Twenty Thirteen was perhaps the best year for craft beer in Los Angeles yet, and there were countless new breweries opening, new taps dedicated to craft, and new craft brews on offer. It should have been difficult to decide on our pick for the best new brew of 2013, but – as any regular reader of the site can guess – Firestone Walker’s Pivo Pils easily takes the honors.
We made it a mission in 2013 to advocate for craft pilsners, and our task was made all the easier over spring when the Paso Robles brewery rolled out their newest core-brew. Pivo Pils was Brewmaster Matt Brynildson’s effort to recapture a crisp, hoppy, and unceasingly drinkable pils that he sampled on a research trip overseas. He found his inspiration in, of all places, Italy with Birrificio Italiano Tipopils – a German-style pilsner with a vibrant aroma and striking clarity. Brynildson put his stamp on the beer with an assertive dry-hopping regimen using Saphir – a new European hop variety with a fresh grassy and sharp citrus quality.
We were very lucky to experience Pivo several times throughout its development as we visited the Paso Robles brewery, and by the time the recipe and process had been dialed in, it was already one of our favorite brews. In the months since the roll-out of sixpacks, the beer has not lost any luster, and I honestly can’t get enough of its bright, crisp flavor. It’s a beer that can convert even the most stubborn lager-hating hophead into a pils-lover while simultaneously serving as one of the best gateway craft beers to come out of a regional craft brewery in years.
It’s no secret that I love craft lagers, and pilsners specifically; I spent a good chunk of 2013 writing about them for a variety of different outlets. I especially like this advice that ran at Menuism about why the pils is the best beer when you can decide what beer to order. Pivo Pils is everything that I want in a craft pils, and I hope it help launch a new craft lager revolution.
I also wrote about three of the most important LA brews in 2013 for the Daily Dish, and that piece mentions two of the other frontrunners for the title of Beer of Tomorrow Beer of the Year 2013, but while Naughty Sauce is all the rage, and Heal the Bay was an IPA that changed the game for Golden Road, those beers are not near as refined, dialed-in, or close to beery-perfection as Pivo. And the judges at this year’s Great American Beer Festival agree with me; they awarded Pivo a Gold Medal in the pilsner category.
A couple other honorable mentions on the year would be Beachwood Brewing’s thunderous tropical hop-bomb Amalgamator (and the fresh hop version was particularly mind-blowing), Monkish’s subtle and refreshing Dat Moi (another lager!), and the first bottle release of Eagle Rock Brewing’s Yearling sour brown ale.
UPDATE 2/4/14: We’re not alone in our opinion of Pivo Pils! The hoppy lager was also voted “Best Craft Beer of 2013” by readers of The Full Pint beer website (beating Noble Ale Works’ Naughty Sauce by just six votes)!
What was your pick for Beer of the Year?