Reviewed: Alvarado Street Palio Italian-style Pilsner
Official description: What’s an Italian-style Pilsner? The ones we’ve encountered have an unmistakably fresh Noble hop aroma; floral, tea-like, a little spicy and quite elegant. We chose to dry hop this clean lil’ nugget of a beer with German Tettnang hops. Extraordinarily drinkable with a zippy bitterness and crisp finish.
Alvarado Street Brewery – Alvarado Street Palio Italian-style Pilsner – 16oz can served in Rastal Harmony glass – 5% ABV
A few weeks ago, I made the pilgrimage up to Monterey Bay to visit some of California’s fabled Central Coast breweries like Humble Sea, Sante Adairius, and Alvarado Street. I visited the main Alvarado Street location in downtown Monterey several times during this trip since their brewpub is great for lunch and dinner. Here, I was able to have a pint of their fabled Mai Tai IPA, one of the best examples of a clear, West Coast IPA available today. But Alvarado Street brews some bang-up pilsners, too. Saazerati is possibly the best pilsner I’ve had from an American craft brewery. Palio, then, sounded intriguing with its Italian-style Pilsner tagline. Read my review of Oxbow’s Italian-style Pilsner for some background on the substyle and what it means. Thanks again to my good friend Andrew for sending these my way!
I’m reviewing Alvarado Street Palio from a 16oz can with an easy-to-read packaging date on the bottom. This particular can is about 6 weeks old at the time of review. Into my glass, Palio currently holds the Full Pint record for most ridiculous head formation caught on camera. Above a crystal clear, straw-colored liquid rises a volcanic eruption of foam that rises well over the edge of the glass in spectacular fashion. It stays like this for as long as you’ll let it, though eventually, you’ll have to destroy it to enjoy the beer underneath.
The aroma on Palio is really where this pilsner shines. It’s been dry-hopped to death with Tettnang hops, a German noble hop variety, that brings out highly unusual aromas compared with what I’m used to with dry-hopped IPAs. Off-the-bat, there’s pungent white tea that pivots to juicy kumquat and Key lime pie. Bright notes of lemon sorbet and Kaffir lime layer on top. As it reaches room temperature, there’s rye bread and caraway seed. It’s one of the best smelling beers in recent memory.
Digging in, Palio is fresh and juicy as Noble hop flavors take center stage. Kumquat marmalade, white grapes, lemongrass, and herbal tea combine for an excellent interplay of sweet and bitter flavors. There’s a surprising amount of buoyancy to this pils with a salty, Gatorade-like quenching ability. There’s just a touch of minerality that pairs with the carbonation for a refreshing mouthfeel. Base grain flavors seem to fade into the background. There’s no familiar white bread or creamed corn flavors in the background like many pale lagers. Instead, bright and juicy hop flavors continue to dominate. But overall bitterness is modest, which leaves this pale lager vulnerable to detecting the smallest of flaws be it diacetyl, DMS, or water profile issues. But Palio is flawless.
Perceived Specs for Alvarado Street Palio Italian-style Pilsner
Palio is another slam dunk pilsner from Alvarado Street. It’s super clean, ultra-refreshing, and showcases the best aromas and flavors of German Tettnang hops. You’re rewarded with an interesting mix of noble hop flavors like white tea and kumquat that are missing in most American craft beers. Its mid-range ABV and modest bitterness make this approachable and a top candidate for a regular session beer you’ll want over and over again.
VERDICT: 100 pts SUPERLATIVE
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