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ALL ABOUT PILSNERS

A light-bodied beer that has a golden hue and typically features a subtle bitterness, pilsners popularity in the United States continues to grow as one of the most approachable and easy-to-drink styles. Many pilsners vary in style based on the country they’re brewed in and come highly rated by beer enthusiasts. Check out some of our excellent brands to choose from, and get yours delivered today!

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History

Pilsner beer originated in the city of Pilzen, Czech Republic. The history dates back to 1842 when Bavarian brewer Josef Groll created the world’s first light-colored lager using Saaz hops, soft water, and pale malts. Originally called “pilsener” after its place of origin, Pilsen, this new style quickly became popular throughout Europe due to its lighter body and drinkability compared to the quality and taste of the top-fermenting ales being produced. Made with bottom-fermenting yeast at cooler temperatures, it gained notoriety quickly as one of the most popular beers. Today it is incredibly popular worldwide and is often referred to simply as “pils” or “pilsner” for short.

How Pilsner is Made

Since pilsners group into the lager family, brewers craft them at cooler temperatures with bottom-fermentation, where the yeast sits at the bottom of the batch. This process creates much smoother and light beers that many seek out for their refreshing qualities. First, you take a malt that fits your flavor profile. Next, boil the malt for 90 minutes to remove any unwanted compounds. This creates the wort, which brewers then add hops to in order to add specific flavors.The definite trait between many pilsners lies in the hops, which provide different flavors based on the regions in which they grow. The hops then get boiled into the wort in small batches before getting placed in an ice bath or refrigerator to lower temperatures. After the wort cools, they agitate the mixture vigorously before adding yeast to it. This mixture ferments for three weeks before it gets moved to another container to get back to room temperature. Once it reaches this stage, the container gets left to refrigerate for another 4 to 6 weeks before bottling.

Types of

  • Czech Pilsner - Czech Pilsners flavor profiles come across with tastes reminiscent of sweet breads. They tend to be less bitter than German Pilsners and have a more pronounced hop flavor with floral and herbal notes. The malt character also tends to be more complex with notes of honey, toast, and caramel. Czech Pilsners sometimes get referred to as Bohemian Pilsners or Bohemian style lagers, an older name for a large portion of the Czech Republic.
  • American Craft Pilsner - American craft brewers took the traditional pilsner style and gave it their own twist over the years. American craft pilsners tend to carry softer flavors than their European cousins with more hop bitterness and aroma from American hops like Cascade or Centennial hops. Malt flavor can range from sweet bready notes all the way up to intense caramel flavors depending on which grain bill is used by the brewer.
  • Bohemian Style Pilsner - Another name for Czech Pilsners, Bohemian style pilsners typically appear light golden in color with a slightly sweet maltiness. Their assertive hop flavor comes from using Saaz hops, which are native to the Czech Republic. The hop bitterness tends to be higher than other styles of pilsner, but still gets balanced by the sweetness of the malt.
  • German Style Pilsner - German style pilsners usually appear straw to pale golden in color and present a more herbal hop character than Bohemian style pilsners. They often taste more bitter than other styles as a balance between light lagers and dark, hoppy ales, but still maintain a nice balance between malt sweetness and hop bitterness. German brewers often use Hallertauer hops for these beers, which lend them their distinctive herbal notes.
  • Imperial/Double Pilsner - Imperial or double pilsners, using higher amounts of alcohol and hops, get brewed with the intention of being stronger versions of traditional pilsners. These beers tend to present more in both flavor and aroma, with intense hoppiness balanced by sweet malt flavors often backed by a higher alcohol by volume (ABV). Imperial/double pilsners range from deep gold to dark brown in color depending on the amount of specialty malts used during brewing.

WHAT DO PILSNERS TASTE LIKE?

Pilsners present as light-bodied pale lagers, usually brewed with lightly kilned malts and traditional Noble hops from Germany or Czech Republic. This combination can result in very floral aromas, typically featuring notes of spicy citrus and herbal flavors that vary depending on the hop variety used. They typically give off a moderate bitterness balanced by malts and sweet flavors that won’t overwhelm drinkers, although some, like the Imperial and German varieties, can be more intense than others.

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How to Drink a Pilsner

To fully appreciate the taste of your pilsner, serve it at just the right temperature. Generally speaking, most beers should be served between 40-50°F (4-10°C). For pilsners specifically, the ideal temperature range is 45-50°F (7-10°C). If served too cold, you miss out on some of the flavor notes present in this beer style, whereas if served too warm, you end up with an unpleasant flavor profile due to oxidation from heat exposure. Serve it a little bit colder than called for to account for them warming up in your hands. Finally, when enjoying your pilsner, make sure to use glassware that allows for ample head retention and enables you to experience all of its aromas and flavors. Stemmed glasses such as tulips or flutes make great options for this purpose. When pouring your beer into the glass, hold it at an angle so that more surface area gets exposed. This tilt increases carbonation release and encourages a strong head formation without over carbonating your beverage - which leads to foaming over when poured into smaller glasses or mugs!

Popular Pilsner Brands

Whatever your preference, there's likely a perfect match for your palate when it comes to pilsners. Take a look at some of the most popular below!
  • Stella Artois - Stella Artois is a Belgian pilsner style beer that is popular around the world. It is known for its crisp, clean taste and iconic chalice glassware.
  • Samuel Adams Golden Pilsner - In the early 1980s, Jim Koch brewed his first Boston Lager in his kitchen. Fast forward over 40 years, and the company’s still going strong! Samuel Adams Golden Pilsner makes modern spins on German pilsner recipes to bring you a beer carrying a unique citrusy/floral taste, a light body, and a sweet bread aroma. The light taste won’t overwhelm your senses, making it an excellent pairing for most dishes.
  • Pabst Blue Ribbon - Since 1844, this classic pilsner remains one of the most widely consumed beers in North America today. Pabst Blue Ribbon’s light bodied and crisp flavor comes across both sugary and fruity before getting balanced with subtle bready sweetness. As an inexpensive and easy to drink beer, Pabst makes an excellent choice for those looking for a little more bang for their buck.
  • Pilsner Urquell - Widely considered to be the original pilsner, Pilsner Urquell originated in Pilzen, Czech Republic. In 1842 Josef Groll crafted it as a response to local citizens' dissatisfaction with their beer options at the time. The beer's distinctive golden color and light body became an instant hit, and it quickly spread throughout Europe and beyond. Today, Pilsner Urquell still gets brewed using traditional methods, including open fermentation tanks, which give it its unique flavor profile described as lightly minty and herbal.
  • Staropramen Premium - Brewed since 1869 in Prague, Czech Republic, Staropramen Premium presents a rich, creamy head, medium body, and carries a slightly sweet taste with a malty background that finishes hoppy. Delicious on its own and non intrusive when paired with your favorite dishes, Staropramen livens up gatherings and has been doing so for over 100 years! It also comes in several varieties, such as its 12° (light) and 16° (dark) versions which offer drinkers more options when selecting their favorite beer.
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