Episode 82: pFriem Family Brewers’ Josh Pfriem: Nuance and Subtlety is the Key in Everything from Pilsner to Wood-Aged Sours
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For Josh Pfriem of pFriem Family Brewers, every beer they make—from Pilsner to wood-aged sour—expresses a brewing philosophy that prizes nuance and depth. Still, he’s amazed that craft beer today is embracing lagers to the degree that it is. “If you had told me back in 2011 that pFriem Pilsner in 2019 was going to be our flagship beer, I probably would have passed out from excitement or never believed that would have happened. It’s awesome to be at this point.” In this multifaceted conversation, Pfriem discusses how they build character with malt in pale lagers, how their goal for hops in Pilsner is to taste “like springtime running through a field of wildflowers,” balancing tradition with contemporary techniques like whirlpool hopping, how carbon dioxide is the under appreciated fifth ingredient in beer, why brewing wood-aged sours is more akin to winemaking, targeting acidity levels and controlling acidity to make better sour beers, timing specific styles for stages in a barrel’s life cycle, fruit additions for sour beers, the beauty of blending, and the benefit of constant iteration and improvement. “If we brew Pilsner 200-300 times over the course of the year, we can make incremental changes that make it better and better and better,” says Pfriem. “Making beer is great. But making it better is even more great.”
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