No, I didn’t buy a bunch of cheap beer to chug after I came home from the gym. I don’t think it was particularly wise of me to do that and while I like you guys (and the 5 ladies we’ve been able to confirm here) I’m not doing that for you again. At least not for free.

Nothing gets by this crowd though, and everyone here is intelligent enough to notice a pattern in that first article. On the off chance you missed it I’ll point it out: With the exception of the IPA and Daybreak those affordable but skunky beers are all Pilsners.

This is my review of Sierra Nevada Nooner Pilsner.

The Pilsner is the most common beer in the world. Some estimates I have heard but not verified, is that over 90% of the beer consumed on Earth is a Pilsner. A claim I find believable, but again not verified. It is named for it’s origin in the city of Plzen, Bohemia (Czech Republic), where it is was first brewed by Pilsner Urquell. Credited to Josef Groll, a Bavarian brewer hired by the city’s brewers to teach them to lager. At the time they were having issues with their ales spoiling and in 1838 they chose to flood the streets of Plzen with spoiled beer to dump it.

Nobody knows who it was that smuggled the Bavarian yeast out of Bavaria, but some blame a monk. What made this yeast special?  This is one of the first strains identified that fermented at the bottom of the barrel, rather than ale yeast which ferments at the top.  Ales brew at higher temperatures and often are hardy enough to handle moderate temperature fluctuations.  Lager yeast on the other hand needs a consistent temperature, often somewhat cold. Whoever smuggled out this trade secret, Groll had the yeast and in 1842 he combined it with the city’s remarkably soft well water, and generous portions of Noble Saaz hops. The result is still made to this day.

Others realized the Bohemians were on to something, so as they say–scaramoosh, scaramoosh when you do the fandango.

What is it that sets beer like this apart from the mass produced libations everyone from the Trumpeñero, to the bearded hipster that doesn’t seem to understand what irony is but claims to own it anyway, all seem consume in ridiculous quantities? I don’t know. But I have a couple theories.

The old adage is that one cannot have it good, cheap, and fast; somewhere within those three attributes, corners will be cut and compromises will be made.  The main difference between buying a luxury good from a mass produced good, it what is compromised. Not to step on anybody’s toes here, but take this for example:

Thunder Bolt and lightning

This is the revolver I purchased a few weeks ago. On the outside, it looks excellent. The finish is reasonably well polished, there are no sharp edges, the lockup and action are…okay. There are no machining marks and yes the barrel is aligned properly (I checked before I bought it). Where was the compromise? The design itself for one thing, as revolvers are really meant for a niche market, most of which with more grey hair than I and much more discernable in terms of quality. The $10 rubber grip is another as are the usable sights, which I think can be improved. Both however, can be had in the aftermarket as so that is no big deal. Where the compromise truly is to be seen, is when you pull off the sideplate:

Very, very frightening.

The trigger group is made from extruded parts rather than machined to shape from bar stock. They are heat treated for strength, which is why they look burnt. These parts rub together and are meant to grind smooth against themselves over time. The only parts that are fitted, are on the hammer, just below the sear and the hook of the trigger where they contact each other–right behind that superfluous safety device.  Once these are removed, one will find they are sitting in a gum-like mess meant to pass as lube. The inside of the frame is rough and unpolished. I knew when I bought it, that I had it cheap and fast. Together these gritty parts make for a trigger group that is terrible for the overall price of the gun. To Smith and Wesson’s credit, in order to make it good I only needed an Arkansas stone, watchmaker tools, wipes soaked in jeweler’s rouge, 5w30 and a Sunday afternoon with a Radenberger. I suppose a flashlight was also needed because I somehow managed to lose explosion diagram part #71. The result is something with much less compromise. 

The other theory? Americans only have a history going back a couple hundred years. The standards and traditions that are lauded in European culture have been built over centuries and thus their standards and expectations for certain things, like food and drink are higher. Also America was built on an idea, therefore anybody no matter where they are from can theoretically be an American so those standards and expectations get lost over time. So how is it that the Germans are able to put a better Pils to market? I’m not privy to that information to know for sure, but I would guess the compromise is price and time to some extent, because their home market is rather discerning. This is not to say an American company cannot build it to the same standard.
Sierra Nevada makes this in what I find is the more enjoyable Czech style. It is light, properly carbonated and has the crisp finish that almost everyone can enjoy. It is perfect to quench your thirst on a hot day. While it is hard to compete when the Germans give you full pint cans for the same price, it stacks up well. I will say that I liked Breakside’s version better, but it is Oroegone based so it may not be available in your area. Sierra Nevada makes theirs in California and North Carolina so its available on both coasts! Sierra Nevada Nooner Pilsner: 3.8/5