- Mike Riedel
I love it when beers contrast each other. Enjoying (or not) two beers that are completely opposite in most respects tends to bring out the unique qualities of the individual beers. I won't go as far to say they will be complementary, but they can sure make you appreciate (or dislike) their uniqueness.
2 Row Brewing Czech Pilsner: Whenever I can, I always prefer to pour my own beer, no matter if I'm at a pub or at a party; getting the beer from the bottle or can and into my glass is a big part of my enjoyment. Pilsners are especially fun to pour. Their sunny, golden hues brighten my mood every time I see them; even the ascending bubbles are akin to a Zen garden in a glass. The aromas in 2 Row's first Czech-style Pilsner are classic and simple. There are no trendy hops, just notes of floral and spicy whole-cone noble ones. Malt shines first on your palate and prominently features stale crackers, semi-sweet malt and crusty white bread. Those herbal and spicy grass undertones from the nose come in next, evening out some of the more raw flavors from the grain bill. After the Pilsner is washed clean, some residual drying from the toasty grains lingers, along with some of the more herbal aspects of the hops.
Overall: This beer mimics the flavor qualities of more full-bodied Pilsner interpretations. I give full props to 2 Row's brewers for staying on-style for this Pilsner, as opposed to making a lager and dumping IPA hops in it. It's one of the better Pilsners that you're probably not drinking, and it's definitely worth your time.
Talisman Brewing Co. Nitro Udder Chaos: This wonderfully-named milk stout pours a solid obsidian black, with the scantest of amber edges, and a nice cascading effervescence effect, eventually rendering two fingers of puffy, loose foam. It smells of roasted caramel malt, bittersweet cocoa powder, rich latte coffee, a subtle dark orchard fruitiness, vanilla beans and very plain earthy, weedy and floral noble hops. The taste is toasty and slightly sweet in the beginning, opening to a more assertive roasted flavor. The slightest hint of char adds an extra level of complexity; you'll also taste a little bit of chocolate and caramel, but not as much as suggested by the nose—very well balanced and easy-drinking. A hint of sweetness comes to the fore, but the aftertaste is fairly dry, with roasted flavors lingering on the palate long after the swallow. It could be a little stronger in overall flavor, but for the most part, really good. The carbonation is barely there, for obvious reasons: The nitro manifests a very wan-seeming frothiness, the body is a so-so middleweight that's generally smooth, with a thin, airy creaminess pretty much there from the get-go. It finishes off-dry, with a retreating chocolate, milk and malt sweetness.
Overall: This beer is great. If you don't typically like dark beers because they tend to have more roasty and smokey flavors instead of coffee and chocolate, then you'll like this offering. The nitro is amazing, and leads to a super dense and creamy head that makes the chocolate pop and subdues any bitterness completely.
Sadly, Udder Chaos is only available at Talisman's brewery pub (1258 Gibson Ave. in Ogden). Talisman's standard Udder Chaos gassed with standard carbon dioxide can be found in most grocery stores across the Wasatch Front in 22-ounce bottles. 2 Row's Czech Pilsner is a limited release that will be around until it's gone. Your best bet to snag some is to visit the source at 6850 S. 300 West in Midvale. As always, cheers!