Created in the bohemian city of Pilsen, which is now in the Czech Republic, a pilsner beer is celebrated for its stripped down nature compared to other beers. A good pilsner contains brisk, subtle flavors and a crisp bitterness that offers a quite delightful taste for any avid beer drinker.
Pilsners are intimately crafted with a choice of raw materials, multiple enzyme rests and water profile adjustments to give an excellent unique flavor that distinguishes itself from any other beer currently available.
Since the production of pilsners began in 1842, several unique flavours have been introduced into the pilsner market. So which one should you get?
What Makes A Pilsner Good?
Before we delve into the best pilsners currently available today, it is important to understand what really makes a good pilsner.
The first feature you need to look for is that it holds a crisp flavor. A crisp flavor ultimately means it needs to be refreshing, light with also an assertive bitterness. Quality ingredients and brewing technique is responsible for creating this crisp flavor and this responsibility lies with the brand of the pilsner.
As well as a crisp flavor, pilsners often have a slightly sulfuric addition which can be great in small amounts. Poorly made pilsners are often too sulfuric so it is important to get that perfect balance.
Because of the above subtleties, pilsner beer is very difficult to brew to perfection and anything that is off flavor is very difficult to hide. Often a well renowned brewer means an excellent pilsner.
Here are nine of the best pilsner beers currently available to buy on the market today.
OUR TOP PICK
Originating from Pennsylvania, this Victory Prima Pils has a crisp drinkability and a clean finish. This pilsner is brewed with an extra dose of hops and holds tasting notes of floral, lemon and spice.
This pilsner also has an alcoholic percentage of 5.3% which offers a strong alcoholic taste to match the spice and lemon offered by the rest of the beverage.
In the late 1800’s, Bavarian based brewer Josef Groll brewed what would become a gold standard for pale lagers on a worldwide scale. Added to this was a local soft water of pilsner and pale maltz, the Pilsner Urquell was born.
A quite delightful Czezh Pilsner that contains a 4.4% alcoholic percentage is sure to create a flavorsome reaction on your taste buds.
The pilsner’s distinctive aroma of saaz hops, is amplified due to its lively carbonation. Pour effectively into a pint glass and a frothy head will sit at the top of this gorgeous golden beer that is sure to satisfy you with every sip.
Situated along the Hudson Valley in New York, Suarez is a small brewery that has made their mark in the craft beer industry by brewing some world class lagers.
The Suarez co-founder and brewer Dan Suarez, started his career at Hill Farmstead which is no surprise as both breweries share the same creative ethos and an emphasis on quality products.
The Palatine Pils is a German style pilsner that holds a strong presence of fresh malt and Noble hops. This beer pours out in a cloudy straw color that is topped with a beautiful foam that will form stiff peaks above your glass.
Situated deep in the forest of Maine, Oxbow have been making European farmhouse beers for nearly 10 years. Although their usual focus is wild, oak aged brews, this pilsner is a real standout from their usual products.
Labelled as an Italian style pilsner, Luppolo is brewed with European hops and malt. This creates a delightful, bready, crisp and refreshing flavor.
A second beer based in Pennsylvania, brewers Victory found commercial success in their Prima Pils. This German Pilsner has a decidedly floral and happy aroma and toes the line between tradition and American innovation.
At a percentage of 5.3%, the Prima Pils is one of the most easy to drink, balanced and refreshing pilsners that is brewed in the US.
The Victory brewing taproom is a must for anyone that enjoys authentic drinking experiences. This taproom takes time to slow pour each Prima Pils to create an extra dense, meringue-like head.
Firestone Walker are well renowned for their hoppy IPAs and barrel-aged beer and they do not let down here with the Pivo Pils. This pilsner is a showcase of German Saphir hop with an extra flavor of lemongrass and Earl Grey.
Pivo Pils is one of Firestone Walker’s best sellers across the U.S. and it is very clear to see why. Next time you are out shopping, search hard for this delightful, well hopped, crisp pilsner that will have you coming back for more.
The hype and reputation of Hill Farmstead can often seem exaggerated at times. However, this small Vermont brewery consistently pumps out world class beers that have such a variety in style.
Whatever their secret is, they must have it locked away because they rarely ever disappoint.
A German style pilsner, Mary holds a pronounced bitterness that is propped up by bready malts that let grassy hops effortlessly linger on the tongue. Exceptionally refreshing and a crisp taste shows just how well Hill Farmstead can brew their quite excellent beers.
The pFriem Family Brewers’ Pilsner is one of Europe’s most celebrated pilsners. It features a blend between a German and Czech pilsner in which pFriem has found a perfect balance of the two.
The pilsner holds a crisp malt flavor accompanied by floral and citrusy hops that creates a real taste sensation. It is also bursting with carbonation to create a crystal clear golden beer topped with a creamy and dense foam.
Since they began brewing in 2014, Brooklyn’s Threes Brewing Company have been brewing delicious, balanced and flavorsome takes on a variety of beer styles.
The brewery’s emphasis on quality has earned them a solid reputation within the New York craft beer scene.
Their newest creation is Vliet which is a contemporary take on a German style pilsner. Using a base of 100% German pilsner malt, Vliet is excellently hopped with Spalter Select and Saaz.
These hops create a herbal nose which is delightfully accompanied by a sweet hay flavor from the crisp grainy backbone.
Whilst you are searching for your perfect pilsner, there are three factors you should consider to ensure that you purchase the perfect pilsner. These factors are the overall taste and the alcoholic percentage.
To find the perfect pilsner, you should be looking for beers that have a crispy malt flavour and ones that are perfectly hopped. Other characteristics include a refreshing flavor and also a golden color to the drink once it has been poured.
However, this is all down to personal preference as you may want to find a pilsner that is slightly more bitter than the rest. On the whole though, the majority of pilsners hold similar flavors and tastes so you may struggle to find variety.
Do you prefer the weaker or the stronger beers? If you would prefer a slightly weaker alcoholic beverage or simply you can’t hack your drink, then you should look for pilsners around the 4% mark. You will be able to drink these casually without the risk of getting too drunk.
If you would prefer a stronger pilsner with more impacting flavors then you should ideally look for pilsners over 5% to satisfy your needs as a drinker.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Is The Difference Between A Lager And A Pilsner?
The difference between lager and pilsner is that pilsner comes under a type of lager beer. Lager itself has many different varieties, such as pilsner, but lager itself is one of two broad categories of beer with the other category being ale.
Lager in fact makes up 90% of total beer produced across the world with many different sub varieties included in it.
All these types of lager makes for a great variety of flavor and competition between breweries aiming to develop the best tasting lager.
Are Pilsners Better On Draft Compared To Bottles And Cans?
On most occasions, draft beer is better than in bottles. However, cans can sometimes be better than draft which has started a recent trend of breweries beginning to use cans for their products. Cans allow for a full seal which you do not get with bottled beers.
Bottled beers can often leak in oxygen which can ruin the beer's flavor and can also make it increasingly flatter. Cans also do not let in any light to the beer which allows it to keep its freshness compared to regular bottles.
To answer the question, draft pilsners will most likely taste better than from the bottle. However, when you next look to buy beers from a store, look if possible to purchase cans as they may provide a more flavorsome experience compared to on draft.
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