Nimbus A-1 Pilsner

Nimbus Brewing Company reviews:  Red Ale, Dirty Güera Blonde Ale, Oatmeal Stout, Old Monkey Shine


Well, I almost had a very exciting day thanks to the Nimbus A-1.  It was bound to happen eventually, I’m sure, so today the stars aligned and I finally spilled beer on my Macbook.  I only spilled an ounce or two, but it was enough to shut my computer down for a good half hour while I frantically tried to dry it off before any of the intricate – and insanely expensive – parts were damaged beyond my fiscal repair.  Luckily, the A-1 was light enough and dried fast enough that nothing that wasn’t broken before (ahem, stupid trackpad) was affected negatively.  If anything, I think my computer rebooted faster than it ever has…I had no idea that sharing beer with my trusty Macbook would make it more amicable to my desires.  Beer really does wonders in the least expected places.

So, enough about my clumsiness – though I am keeping my beer just within arms reach across the table so should I decide to knock it over again, it won’t hurt anything but the beer (blasphemy, I know, but it’s blasphemy I can afford), I can’t help but notice that it’s been a while since I’ve reviewed an Arizona beer.  My last local review was on January 11th, though, so I guess that’s not too long ago.  Maybe it’s just that it’s been a while since I’ve reviewed a Nimbus beer – yep, October 22nd.  Wow, well, apparently it’s time for a review with some history then.

Way back on October 28th, I tried and reviewed Four Peaks Sunbru.  While doing research on the beer, I came across some interesting information about the origins of the name “Sunbru” and why Four Peaks referred to it as a “tribute beer.”  Long story short (though you can read my summary here and read the original story of both Sunbru and A-1 here), Arizona Brewing Company started brewing a beer they called Sunbru Beer in October 1933.  Less than 6 months later, in April 1934, the brewery was bought out and Sunbru was replaced by a beer named Apache, which caused people to inadvertently refer to Arizona Brewing Co as Apache Brewing.  The beer titled A-1 didn’t replace Apache beer until January 1943 but was credited to saving the brewery from certain bankruptcy after changing ownership no less than 3 times previously.  In the end, and after trouble with both Anheuser-Busch (for using an eagle on their original logo that was similar to AB’s) and Coors (for advertising and appealing to the same customer base), they were bought out by Carling Brewing Company from Cleveland, Ohio in October 1964 and the brand was lost forever.  I find that learning about all of this history really gives a great image of how rich Arizona’s beer culture is; though I’ve also learned that the original A-1 brand beer was heavily watered down and not so delicious.  I think it’s more about the sentimentality of the brand that people have been missing, so thanks to Nimbus owner Jim Counts and former Beverage House owner Eli Drakulich who, along with his brother-in-law Kirby Davis, owns the A-1 name, for working together to bring a local favorite back to the market. (More information available from the Arizona Daily Star and AZCentral).

So with that information in mind, and the knowledge that much has changed since this beer has been produced – including the recipe, here are my thoughts on the new Nimbus Brewing Co A-1 Pilsner.

Poured into my fancy crystal Pilsner glass (it was a random splurge), the A-1 appeared a slightly hazy, deep golden honey color – otherwise known as melichrous – with straw yellow accents when held up to the light.  A fluffy two-finger thick egg-shell colored head was piled on top and it quietly fell to a thin, soapy island that blanketed the top of the liquid while a medium collar ran around the outside.  The island slowly shrank, but never fully disappeared and any lacing followed the beer down the glass as I drank it, leaving behind clean walls.

The nose was predominantly a huge bouquet of floral hops and pale and grainy malts.  Quite a bit of sweet grass mingled cheerfully underneath a lightly tart lemony cover with hints of yeast and something reminiscent of pear and kiwi, which is a first for me.  There was a definite sour-bread dough aroma that held its presence in the forefront, though as it warmed, there was something that smelled like dried corn – almost like what you’d expect to find in a barnyard or silo – but it’s not completely off-putting, and actually makes me yearn for the dairy farmlands of Wisconsin in the summer.  Quite odd considering they state that they didn’t use any corn in the brewing process.

The taste was very bright and fruity right from the start, offering itself up with a tart lemon, smooth kiwi, and crisp pears – much like the nose.  It carried along a light bitterness, but otherwise it was ridiculously smooth thanks to the pervasive rich grainy malts.  A surprising amount of sweet fresh cut grass also flowed between the fruits and malts, driving this beer from pilsner to pale lager, and has been continuously labeled as such across many product descriptions.  A-1 offers a light mouthfeel with spicy, crisp carbonation that keeps it on the lighter side of a medium body – as well as very, very refreshing despite its slightly dry, faintly lingering bitterness at the end.  I think the next time I need a beer for the weekend, I will pick up a six-pack and easily be able to finish all of them off.  This is a very summery beer, nice and light and invigorating – not to mention, there are not that many lagers out there in the local craft beer market, so this is a welcome escape from all of the ales.

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