Reviewed: Da Shootz! American Pilsner
Official description: DES-cahooties? DAY-shoots? DES-schwett-ays? We’ve heard it all over the 30 years we’ve been brewing craft beer. So…we’re making it easy this time around. Simple in design, this beer is made to pair with DOING! There’s really no activity or non-activity that wouldn’t pair perfectly with this beer. Leave the beer creation obstacles and overthinking to us. Cheers! Malt: Bohemian Pilsner, Pilsner, Carapils. Hops: Tettnang, Lemondrop, Azacca. 4% ABV, 25 IBUs.
Deschutes Brewery – Da Shootz! American Pilsner – 12oz can served in stemless snifter – 4% ABV
Da Shootz! is the newest beer to join Deschutes’ year-round portfolio. I was a bit skeptical of this beer at first because Deschutes already has a phenomenal pilsner in their lineup already, Pacific Wonderland Lager. Not only do they seem to overlap, but Pacific Wonderland is remarkably good. I called it “one of the best beers they’ve ever made” in my review. So why come out with another?
Well, Da Shootz! is a significantly smaller beer clocking in at 4% and 25 IBUs vs. Pacific Wonderland’s 5.5% and 40 IBUs. Da Shootz! also targets a different audience. Take its branding which snubs the brewery’s snowy mountain design language in favor of something you typically don’t associate with Oregon, a tropical rainforest. It also lacks the producer’s name in any easily legible place to make it stand out as its own entity. Some may remember that Bell’s used to do this with Two Hearted Ale and Stone stills does it with Arrogant Bastard. Even the style of beer is hidden from view. All other Deschutes beers have a name followed by the style as in Black Butte Porter, Mirror Pond Pale Ale, or Obsidian Stout. The word pilsner or even lager isn’t displayed in a meaningful way. There’s a reason for all of this: Da Shootz! is hoping to compete in a different segment that craft beer is just now beginning to target, light lager. Or as my local grocery store displays them, Budget Beer. Da Shootz! is actually gunning for the likes of Miller Lite and Bud Light. So how does it do?
I’m going to say it right out front that Da Shootz! is best enjoyed ice cold and straight from the can. (I told you it competes directly with macro lagers.) Pouring into a glass yields a beautiful beer. It’s extremely pale straw in color with large-bubbled, soapy looking foam that sticks around for over a minute. An oily sheen on the bubbles hints at some hop oils in suspension. With such great looks, why drink it straight from the can? Well, because the aroma isn’t great.
If you elect glassware, Da Shootz! immediately has quite a pronounced volatile nose that reminds me of lemon-scented toilet bowl cleaner. That then dissipates to reveal a stronger DMS character (normal for pilsner malt) that brings creamed corn. There is also a whiff of margarine atop Wonder Bread. Dig deep enough and there are zesty notes of lemon and even lemonade from the aroma hops. However, there is too much conflict for me. Since this beer prides itself as being utilitarian, drinking straight from the can ends up being a win-win.
Diving right in, Da Shootz! is snappy and refreshing with just a bit of doughiness and quite the grassy hop bite. Carbonation is high and the finish is quite dry. In fact, this is far less sweet than I would have imagined with sugar at a 2/10 level. A longish, bitter aftertaste is a nice surprise versus some creamed corn and white sugar – typical in my experience for light lagers. The takeaway is that Da Shootz! is a clean beer with none of the usual brewing flaws that easily manifest in beers this light bodied. I found it to be best suited as a post-workout beer or after working outside on the lawn.
Da Shootz! is a bold move for this brewery and the final result is surprisingly delicious. I think it succeeds in its marketing goals of stepping outside of the craft beer umbrella and looking like a stand-alone entity. And for such a light beer, it still packs a solid punch of bitterness. The end result is something simple, refreshing, and never too bland. If you are a pilsner nerd like me, I’d still recommend Pacific Wonderland Lager, which is already perfect. But for most consumers, the lighter ABV, cheaper price tag, and energized design may be a stronger draw. It will be interesting to see how these macro competitors do over time. For now, it’s encouraging to see these regional breweries tackling the toughest segment in beer.
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