Cycle 12 – Item 178
2 (Fri) July 2021
World Series of Pilsner Finale
at the cabin
-Changchon, Seowon, Hoengseong, Gangwon, Republic of Korea-
GMTD World Series of Pilsner (7 of 7) (see also WSP)
This project conducted a series of taste-tests on pilsner-style lagers from around the world.
The contenders comprised 16 mass-market brands widely available in Korea, each selected with personal preference or general popularity in mind: 4 from Korea, 4 from Europe, 5 from Asia, 3 from the Americas.
The tests were conducted piecemeal over a period of roughly 2 months, whenever I had some free time and the accompanying meal seemed appropriate.
Following the quarterfinal round of 16, the 4 finalists: Heineken, Pilsner Urquell, Estrella Damm, and Tiger.
Following an intermediary retesting, 2 additional wild cards: San Miguel and Beck’s.
This evening, the semifinals and finals were conducted back-to-back. Let’s finish it already!
I was happy to be joined by my cousin PJS. As the earlier rounds clearly indicated, my tastes run towards the richer, deeper, hoppier European styles, so perhaps PJS – who is as Korean as they come – would provide a counterbalance. I even added a wilder wild card Cass, long ago eliminated in the quarterfinals, just to see how far it would get with a Korean judge on the panel.
The semifinalists were divided into 2 groups:
Group 1: Beck’s vs Estrella Damm vs Tiger
Group 1: Heineken vs Pilsner Urquell vs San Miguel (vs Cass)
In the groupings, each beer was tasted blind and scored once on an overall 4.0-scale. The beer with the highest score, combined from both judges, moved on to the final round.
After the conclusion of Group 1, we took a 1-hour break and conducted Group 2.
Group 1 (me + PJS)
- Beck’s (3.0 + 3.0 = 6.0)
- Tiger (3.5 + 2.0 = 5.5)
- Estrella Damm (2.5 + 2.5 = 5.0)
Group 2 (me + PJS)
- Pilsner Urquell (3.5 + 2.0 = 5.5)
- Heineken (3.0 + 2.5 = 5.5)
- San Miguel (2.5 + 2.0 = 4.5)
- Cass (2.0 + 2.0 = 4.0)
Whereas Pilsner Urquell and Heineken tied in combined points, and I didn’t have enough beer for a tie-breaker (I had only brought 1 can of each contender), I called for both to advance to the finals.
Individually, we blind-tasted the final three beers and ranked them first, second, and third. The top choice was allocated 3 points, the middle choice 1 point, and the last choice 0 points, then the points from both judges were combined.
- Pilsner Urquell (3 + 3 = 6)
- Beck’s (1 + 0 = 1)
- Heineken (0 + 1 = 1)
How perfectly poetic that the inventor of pilsner should win the World Series of Pilsner, 180 years later. It has long been one of my favorites, so I was glad to secure affirmation. The outcome would’ve turned out the same had I done the tasting alone, so the win is even more convincing with my cousin’s vote.
Throughout the competition, I’ve been pleasantly surprised to see Heineken consistently win high points. The brand is sometimes dismissed by cynics, just because of its global ubiquity. As WSP suggests, perhaps the popularity is well-deserved.
The Top 3 finish of Beck’s shows that I had good taste in beers even as a college student.
Overall, I was comforted to confirm that most of the beers were just fine to drink. I won’t complain to find them on a menu.
Generally, I was disappointed but not surprised to see the Korean contenders do so poorly. This was largely a reflection of my own dislike of thin, bland beers, and my cousin seemed to agree. I was pleased to discover that newcomer Terra is quite good: rich, balanced, unlike any Korean beer in history. I realized that most Korean beers have silly names that sound vaguely like words, but aren’t: e.g., Cass, Terra, Kloud, Hite, Fitz, Filite, Filgood. (Same with Korean cars names: e.g., Ioniq, Sorento, Avante, Elantra, Veracruz, Atoz, Starex, Starius, Korando, Equus, Actyon, Rexton, Kyron.)
(See also BOOZE)
(See also GLOBAL FOOD GLOSSARY)
(See also RESTAURANTS IN KOREA)