THIS is the first Beer of the Month, an ongoing column spotlighting the best, most notable brews we’re finding in Southern California. Beer has always been the drink of sociability, but it’s a lot more than that now. Many beer lovers, of course, are aware of the possibilities of pairing beer and food, and craft brewers are emphasizing this affinity with each new release.
Not only are pubs and lounges featuring an ever-wider variety of fresh beers on tap, but many fine-dining restaurants put together beer lists as thoughtfully as they choose their wine lists. A growing number of more casual food-forward cafes offer sophisticated selections too. And fine liquor stores and wine shops pride themselves on having a well-chosen array of distinguished imported and craft beers.
Although the news lately has been about the increase in the price of beer (among other reasons, there’s a temporary hops shortage), it’s still a bargain among fine beverages. More and more, you’ll find that you can drink better on a budget by ordering a lager, an ale (pale or otherwise), a wheat beer, bock, porter, stout, trippel -- or one of the many other styles of beer on the market.
Look for Beer of the Month on the last Wednesday of each month.
Victory Prima Pils
Here’s an impressive lager from a small-town Pennsylvania brewery that deserves to be better known out here. Serious craft beer followers are already quite aware of Victory Brewing -- it was the people’s favorite at last October’s Great American Beer Fest in Denver, where the crowd roared approval when Victory took a gold medal for its Oktoberfest beer and the silver in the German-style Pilsener category with this brew.
Prima Pils (pronounced “preema pilss”) is a broad-shouldered sort of lager, 5.3% alcohol by volume, made with Pilsener malt and whole German and Czech hop flowers (hence the flower on the label). Though it has balance and delicacy, it’s maltier and hoppier than the Pilsener designation might lead you to expect. It would go as well with a roast as with pizza.
Price: $8 to $12 per six-pack
Style: A larger-than-life Pilsener
Where you find it: Beverage Warehouse in L.A., (310) 306-2822, www.beverage warehouse.com; Cap ‘n’ Cork Jr. Market in Los Angeles, (323) 665-1260; Red Carpet Wine Merchants in Glendale, (818) 247-5544, www.redcarpetwine.com; Wally’s Wine & Spirits, (310) 475-0606, www.wally wine.com.