What Pilsner Beer Is: 3 Popular Brands + 5 Best Beers
Pilsner is one of the most popular pale ales produced by bottom-fermenting yeast. With its crisp finish and pale golden color, the beer has made its way to many drinking enthusiasts worldwide. Here you’ll find the best Pilsner beers as well as exciting facts.
In this post, we will learn more about its interesting history, flavor profile, ingredients, and the best brands available. Let us explore the world of this premium-quality beer and find out why Pilsner continues to be the most loved beer for all types of drinkers.
What Pilsner Beer Is
Pilsner is a game-changing original pale Lager that is quite popular in the beer world. It is full of sparkle and is characterized by a pale yellow or golden color.
The beer features a floral or spicy hop aroma and a medium body with a notable carbonation level. It provides a refreshing and effervescent beer experience and is known for its moderate hop bitterness.
The beer is popular worldwide, and several variations are available in different countries. The original Pilsner beer is associated with the Czech-style Pilsner, but now there are several types of Pilsners:
- Czech Pilsners (Pilseners): Taste like sweet bread
- American Pilsners: Sweet, malty, and bread-like
- German Pilsners (Pils): A bit bitter
- Belgian Pilsners: Very smooth and light
Origin, History, and Founders of Pilsner
The kingdom of Bohemia was quite famous for beer-making in the 19th century. However, during the 1830s, people started to prefer the cheaper imported bottom-fermented beers.
Because of the decreased demand for the local top-fermented beers, they stayed on the shelf for too long and eventually got spoiled. So, the burghers of Pilsen built a new brewery named 'Pilsner Urquell Brewery' and employed Josef Groll, a brewing expert from Bavaria.
Josef Groll was determined to introduce a beer that had a longer shelf life. He had already experimented with many bottom-fermented beers, so he had good experience in brewing.
On the 5th of October 1842, Josef brewed the first Pilsner beer and introduced it to the people on the 11th of November, a month later. The beer received a lot of appreciation from the public, and its popularity grew quickly.
The brewery expanded because of the increasing demand and started exporting beer to several countries. The Pilsner Urquell Brewery is still a prominent brewery in the Czech Republic (previously known as Bohemia).
The Brewery also offers tours where they entertain beer fans and those keen to know more about its history.
What Type Of Beer Pilsner Is
Pilsner is brewed using bottom-fermenting yeast and goes through a process known as lagering. Lagering is an aging process that produces longer and clearer beers.
During this process, the beer is stored at cool temperatures for an extended period, producing a clean and crisp flavor. The following are the main features of the Pilsner beer:
- Color: Pale, golden
- ABV: 4.4 to 6 percent
- Flavor: A nice balance of medium to high noble hop bitterness with a malty, bread-like sweetness;
- herbal and floral notes with a crisp finish.
- Aroma: bread or dough-like
- Bitterness (IBUs): 25 to 50
- Mouthfeel: Thin and carbonated
The beer is one of the most complex, produced using complicated and lengthy fermenting and brewing methods. So, Pilsner is a type of Lager that is light-colored, smoother, and has a more malty flavor.
Ingredients of Pilsner
Pilsner beer’s main feature distinguishing it from other beers is its simplicity. It contains only a few combined ingredients for a simple, clean, and crisp beer. The following are the main ingredients of Pilsner:
- Soft water
- Spicy hops
- Lightly kilned malted barley
Besides these main ingredients, the beer contains optional ingredients depending on the brand. For instance, some brewers enhance their flavors by adding corn or rice to the grain. The body of Pilsner is mainly straw-colored, and the head is dense and white.
Taste of Pilsner
Pilsner has a light flavor, and it’s perfect for summer. It has a yeasty taste and is low in hops, with a clean and refreshing finish.
Pilsners have floral and herbal notes from the hops and mild bitterness with hints of citrus. The beer’s aroma also has a hint of graininess. The taste is wheaty, but it also depends on the brand of Pilsner and the wheat styles used. Pilsner is characterized by the following primary flavors:
- Hop bitterness
- Herbal and floral notes
- Clean and crisp finish
- Light to medium body
The beer is bitter, but the overall taste is lighter. Also, German Pilsners are more bitter than other Pilsners. It is a bright, light drink for anyone looking for a refreshing and light drinking experience.
Alcohol in Pilsners
Pilsners have an alcohol level ranging from 4 to 6%. The alcohol content in Pilsners varies by brand and type, but it is usually in the moderate range.
