The beer that stumps the current "beer experts" hit the taps a few weeks ago at Notch, the 4% ABV Czech Pale Lager. If I had a Crown for every time I heard "but pilsner is already a session beer" I'd be slightly wealthier. No son, in the home of pilsner, there are a range of pilsner strengths. And the pilsner strength most consumed in the country that consumes more beer per capita than any in the world? The lower strength version, known as Desítka, or roughly translated to English as "Tenner".

Why Desítka (or "Tenner")? It is the density of the beer previous to fermentation (10 degrees Plato), and that yields a 4% ABV beer. Too much info, I know. But it is session beer. A SESSION PILSNER. They really do exist, in spite of what the beer expert tells you.

Also, this humble beer challenges notions that a lower ABV lager is simple in character or easy to produce. It is quite the opposite. A triple decoction of Czech floor malted barley takes 11 hours in the brewhouse, and a long cold fermentation and lagering time takes another 7 weeks (while it also naturally carbonates). This yields a delicate beer with a depth of character that begs you for one more, but it never fatigues the palate and always excites it.

We are also serving it through our Czech faucets that we imported from Plzeň. This method of dispense creates a big thick creamy head that lasts for days, yet retains the bright carbonation you expect in a lager. And it is served in a mug, because that's how it's done in the home of pilsner. That pilsner glass you've always been told to use? A very rare sight in the home of pilsner.

Also, the Czechs don't call it Pilsner, it's a Pale Lager.

- Author: Chris