A Hop Head's Imperial Pilsner
A Review of Over the Pils by Magic Hat Brewing Co.
Posted on 9/26/2012 by Chops
In recent months, I have found myself fascinated by the Imperial Pilsner, a relatively new beer style on the craft brew circuit. Pilsners are widely regarded as light and refreshing brews, so the concept of an imperial version leaves many beer fans scratching their heads. The big beer companies have long since sucked the life out of the pilsner style, which is unfortunate to most beer drinkers because it creates a rather large learning curve with imperial versions. Before sampling these beastly brews, it really helps to get your bearings with some quality pilsners (I recommend Victory's Prima Pils, Stoudt's Pils, North Coast's Scrimshaw, or Mama's Little Yella Pils from Oskar Blues, to name a few). At this point I consider my pilsner palate properly attuned, so I've been freely exploring the land of imperials. Next up: Magic Hat's Over the Pils.

In the glass, this beer has a bright, thick, hazy, lemony yellow coloration with a slight orange tinting. Lots of adjectives, I know, but they are all needed for a proper visual. It comes with a creamy white head that actually has good retention. At this point we have long since left the standard pilsner style. It's not difficult to see the transforming powers of an imperial version. On the nose, I detected some faint lemony citrus notes. The aroma was quite thin and there was little else to be found, but I will note that the aroma was remarkably clean. I found no metallic undertones at all, which was a pleasant surprise.

You can tell right off the bat that this beer has a very big body for a pilsner. Imperial versions tend to be thicker than their standard counterparts and Magic Hat's version is no different. Oddly enough, the body may be hefty and bold, but the overall mouthfeel is surprisingly dry. It also has an aggressive hop profile that quickly asserts itself. This beer actually drinks a lot like a dry IPA. The core flavor traits are still present, i.e. lemony citrus and pale malts, just imagine them super hopped up. The finish is quite dry and leaves behind a crisp hop bite. To be honest, this beer reminds me a lot of a West Coast IPA and I would have probably identified it as such if I was blindfolded.

Overall, Magic Hat's Over the Pils Imperial Pilsner is a really tasty brew with an edgy personality. It's definitely one of the more aggressive versions I have experienced, which isn't a bad thing. This is a hop head's pilsner, so grab some if you see it. Trust me, you won't be disappointed. On the flip side, this beer is probably too powerful for novices, so best to stay clear of it. Most seasoned drinkers will enjoy this brew as an ornery interpretation of the Imperial Pilsner style. I definitely enjoyed this brew and would happily enjoy more in the future. I tip my drinking hat to Magic Hat, nicely done fellas.

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Over the Pils by Magic Hat Brewing Co.
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