Roanoke, So Far, So Good: Olde Salem Jump German Pilsner, Olde Salem Brewery, Salem, Va.
Date: May 15 , 2019 (we’ll have to take a short pause from these daily installments to deal with some unexpected matters, but we’ll be back soon with more great beers and places to find them.
The Story— We srap up of Roanoke ramblings with this last gem from nearby Salem. Salem is something of a satellite in Roanoke’s orbit. Deschutes planned their “Roanoke” major production facility there and the minor league baseball team couldn’t fill seats without people from the bigger town down the road. But the old town has a charm that’s hard to find in more commercial and more fully developed Roanoke. Amain street holds a number of businesses, some very good restaurants and a fine brewery. There are plan s in the works to turn a former movie theater into a boutique hotel. We hope they come to fruition in time to be included in our Brews, Snooze and a Good Pair of Shoes guide to Mid-Atlantic breweries and inns. The chains off the interstate are comfortable and with some planning almost walkable (we don’t recommend it), so we’re hoping for an old town base to explore.
Olde Salem brewery is a storefront brewery and taproom on the main drag. It’s big enough to hold a crowd, but small enough so that one of the owners is usually available to talk about his passion for producing good beer. they brew a big range and like most good small craft breweries they produce most of them well, but give you at least one that hits it out of the park. Here, it’s one of the rarest of the categories in which to find a great beer — a German Style Pils. We know a bit about producing a good German Pils, having taken home both a gold and a bronze medal from the Great American Beer Festival– in different categories –with our Tuppers’ Keller Pils and what we mostly know is that it isn’t one bit easy to brew a great one. Theirs blew us away.
The Beer— Although there’s a lavender quality to the hops that would be unknown in earlier years of German Pils brewing it’s not that far out of place here and the rest of the flavor profile is remarkably authentic. It picks up some gentle spicing as it drinks and finishes with a remarkable balance between the malt and the hops. All of it’s clean. I’d be happy to find this at a small brewery in Germany.
Value — Good to very good. We paid three bucks for a quarter liter, you’d pay less by the liter for larger sizes. But even in Germany you’d be hard pressed to find a pilsner this good for any less than their $12 a liter.
Values: “fair” is a good beer at an above market price, “good” is worth the money, “very good” is a bargain, and “excellent” is a steal.