Beers Reviews

Beer Spotlight: Pilsner Urkel from Spindletap Brewery

Anyone else getting bored with IPAs? Yeah right, me neither. While I still love my hop forward ‘bitter beer face’ IPAs, I find myself crawling back to traditional styles of craft beer more often lately. Perhaps it’s simplicity of cracking open a beer that you know you can enjoy a few per session with no lingering after flavors. Perhaps it’s just the natural evolution of a craft beer nerd. We will never know the true reason but the almighty beer gods must have overheard me yelling at clouds as one of my favorite IPA producers in town surprised me with this release of Pilsner Urkel, a traditional Czech style pilsner.

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Pilsner Urkel from Spindletap Brewery

Houston’s haze king, Spindletap Brewery is known for its juice forward india pale ales like as Houston Haze IPA, Juiceton DIPA ( also coming back this weekend!) and my long time favorite and recent love letter recipient, Heavy Hands Double IPA. Recently, I’ve noticed this brewery has been stepping out of the brew box, adding more focus to traditional beer styles for their taproom menu. While hazy New England IPAs continue to dominate the market, Spindletap has a talented team of brewers committed to keeping it old school too. As a result, you can find some of the cleanest drinkable lagers in town right along side of these juice bombs. How’s THAT for beer diversity? Calavera Lager, Spindletap’s Vienna style lager (4.8% ABV) can be found in 12oz cans (perfect for shotgunning btw..) and on draft everyday in the taproom. Looking for something even lighter? Rumor has it that a few new ‘non beers’ may coming our way from Spindletap too – more on that later, maybe! Regardless, that’s not why we are here today…..

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Spindletap’s Pilsner Urkel is a nod of respect and beer geek admiration to the famous Pilsner Urquell, a lager beer originally brewed by Urquell Brewery in Plzeň, Czech Republic in 1842. This beer was the world’s first pale lager brewed with Saaz hops, pilsner malts and can be easily recognized for its shining clarity, golden color and clean old fashioned beer taste. The name and style is used freely but in the Czech Republic, only the original Pilsner Urquell is labeled a true pilsner, according to BJCP guidelines. After a quick chat with Andrew Tonder, head brewer at Spindletap Brewery, he explained that the brewing team will be continuing to focus on these traditional styles so that there is a beer for everyone who visits. Even those that don’t prefer hazy beers. Brewed with the same Saaz hops and pilsner malts as a base for its light body, this beer is a ode to all great German beer styles that continue to be enjoyed today.

No surprise here, this beer matches the appearance of its inspiration beer with golden straw hue and long lasting creamy white head. This beer is dry and cwiiiissspppy and leaves behind a slight corn flavor on the finish. Slightly floral on the nose from the noble hops, this beer also carries a beautiful aroma of breadiness, as there is no mistaking the complexity of the malt as you sip. The hop bitterness is prominent but not overwhelming. Nothing too fancy on the beer’s medium body but its medium to low carbonation makes for a very approachable beer, including non craft drinkers. This beer will make a perfect pair for your crawfish fingers for the upcoming season. Not to mention, the can art is super clever and eye catching, featuring one of my favorite 90s sitcom characters, Steve Urkel complete with his red suspenders and signature stance. Urkel once said in the Family Matters episode, “I can’t help it, Laura. I’m drawn to you. Like a moth to a flame. A bee to a blossom. A mouse to cheese.”

Absolutely! My thoughts exactly, Urkel.

This was a fine example of a traditional Czech Pilsner beer and I am excited to see more similar styles from the brewery soon. By the way, there is still some Urkel available for you to try so swing by the brewery and try it on tap or grab a 16oz 4 pack to go! The remaining cans from the release are going quick so don’t sleep on this one! Cheers!

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Color and head on Pilsner Urkel


Native tejana with a love for double IPAs and craft beer shenanigans. Check out her podcast "Draught Queens' for unfiltered beer sensory tasting and industry interviews.

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