Better Know Your Beer Style: Category 2- Pilsners

29 12 2009

Photo Credit: The Full Pint

Pilsners are a subset of the lager family. They are made with pils malts (the lightest roast of malt) and fresh, spicy hops. Traditionally, pilsners came from the bohemian region of Germany and modern day Czech Republic. Pilsners are the most popular type of beer in the United States, having been brought here by German and Czech immigrants in the mid-1800’s. Every macro-brewery in America is based on their flagship beer-the pilsner. Much like the light lager, pilsners take an extremely large amount of skill and talent. While the flavor and color are light, it takes a lot of work to make it consistent.

BJCP Category 02- Pilsners:

Subcategories: German Pilsner (Pils), Bohemian Pilsner, Classic American Pilsner

Aroma: Clean, spicy noble hop scents with complex grainy notes (from sweet corn for American pilsners to roasty graham cracker for German Pilsner). Slight grassiness or vegetal notes are appropriate but not necessary.

Appearance: Very pale gold to deep burnished gold. Very clear and bright with light to moderate carbonation. With rich, creamy, white to off white head that lasts.

Flavor: From crisp and and bitter for German pilsner to rich and malty for American pilsner. In every case, hops should be bright and spicy from German and Czech noble hops. The bitterness should cleanse the palette rather than linger. There should be no fruity esters.

Mouthfeel: Medium-bodied and crisp.

Ingredients: Pilsner malt, soft water, noble hops (hallertauer, tettinger, saaz, and spalt), lager yeast and corn for American Pilsners.

Technical Notes:
Original Gravity: 1.044-1.060
Final Gravity: 1.008-1.015
ABV: 4.4-6%
IBUs: 25-45
SRM (Malt Color): 2-6

Examples:
German Pilsner: Victory Prima Pils, Bitburger, Warsteiner, Trumer Pils, Old Dominion Tupper’s Hop Pocket Pils, König Pilsener, Jever Pils, Left Hand Polestar Pilsner, Holsten Pils, Spaten Pils, Brooklyn Pilsner
Bohemian Pilsner: Pilsner Urquell, Krušovice Imperial 12°, Budweiser Budvar (Czechvar in the US), Czech Rebel, Staropramen, Gambrinus Pilsner, Zlaty Bazant Golden Pheasant, Dock Street Bohemian Pilsner
Classic American Pilsner: Occasional brewpub and microbrewery specials

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