When a brewery opens it features certain beers that are always available. These are flagship beers and appeal to a majority of beer drinkers. Earthbound Beer is a brewery that I’ve cherished for, in its own way, doing the opposite. Proudly, the brewery brews weird beer, but the is one beer they make, dead on style, that in my view has achieved, Flagship status. All-Purpose Pilz.
Earthbound’s All-Purpose Pilz
All-Purpose Pilz is a Polish style pilsner, inspired by Zywiec, a Polish lager.
“This is one of those dumb Proustian things where emotional memory is entirely tied up with the beer and the style,” said Earthbound master mind Stuart Keating. “When I was 16, I worked in the rides department at Frontier City where they had this insane program where they imported foreign college students as “foreign exchange interns.” I end up becoming friends with Zuzanna, one of the Polish students, and we kept up a correspondence throughout the rest of my time in high school. When I graduated from high school my dad offered to take me to Germany and was able to visit Zuzanna and her family in Poland.”
Keating was introduced to Zywiec by Zuzanna, her sister Dorata and their friend Agata, who was working as a tour guide for the city of Warsaw at the time.
“The feeling of limitless potential, of sunshine and being treated like an adult by smart, funny older girls who I thought were the coolest people on the planet is, for me, inextricably tied up with the aroma and flavor of Zywiec. Even though it’s hard to find (I found it once in Canada while bicycling from Portland, OR to Portland, ME and lugged a case of it on my bicycle trailer, and once in California while accepting an award from RateBeer), the sensory memory is still as vivid as it was 18 years ago,” said Keating.
All Purpose Pilz
Polish style pilsners are drier and more hop-forward than Czech pilsners or Bohemian pilsners. Keating uses Polish hops, which have a long tradition in brewing and were once one of the primary hops used by Schlafly. Additionally, Earthbound uses a swiss lager yeast that is exceptionally neutral.
“I sometimes dislike some of the major lager strains and I really wanted this beer to be an expression of everything I liked about Zywiec so I am glad I could track down yeast that really sets up the hops and gets out of the way,” said Keating.
The name All-Purpose Pilz
Earthbound had plans to add a lager to its core lineup (and hence a lager to put in cans) for years, but just never had the tank space and they wanted to have the time to develop a really excellent recipe.
“We wanted this beer to stand out with a label that didn’t look like our normal lineup labels and we wanted a name that signified this was an excellent but unfussy beer,” said Keating. “We are known for weird beers and experimenting with style and ingredients and we wanted something that said “this is special.”
They kicked around all sorts of ideas, and at one point Keating wanted to put it in 12 oz gold cans and call it “Goldie Coldie.
“But when I was reading about Zywiec the term pilz kept popping up and Jeff Siddons, said “like kilz. the paint.” We looked at the label for a paint of kilz and realized it said ALL-PURPOSE and were like “oh heyyyyyyyy!”
Robin Johnson did the label and it is one of Keating’s favorites. It’s bold, very distinctive and simple. “The disclosures and information you need to include on a beer can work really well with the layout used on a can of paint, it turns out,” said Keating.
Intersting Side Note
The TTB asked Earthbound to explain what they meant by “INTERIOR AND EXTERIOR PILSNER” (the KILZ paint can says INTERIOR AND EXTERIOR PAINT” and they thought it scanned well). The brewery’s reply “it’s a beer you can drink outside while mowing the lawn or inside while cooking dinner” and that satisfied them. Also the ad agency that does promo work for Kilz got really excited and they mailed them a bunch of beer.
On the pour: Pours clear with a white head, good retention. Color is on the yellow side of gold.
On the nose: Lubelski and Marynka hops provide a lot of unique floral, bergamot and tea aromas, with some noble hop spiciness.
On the taste: The beer has a very clean cereal flavor with a pronounced hop bitterness–it’s less hoppy than an IPA, but probably more hoppy than some of the sweeter pale ales out there. This beer finishes crisp and is Earthbound’s lowest ABV canned beerr.