The evolution of the craft beer drinker begins with whatever cheap macro lager asserts its dominance over the drinker’s campus. From there it’s an introduction to stand bys like Blue Moon, Boston Lager and Fat Tire, beers that are familiar enough but still not too different. The next stage is easily described as bigger is better, with the drinker seeking whatever is the most bitter, or at least has the most alcohol. Then he starts getting into sours. And then finally it’s a return to the “fizzy yellow beer” we left behind long ago, but with a craft mentality.
One of my brothers is definitely in the bigger is better stage, as evidenced by my ability to guess exactly which four beers he was going to order for his flight last week (the four highest in alcohol). I’m at the leading edge of the evolution right now, constantly lamenting the lack of low alcohol, easy drinking beers at most bars and tap rooms. More and more I just find myself wanting a crisp pilsner or a light kolsch.
So it makes me happy to notice a steady rise in the amount of these beers available in bottles and cans these days. Perhaps it’s brewers following current trends. Perhaps it’s the availability of tank space as production capacity increases and demand slows. Whatever the reasons I like them.
Last week I found myself in Chicago. While I didn’t have enough time to stop at my new favorite brewery for lagers, Dovetail, I was able to do the next best thing, stop at Binny’s to pick up some local beer. One of those was Lü, a kolsch from Naperville’s Solemn Oath.
This 2016 GABF bronze medal-winning kolsch fits right into the style of beers I’m craving right now. It’s light-bodied and easy to drink, with an ABV that makes downing a six pack a relatively responsible decision. The hops impart a complex spicy and floral aroma, while the malt contributes a honey note. The crisp hop bite balances out the malt sweetness and adds another dimension to the cracker flavors from the malt.
No matter where you’re at on the craft beer evolution spectrum, this is a beer you’ll enjoy. Even if you just want the most ABV for your buck, your head will thank you in the morning.