Because of their moderate alcohol level, Pilsners are considered Light-Style beers. The variations in the alcohol level in Pilsners also depend on the region and the brewery.
For instance, German Pilsners have a slightly higher alcohol content and are more bitter. The alcohol content is written on the label, so it’s better to check whether it’s in your desired range.
Glasses for Pilsner Beers
Pilsners are best served in a tall glass with a narrow base and wide rim at around 38 to 45 degrees Fahrenheit.
The tall design of the glass helps keep the Pilsner at the right temperature and allows us to notice the beer’s clarity and golden color. The following are the two main types of glasses for Pilsner beers:
- Pilsner glass: A pilsner glass is tall, tempered, and narrow with a wider rim. The main idea behind this design is that the beer’s aroma and carbonation concentrate at the bottom, and the head is dense and frothy.
- Stange glass: A stange glass that looks like a tube and is more slender than Pilsner glass. It is narrow from top to bottom and is mainly used for German Pilsners.
These two glasses offer an enjoyable and aromatic drinking experience for Pilsner lovers. The best way to serve a Pilsner is to focus on the center of the glass and pour it so that two-thirds of it is foam and one-third is beer.
Pilsner Versus Lager Beer
Lager is a German word that means 'to store.' It is associated with complex fermentation and long storage periods. At cold temperatures, bottom-fermenting yeast strains produce lager beers.
Lagers differ in terms of how dark or light they are. For instance, Pilsner is a type of Light-Colored and smooth Lager; it is never dark and has a more malty flavor than other beers.
So, all pilsners are lagers, but all Lagers are not pilsners. Pilsners are bright yellow, while other Lagers are dark brown. Besides this, the main difference between a pilsner and a Lager is the type of yeast and hops. Pilsners have a spicier and more hop flavor than other Lagers.
Benefits of Pilsners
Pilsners are one of the most popular beers in the world. Though the flavors might differ according to the region and the brand, all Pilsners offer the same benefits.
The following are the main benefits of Pilsners, for example the clean and crisp finish as well as the refreshing taste.
Clean and Crisp Finish
Pilsners are known for their clean and crisp finish. They leave a dry and soothing sensation on the palate. Because of the crisp finish, there is no residual sweetness in the mouth and no aftertaste.
Light and Refreshing
Pilsner has a higher level of carbonation, which leaves a prickling and refreshing sensation on the tongue. Because of the high carbonation and effervescence, the beer offers a very light and refreshing experience.
Because of its light and refreshing nature, the beer is enjoyed extensively in the summer.
Since the beer has a moderate and refreshing flavor profile, it can be paired with various foods. It complements a wide variety of salads, appetizers, and cheeses. They are also widely available and produced in many countries.
Lower Alcohol Content
Pilsner beers have a lower alcohol content, which makes them easier to consume in one sitting. These beers are not very strong, which makes them more sessionable. You can enjoy multiple beers simultaneously because of the low alcohol content per session.
Pilsners have a moderate and well-balanced flavor with malt sweetness and moderate hop bitterness. For this reason, drinkers who prefer not too bitter or heavy beers choose pilsners.
Best Pilsner Beers
A Pilsner is your answer if you’re craving a beer that’s not packed with lots of hops and is moderately bitter! The beer uses Saaz hops, which alter its flavor and prevent it from being spoiled.
Several types of Pilsner beers are available, but not all are as good as the best-quality ones.
To help you choose the best Pilsner, we’ve jotted down a list of the top names:
The Pilsner Urquell has a bright golden yellow color and a white and creamy foam. It features a thick, dense foam that adds sweetness, smoothness, and natural crispness.
The beer has hints of honey and sweet malt and features floral and fruity aromas.
- ABV: 4.4 percent
- From: Czech Republic
- Tasting Notes: Malt, Hops, and Caramel
Live Oak Pilz
Live Oak Pilz is a Czech-style golden Lager with premium Saaz hops that provide a clean and crisp finish. The beer is a decoction mashed with a single heirloom variety of Moravian malt. It has a spicy hop bitterness and a complex malt flavor.
- ABV: 4.7 percent
- From: Austin, Texas
- Tasting Notes: Floral, spicy bread
Jever Pilsener is a German Pilsner with a unique taste and a bright, sparkling gold color. It features high carbonation and offers an instant thirst-quenching experience because of its dry finish.
