Fundamentals #122 — St Mars of the Desert Làska Pils

According to Sheffield brewery St Mars of the Desert, Làska means love in Czech. It’s also the name of its latest lager, and trust me when I say this lager is definitely for lovers.

I have shared my own love for this exceptional beer producer many times, often in my Instagram posts, and at length in a profile of the brewery I penned for my magazine Pellicle back at the start of 2021. There’s something undeniably wonderful about this brewery who’s name has been shortened by fans and locals to simply “Smod”. And it’s true that every time you drink one of its beers there’s just something undeniably Smoddy about it. Although intangible, it’s always there; the kind of x-factor that many breweries will spend decades searching for in the course of their own beer making, but only a handful will successfully capture.

Things have changed at Smod since I wrote that article. Most significantly is that founders Dann Paquette and Martha Simpson-Holley are no longer running the entire operation on their lonesome. They’ve been joined by eager brewing apprentice Scarlet and Grimbold the dog. In fact, if – or should I say, when – you head to their welcoming taproom in Sheffield’s Attercliffe district, you may even be lucky enough to meet the wee pooch, who often makes an appearance on the brewery’s can art, for yourself.

I feel these additions to the team are significant, because as brilliant as Smod beers are when enjoyed in isolation, they taste 10, maybe 20, times better when enjoyed in the company of good friends. Perhaps Smod welcoming new team members to its (admittedly, small) fold is a reflection of this. After all, sharing a beer with pals is a true fundamental of the beverage if ever there was one.

And what better beer to share with friends than this outstanding hoppy pils, which channels elite levels of sweetness and bitterness, and delivers what I consider to be a very accurate representation of a Czech pilsner? There’s crystalline sweetness up front in the form of caramel and butterscotch (but not butter, and that’s an important distinction to make) which is followed up by a resolute and razor-sharp herbal bitterness that screams “drink me”.

There’s something else too, that intangible Smoddy note you can’t quite put your finger on. An ideal topic to discuss with friends while you sink a few cans…

Matthew Curtis is a writer, photographer and editor of Pellicle Magazine. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram @totalcurtis and @pelliclemag. Sign up to our All Killer No Filler subscription box and you'll find incredible beers like this one every month, plus more great writing from Matthew and our food writer Claire Bullen.