I was at Hy-Vee liquor store on State Line recently and picked up a mixed 6-pack because I wanted to try a few different light and summery beers. I’m not sure if I’ve had New Belgium’s Blue Paddle before, so it was an easy choice.

Blue Paddle is a pilsener lager. Pilseners (sometimes spelled “pilsners”) tend to be light, crisp, easy to drink and dry. Perfect for summer, in other words! On a side note, not only is it close to 100° in Kansas today, but Overland Park has a water boil alert on due to a water main break, so I’m getting back to my pioneering roots by subsisting on beer instead of that dirty water! 🙂

Pilseners were first brewed in Bohemia in the 1800’s and they spawned a whole new movement in beer. In England, where thick, dark porters were the norm during this time, the German pilseners took over a large part of the market, causing English brewers to dream up (thank God!) the English pale ale style.

Blue Paddle pours super clear with a yellow-gold-straw color. Nice full, fluffy white head and a lot of bubbles in the beer. If you weren’t paying attention, you’d think you were served a Bud Light or something, although the color is deeper and more robust. It’s a nice-looking beer after I’ve been used to dark and cloudy stuff for so long.

Aroma is very mild with a little maltiness and maybe a touch of noble hops. The first sip is just wonderful. I’ve always found the first sip of a pilsener to be the best one! This is one of those flavors that takes me back to the 1970’s when my dad would sneak me a little taste of his Pabst or whatever he was drinking at the time (back when macro beers at least tasted like real beers). It’s a great memory and pilseners always take me right back to that time!

Each sip is malty with a good hop balance, and the aftertaste is all noble hops and slightly bitter for a very dry finish. Pilseners are case studies in proper beer balance and Blue Paddle is a great example. Lots of carbonation, a dry, almost astringent finish, and a touch of sweetness tempered by a touch of bitterness. This is what a summer beer is all about. Very refreshing, easy to drink, simple but still with flavor to explore and enjoy. The 4%-ish ABV is a nice side-benefit in that it is a session-able beer and you can stay hydrated throughout a long summer day without ending up face down in the pool! If you’re on the fence about a beer to pick up for this holiday weekend, make things easy on yourself and grab a six-pack of Blue Paddle!