- ABV: 4.9 percent
- From: Germany
- Tasting Notes: Bread, Lemons, and Hops
Prima Pils is brewed with German hops and has a crisp flavor with vivid spice and floral notes. The beer offers an easy and smooth drinking experience for beer lovers. It is simple and flavorful and features bitterness along with malty sweetness.
- ABV: 5.3 percent
- From: Pennsylvania
- Tasting Notes: Floral, spicy, citrus, and lemon
Lazy River Pils
Lazy River Pils is brewed in a traditional German Pilsner style and then dry-hopped with Citra hops. The beer has a crisp, refreshing finish and a citrus aroma.
- ABV: 4.4 percent
- From: Pennsylvania
- Tasting Notes: Bread, grain, citrus, lemon
Most Popular Pilsner Beer Brands and Breweries
The quality and taste of a pilsner depend on how professionally it is brewed and how accurately it is pulled off.
Brewing pilsners is complicated and lengthy; even a slight fault can create subpar pilsners.
A few Pilsner beer brands and breweries are quite popular because of their premium-quality beers. The following are the best Pilsner breweries in the world.
Pilsner Urquell Brewery
Pilsner Urquell Brewery is based in Plzen (Czech Republic). The brewery is known for its flagship beer, Pilsner Urquell. The brewery played an important role in the origination of the pilsner beer.
The brewery continues to follow traditional brewing methods such as fermentation in large oak barrels and decoction mashing.
Hop bitterness and malt sweetness are characteristics of the pilsner beers that this brewery offers. Their beer has a golden color and a clean, crisp finish. The brand uses 100 percent Czech ingredients and features parallel brewing in large barrels to produce the finest-quality pilsners.
Firestone Walker Brewing Company
Firestone Walker Brewing Company is a California-based company founded in 1996. The company offers a variety of beers, including Pilsner. It was named the 'best beer in America' by Men’s Journal.
The company has been introducing premium-quality beers consistently and has gained popularity because of its innovative beers.
The company is known for its unique and advanced brewing methods and techniques. It uses high-quality ingredients and locally sourced hops and malts. They also have a solid reputation for their barrel-aging program.
Bitburger Brewery is one of the most renowned breweries in the world. The company is based in Germany and is headquartered in Bitburg.
The company was founded in 1817, and to date, it has maintained high quality standards. The brewers have more than 200 years of expertise in brewing, and their beers are of the finest quality.
The hops in these beers give this beer a bitter taste and a unique scent. Besides dried and fresh hops, their beer contains hop pellets and hop extracts. The company offers a range of other beers and beverages that are popular among drinking enthusiasts.
Perfect Food Pairing with Pilsner Beers
Pilsner can be paired with several foods because of its versatile flavor profile.
Sometimes it is important to consider the type of Pilsner too. For instance, German Pilsner pairs well with Asian and Mexican cuisines.
On the other hand, Czech pilsners go well with milder cuisine, including Thai, Chinese, and Japanese. If you want to have something with Pilsner, consider these options:
Pilsner pairs very well with all cheeses, especially lighter-milk ones. Since the beer is moderately bitter and crisp, paired with the high acidity and oil in the cheese, it creates a perfect blend.
All types of spicy and roasted chicken dishes can bring out the flavors of pilsners. When you take a bite of spicy chicken and sip Pilsner, the Pilsner allows its hops to cleanse the palate and provide a crisp finish.
Salty pretzels and beer go exceptionally well with each other. Whether having a party or traveling, this pairing provides a unique and unforgettable experience. The bitter notes from the beer complement the flavor profile of salty pretzels.
Burgers and Seafood
Pilsners pair very well with burgers, making them juicier and tastier. The beer enhances the salty and spicy flavors of the meat. Plus, nothing is more satisfying than having a refreshing and soothing sip of beer after eating a hot, juicy burger.
You might have heard of fish and chips, but beer lovers are more fond of fish and beer. Besides fish, pilsners can be enjoyed with shrimp, crab, oysters, clams, and lobster. The high carbonation levels of Pilsner complement the delicate and mild flavors of the seafood.
Pilsner beers are characterized by their bright and beautiful color, malty and bready body, bubbly carbonation, and crisp and clean finish.
When it comes to brewing the best Pilsner, experience is the key. That’s why we’ve jotted down the best and most reliable pilsner beers and breweries. Several brands offer pilsners, but not all of them are reliable.
Beer fans love Pilsner because it has a refreshing, smooth taste and a crisp finish. If you’re looking for a satisfying and clean drinking experience, grab a pilsner and savor the golden elixir of a pilsner, where every sip delivers a symphony of crispness.