I know that Porter is usally darker than Pils, but both have that beery smell and leave a bitter taste in your mouth. Someone said the difference was that Porter had burnt malt and Pils bruised malt. Is that right? It sounds odd to me. Why would you burn malt?
A bloke at the bus stop with a crutch and four carrier bags full of tennis balls said Pils was first brewed by monks. In Tibet, I think it was. Or Germania. Somewhere in Africa. I don't get that. Don't monks swear an oath of illiteracy or something? I thought that meant they couldn't drink.
My barber told me that Porter was named after Cole Porter, the famous Latin-American songwriter. Lambada, that was one of his. He was drinking in a pub in Whitechapel and the landlord joked that, as his name was Cole, he should be drinking black beer. Cole spotted the potential and, pretending to need a wazz, went to Samuel Thrale's brewery next door and paid him to brew a black beer. An instant success, Cole trademarked the name, making so much money he never had to waste his time writing songs again.
Pils, that biker who came and sat next to me at the smelly table by the toilets said, was first brewed by Conrad Pils, another monk who'd been kicked out his monastary in Batavia after having a few too many beers.
He was born Conrad Piss, but they made him change one S into another letter when he became a monk. It was a strict order and they considered double letters the work of the devil. Pils chose an L because it reminded him of Lucifer, the devil he was trying to drive from his mind.
He kept the dregs of his last beer as a souvenir and took it with him to Bahamia, where he was having a winter break in the sun. On a tour of the local brewery he was so hot, he took out his handkerchief to wipe the sweat from his face. The hanky fell from his hand and into the vat of fermenting beer. Being an honest man, he told his hosts and offered to buy the vat of beer.
The brewer accepted the deal and a week later, 10 barrels were delivered to Pils's hotel. He wasn't a big drinker himself, so he invited the other guest to help him finish it off. They loved it and within a few hours it was all gone. "More Pils beer!" they shouted, "More Pils.!" Just as well I changed my name, Pils thought.
Pils made sure to leave dregs in the last barrel and took it back to the brewery. He told them of the reaction to his new "Pils beer", brewed with the brown grot on his hanky. The brewer wanted to throw him out as a lunatic, but, when Pils offered to pay for a test brew from his own pocket, he agreed to make it.
The brewer was amazed when he tasted the beer. "I'll make a fortune out of this. The punters will go crazy." "We'll make a fortune, don't you mean?" Pils said. "I've the dregs now. I don't need you anymore. Pils off."
Pils was desolate, but made one last plea: "Keep the money. I just ask one thing. Call it Pils beer."
And that's how Pils was invented. I think I got that just about right. I could have got a few bits wrong. I was pissed when they explained it to me.
What's the difference between Porter and pils? Turns out one is brewed from coal and the other from piss. You learn something new every day.
Next time. The difference between Stout and Parsnip.
Louis Wehle: Founder of Post-Repeal Genesee Brewery - I’m going to set down some thoughts on Louis A. Wehle’s c.1960 book, This was my Life. It was self-published and privately distributed as far as I can tell...
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