The crisp, clean lager you should have been drinking all summer. Good news, it’s good all year too.

Listen, I love Pilsners. I feel like you hear a lot of brewers say the same, but fewer mainstream craft beer drinkers share the sentiment. Why is that? Maybe it’s because when I say Pilsner, you automatically think…Bud Light, right? Well that’s totally reasonable because for a long time, this has been the pilsner reference point for many people. BUT, now we’re living in a world of amazingly flavorful beers, and it’s not just IPAs that are getting the creatives juices, well-brewed pilsners are climbing to the top and your choices are limitless (beer aisles are my proof).

So, why pilsners? Honestly, they’re extremely drinkable and they’re great for summer (which is why I have one open right now). If it’s been a long day and I need to kick back and crack a beer, or I’m day-drinking on the lake, or maybe just back-yard hanging with some friends, I want a pilsner In. My. Hand. And that first sip?…oh man, if it’s a good one, it’s kind of transcendent.

Not sure if you knew this, but good pilsners are not easy to brew. It takes hard work and a lot of awareness/expertise on the brewer’s part. Not to mention, high-quality ingredients are essential here because hops take more of a backseat allowing other elements to shine. To me this style is about balance. Pilsners should have a full flavor, but also feel extremely drinkable, like you can throw a few back. There should be a little bite from the hoppy bitterness, but that’s offset by the lightly sweet, toasty, biscuit-like flavors from the malt. These beers are going to taste clean – that means you’re not going to get too many fruity flavors, like you might with an ale.

Pilsners & Food: Pair these guys with food too! A lighter bodied beer, in taste and color, Pilsners pair well with food that won’t over power its flavor. Think sushi, fresh summer salads, light pasta dishes. Pilsners also complement mildly spicy foods, quelling some of the serious heat and heightening other flavors in the food. Don’t forget about cheese too; we’re looking at goat cheese and mild brie.

Quick side note: Pilsners are a German style originally brewed in the Czech Republic in 1842. They’re part of the lager family (vs the ale family) and there are two main types: German Pilsners (drier and more bitter) and Bohemian Pilsners (a bit sweeter, more malty, less bitter). Now you can impress your friends and drop some knowledge.

Pils to try:

  • At the store: Jack’s Abby: Sunny Ridge Pilsner (my fave) – Post Shift is also tasty, Troegs: Sunshine Pilsner, Victory Brewing: Prima Pilsner, Lagunitas: Pils, Brooklyn Brewery: Pilsner
  • On Tap: Roc Brewing: SmashPilsner (seasonal), Genny Brewing: Pilsner, Young Lion: Pilsner

Now that I’ve shared my very opinionated thoughts, what do you think? Already a pilsner convert? What’s your go to brew?

4 replies
  1. Scott
    Scott says:

    In the IPA era we are in, it is an sentiment that gets strange looks most times when we say “I’ll take a Pilsner over an IPA 100% of the time”. Well produced Pilsners, Helles Lager, Kolsch and similar non-hopped up beers are my go-to. Easy drinking, a bit lighter on the ABV, a touch of malty sweetness and as varied in choice and flavor as the IPA.

    Thanks for making the Pilsner a bit more acceptable by highlighting its value in the beer world. Especially reminding readers that the clear and crisp beer style is not as simple to do well as people may think. Naked Dove and Young Lion brewers keep us coming back.

    Cheers to clear beers.

    • Rochester Beer Gals
      Rochester Beer Gals says:

      Scott, apologies for the delayed response. Thanks so much for reading! I agree that sometimes I used to feel hesitant to order lagers in fear of being judged. But now I’m over it and just order what I want. 🙂

      Cheers to you!


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