Rome Plows – Modern Methods and Classic Styles Collide


Melanie Wiesen


New Beer Release Post

Balanced in composition and defiant in spirit, our Italian Pilsner returns.

Rome Plows made a massive first impression this past winter when it bulldozed its way into Wye. A bit of mystery still shrouds the Italian Pilsner– a style considered by some as “holistic” and a “meditation of beers.”

“A Kind of Pils”

There are several types of pilsners, and many of them are attached to regions. The two most popular are Czech and German pilsners. The Czech pilsner originated out of Pilsen in the Czech Republic and is arguably the most influential beer style of all time. Clear gold in color with spicy hops and mild malt/bread flavors, it became the global blueprint for pilsners.

A German-style pilsner is drier with a light yellow color and veers more towards floral, herbal, hay flavors. Significantly less hoppy than a Czech-style pilsner, it leans into the German fondness for malt.

With its unique flavor and balance, the Italian-style pilsner exists in the interface of the Czech and German versions of the style.

A mere infant in the vast history of beer, the Italian pilsner was first brewed by Birrifico Italiano in Limido, Comasco, Italy in 1996. They created the world-famous Tipopils (Italian for “a kind of pils), and claimed it as the first dry-hopped pilsner ever.

Dry Spell

A paramount of this particular pilsner is the process of dry hopping– adding hops late in the brewing process. This creates a more aromatic hop presence. So, although the creation of an Italian pilsner involves a near IPA-level of hopping, the result is very subtly bitter. Delicately herbal and hoppy. It remains characteristically light and refreshing, as well.

To create Rome Plows, the brewers used Carolina Gold from Carolina Malt House– a flavorful pale base-malt that is rich in character (and one of our house favorites). They tactfully used Hallertauer Mittelfrüh, a classic and delicious German Noble hop. To dry hop, they called upon the very European-style American hop, Contessa (fittingly meaning ‘countess’ in Italian).

Flavor profiles of European hops lend the spicy/herby qualities that are coveted in an Italian pilsner. New-age American hops tend to be more fruit-forward, and the resulting flavor would be too overpowering in this style. Also, Contessa has a much much lower percentage of Alpha Acid (the main bittering component in hops) than the majority of American hops.  

Rome Plows represents the very best of what makes an Italian pilsner such a fascinating, balanced take on the most classic of styles. It’s delightfully light, with just a bit of bitterness. It is approachable, but complex. 

“Pick a side, pick a spot”

Nearly all of our beers are named for songs, albums or lyrics that are important to the brewers. Greg Winget, Director of Brewing Operations, said that musical motivation for naming Rome Plows was particularly important, and corresponds directly to the art on the beer’s label.

Rome Plows was derived from “Here Come the Rome Plows,” by early 90s post-hardcore band, Drive Like Jehu.

“There’s a really strong Anti-Imperialist message that we thought was really fun to juxtapose to Roman Empire imagery. So, that’s why the can has a bulldozer running over Roman statuary,” Greg said. “Rome plows were bulldozers that they used in Vietnam to blow down the jungle, so that Viet Cong couldn’t hide from them. They were 24-ton, tractor-sized bulldozers with a massive steel blade on the front that they would crash into the jungle in Vietnam and decimate the entire forest, just to scare out a few Vietnamese resistance fighters.”

To-go cans of Rome Plows will return to Wye Hill this Friday, and it will also be available on draft.