By Mark Tichenor, Beer Correspondent
American beer fans are fortunate; the best and most famous craft brews are available from coast to coast. Still, it's a pleasure to find excellent beers brewed and served on a small scale, with a local ethic. Some of the finest are only available at a singular time and place.
That's the case with McBane's Unfiltered Expo Pils, brewed as a collaboration between Joe McBane, owner of Rochester's Tap and Mallet gastropub, and Bruce Lish, brewer at Custom Brewcrafters of Honeoye Falls, New York. Brewed to coincide with the Tap and Mallet's recent Real Beer Expo, this versatile pils excels as a summer quencher and companion to a wide range of food. "I wanted it to be light and refreshing," McBane explains, "but I also wanted something a bit different, so I thought, why not a Keller pils?"
“Keller” is the German word for “cellar.” When applied to beer, the term has rustic, hearty connotations. In keeping with this, Expo Pils remains in its less refined, unfiltered state, exchanging the crystal clarity normally associated with pilsner for a hazy, swirling suspension that's as noticeable to the palate as the eye. It's like the difference between a fine French white loaf and a chunk of artisan rye bread.
Lish's skill at the brewkettle keeps the Expo Pils squarely aligned with Czech Pilsners, with a bold Saaz hop bite that stands up to strongly flavored foods and lingers, beckoning for another sip. A touch of lemongrass adds the faintest of citric notes without being so heavy-handed as to put the drinker in mind of a moist towelette.
Unfiltered Expo Pils is the latest in a series of seasonal collaborations between the Tap and Mallet and small breweries in the region. "I don’t want to commit myself to one brewery and one house character," says McBane. "I want something different and intriguing every season.”
In that sense, Expo Pils hits the mark. Brewed in a small enough batch to remain true to McBane’s and Lish's wisdom, the beer does not need to conform to broader public aesthetic; those who get it will get it, and that's just fine.
After all, it's a mayfly among beers, only available at this unique place, for a painfully short time.