I don’t remember the first beer I ever drank but it was almost certainly some sort of lager guzzled from a can. Back in the 1980s my dad would have a four pack from the supermarket every Thursday night and, if I was lucky*, one of the shiny beer vessels would be prized from the plastic rings and handed to me. Thursday quickly became my favourite day of the week.
Although I don’t recall what brand of lager first passed my lips, the three most likely contenders were Harp, Skol and Hofmeister. Each equally non-descript and with advertising jingles way more memorable than the beer.** I loved the sound and feel of the ring pulls ripping from the can, the first waft of boozy danger, and the cold, fizzy taste of dirty aluminium.
When I was old enough to get away with buying my own beer I gravitated towards cans of ale – the same metallic taste but a slightly more prominent flavour of beeriness to go along with it. By the time I was drinking in pubs I rarely touched lager, and since then have only returned to the canned stuff in times of desperation.
Around thirty years since that first dabble with malt ‘n’ hops, I find myself writing this on Thursday evening with a can of lager in my hand. Not, however, one of those lagers from the past – this is from a relatively new brewery and, most unlikely for lager, it has been brewed in London.
Founded in 2013, Fourpure like to take inspiration from some of the world’s most popular beer styles and make them their own. This dry hop pils takes its cue from classic German beers but has a more generous selection of hops than German pils traditionalists might expect. It looks exactly as you would imagine from a can of lager – a clean, light golden colour with a fluffy, froth of head. It has a slightly sweet, malt flavour that’s again reminiscent of other canned lagers, but it also has a more unexpected floral freshness to the aroma.
The first few swigs are very lagery. There’s a hint of dirtiness to the taste, which I’m pinning on the can, but that could be my nostalgic eyes telling my taste buds what to expect. However, a few glugs in, its quality begins to shine through. As those extra hops make their bitter impression known, and the lager malt flavours become more familiar with each swig, the overall flavour becomes more rounded. It is increasingly refreshing and has a decent dry finish that cleans away any lingering suspicions of metallic influence. I usually find that cheap lagers start off satisfyingly thirst quenching before rapidly deteriorating to gassy, sickly affairs; this, by contrast, improves with every taste. It has a robustness that’s present in all good pils, again marking it out from many of the ubiquitous flimsy lagers that dominate British pubs, and it feels a touch boozier than its 4.7%.
This is a decent pils given a hoppy twist and I’m enjoying it. Canned lager still wouldn’t be my first choice for an evening beer, but if this were around in the 1980s then perhaps I would’ve been in less of a hurry to make the shift to ale.
*If I was especially lucky, I would also get a pig’s trotter to myself, which would be boiled and the bits of meat slowly picked out while swigging my booze. Kids these days…
Beer supplied by Beer52
Brewery: Fourpure, Bermondsey, London
Beer name: Dry Hop Pils
Hops used: Saaz, Sterling, Summer, Motueka
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