Beer Styles 201: What is a Czech Pilsener / German Pils / American Pilsner?
Czech Pilsner, German Pils & American Pilsner: where they come from, their appearance, flavour & aroma, palate & mouthfeel, food pairings and serving suggestions are all explained in this Beer Styles 201 article.
By The Beer Community on Mar. 22, 2016
What are German Pilsners, Czech Pilsener & American Pilsners?
Pilsner is a type of pale lager that is a refreshing, palate-cleansing, thirst-quenching beer. Pilsners are the most popular beer style in the world.
Pilsner got it’s name from the Bohemian city of Pilsen, where Pilsners were first produced in 1842. Pilsners were one of the first blond beer styles and the inspiration for most of the world’s beer today.
Comparing a German Pilsner vs. a Czech Pilsner vs. an American Pilsner
Today the most well known pilsner-style beers come from the Czech Republic, Germany, and America. Pilsner beers from these countries have enough similarities to share the category, but they also have certain characteristics that set them apart.
Czech Pilsner / Bohemian Pilsener
Czech Pilsners are all malt beers, meaning they are not brewed with any adjuncts such as corn or rice, and wheat, or any other grain than malted barley. Czech Pilsners use Saaz hops and will have much more hop character than an American Pilsner or a German Pilsner.
You may see on some Czech Pilsners it is written as Bohemian Pilsner. That is because when the beer was created that was the name of the area and it continues to be a province in the Czech Republic.
German Pilsner / German Pils
To distinguish a German from a Czech Pilsner or an American Pilsner, German Pilsners are often shortened to German Pils. The German-style Pils was adapted from the traditional Czech-style to better suit Germany’s hops & water. Like a Czech Pilsner, the German Pils is an all malt beer with strong hop aroma. The hops in a German Pilsner are likely going to be German hops including German Hallertauer or Tettanger hops.
American Pilsner / American Pale Lager
“German immigrants brought traditional pilsner brewing styles to America when they emigrated in the mid-19th century. Anheuser-Busch was one of the breweries that started with German immigrants and German brewing styles.” – Vinepair
American Pilsners are often brewed with local American grains and hops. The malt and hops used in the brewing process of an American Pilsner stand out when compared to there American light lagers.
American / German / Czech Pilsner Essential Information:
The Czech Republic and Germany
Most Pilsners come out with a full white head. Pilsners can be a gold, deep gold or pale amber colour. This beer is usually crystal clear.
Flavour & Aroma:
The malts give Pilsners a grainy or fresh bread flavour. Traditional Pilsners has a pronounced bitterness from the hops which also give it a grassy herbal or earthy character.
Palate & Mouthfeel:
Pilseners are highly carbonated with a bit of weight. Their crisp hop bitterness tends to linger in the finish.
What foods pair well with Pilsners?
This crisp refreshing beer cuts right through spice, so it is great with jerk chicken or spicy blackened fish. Not into spice? It also goes nicely with baked ham and mussels.
How to serve a Pilsner:
Pilsners should be poured with some head/foam, after all, that’s how it’s done in the Czech Republic. 3 fingers worth will usually suffice.
Similar beer styles to a Pilsner:
Congrats! You’re a German Pils, Czech Pilsner & an American Pilsner expert. Look below to learn about other beer styles:
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