There are very few occasions that don’t pair well with a refreshing beer. Kicking back at a football game? Reach for a pilsner. Just finished a marathon? Seek out a light lager.
One single descriptor could be used for the above styles: “crispy.” The term refers to beers characterized by a light bitterness and refreshing taste, according to brewer Jesse Ferguson, owner of Brooklyn-based distillery and brewery Interboro Spirits and Ales. “Crispiness is sort of a bite — a hop bite,” he says.
Ferguson says the term typically refers to lagers — specifically, pilsners — and beers that serve a particular sharpness and clean taste on the palate. When making beers in this style, brewers aim for a “bright” profile, translucent appearance, and no signs of yeast bitterness, he says. The flavor profile should also be dry in taste, with little residual sugar or perceived sweetness.
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The resurgence of this style has spawned the slang name “crispy boi,” and drinkers have flocked to these beers following the wave of hazy IPAs that have dominated tap handles and bottle shops.
“After IPAs shifted into juiciness, sweetness, and full-bodied tropical flavors, there was a void,” Ferguson says. “People realized they needed the crispy pilsners back to get that bite. That was the rise of the ‘crispy bois.’”
This type of beer comes into its own at mealtimes, acting as a palate-cleanser when paired with entrées. Ferguson recommends sipping crispy beers with food that features bold, fatty flavors, such as rich Thai dishes, greasy hamburgers, and spicy chicken wings. Those who already enjoy sipping a dry Champagne or Gin & Tonic might also favor a crisp beer, he says.
While the profile of crispy beers is relatively simple compared to the numerous IPA variations or full-bodied stouts, Ferguson says they shouldn’t be written off as boring — nor are they an easy option for brewers.
“The problem with crispy beers is that they’re so simple, any sort of flaws in the production that create off flavors can totally spoil [them],” he says.
As with all beers, the best way to learn more about this style is through experience. So crack open a “crispy boi,” and enjoy the exploration!