from the wort which allows for a much smoother bitterness and, in our experience, a cleaner and brighter hop expression.” This hop expression has been a signature element of Amalgam’s recent non-barrel aged offerings, and it is fascinating to see how Bierstadt’s equipment has been utilized to achieve that end. “We find that the Bierstadt equipment provides us with process levers that we can pull to change the finished beer without having to change the ingredients. We can be incredibly precise and simple in our ingredient choice but still create layers of flavor and aroma not possible with other equipment.”

Present Time

That simplicity is certainly reflected in Present Time. “About as simple as it can get: 1 malt, 1 hop, 1 yeast,” says Joyce. The 1 hop here has its own interesting story. Lorien is a varietal developed by Indie Hops. While of American origin, it was bred from a German noble hop, creating a blend of Old World and New that Amalgam is replicating with its Lager program. Lorien exhibits low alpha and high beta acid levels commonly found in noble hops while presenting fresh fruit elements of lemon/lime and melon.

On the malt side, Joyce explains, “The French Pilsen malt from Malteurop used in this beer provides a simple fruity-sweet foundation that really supports the Lorien hops.” While simple, these ingredients were specially chosen for their cohesiveness and ability to work together in sync.

Amalgam Present Time 4 pack
Sitting pretty

The Taste

Tasting Present Time brings everything together from the specialized methods to the carefully selected ingredients. The Pilsner pours a golden straw into the glass with a medium head and quickly retreating retention. There is a refreshing crisp nose to Present Time of grassy malt and lemon zest, invoking old-timey memories of drinking lemonade on the porch after mowing the grass.

The first sip is smooth.

Too smooth—going to need another.

Some nectarine dances on the palate along with fresh squeezed lemon and a touch of sweetness. A floral element hits the mid-palate and is greeted by a balancing light biscuit malt presence. Drinking this beer at separate times over a couple weeks, the grassy—almost dank—notes of fresh Present Time have faded into more Noble floral characteristics, a fun transformation also noted by Joyce. At any time, past or present, this beer finishes incredibly clean, the only thing wanting is another sip.

 

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A post shared by Britt Antley (@brittskibeers)

Amalgam plans to continue releasing their non-barrel aged beers every 4 to 8 weeks depending on the style of beer and availability of production time at Bierstadt. “We’re going to keep exploring new possibilities and allow this relationship and opportunity to engage our deepest creativity,” says Joyce.

Reflecting on Present Time gave this author strong Slow Pour Pils-with-modern-American-hop-profile vibes. Brewed at the same location using nearly identical processes and just different ingredients, this makes sense, but it also says a lot that Amalgam has created a beer that can proudly occupy the same physical and conceptual space as the legendary Bierstadt Slow Pour. We look forward to experiencing more of this excellence in the future.

All photos by Britt Antley


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