what: Victory Prima Pils(5.3 percent ABV) and Bell’s Lager of the Lakes (5 percent ABV)

cost: about $10 each per six-pack at major retailers

Victory Brewing’s Prima Pils is generally regarded as one of the best craft examples of the Bohemian pilsner style. Bell’s Brewing is an outstanding craft brewer, and it brews its own interpretation of the style, Lager of the Lakes. I decided to evaluate the Bell’s version by comparing it with Pima Pils in a side-by-side tasting.

Both beers are light gold in color and generate a creamy white collar of foam when poured. The defining characteristic of this style is the flavor of the Saaz hop, a flavor that is difficult to describe but is generally described as spicy and clean. Both of these equally feature this beguiling spicy flavor overlaying a hint of grainy malt in the background. Hop bitterness in both is quite firm but not harsh. Both are medium bodied on the palate.

These are simple beers, uncomplicated but crisp and refreshing. Candidly, they are almost identical, both skillfully crafted and expertly balanced.

Fresh stock of Prima Pils and Lager of the Lakes have arrived in the Columbia area and should be available at the major retail outlets. These should be enjoyed soon, because this beer style does not age well. That is the reason imported Bohemian pilsners frequently do not taste very good — they are old and oxidized by the time they reach your local retailer. Cheers!

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