With the USA, England, and Italy all out of the World Cup, let’s check out a great Summer style from one of the remaining countries – no, not Uruguay… (do they drink beer in Uruguay? … where IS Uruguay??)…
Instead, let’s hit up Germany to celebrate their refreshing variety of Pilsener!
The German Pilsener is the slightly bolder, more bitter brother of the original Pilsener, now referred to as a Czech Pilsener (Pilsner Urquell, anyone?). There are some who refer to beers like Amstel Light, Heiney, Grolsch, and Stella to be “Pilseners”, but since they originate in either the Netherlands or Belgium, and often lack the zest of the true German and Czech Pilsener styles, they fall into the ‘Euro Pale Lager’ and ‘Light Lager’ categories (and don’t get me started about the “great Pilsner taste of triple-hops-brewed Miller Lite)… but we’re not here to split hairs or poke fun, we’re here to talk about ZEE GERMAN PILS, YAA?
This beer style is quite light – usually only 4 or 5% alcohol by volume – but full of flavor, so it’s one that you won’t mind sucking back all day under the hot sun while flippin’ some German brats, or otherwise engaging in your favorite summertime activity.
Here’s a well-penned description of the style from the Brewers’ Association:
“A classic German Pilsener is very light straw or golden in color and well hopped. Hop bitterness is high. Noble-type hop aroma and flavor are moderate and quite obvious. It is a well-attenuated, medium-light bodied beer, but a malty residual sweetness can be perceived in aroma and flavor. Very low levels of sweet corn-like dimethylsulfide (DMS) character are below most beer drinker’s taste threshold and are usually not detectable except to the trained or sensitive palate. Other fermentation or hop related sulfur compounds, when perceived at low levels, may be characteristic of this style. Fruity esters and diacetyl should not be perceived. There should be no chill haze. Its head should be dense and rich.”
With a light body, a zesty bitterness from the noble hops, and crisp carbonation, German Pilseners are a good accompaniment to help you cool peppery cheeses, but will also play nicely with your leafy salads. When you move to the entrée, a “lighter meat” like chicken will work best, although a fattier meat like bratwurst/pork or salmon would also be well-served along with this beer.
This pilsener glass was created just for such a beer.
You must drink zee German Pilz from zis style uv glass, or the Reinheitsgebot police vill convizcate your be-ar, and lock you up.
What to Buy
So last week I was “just sayin” that maybe, just maybe, American craft brewers had tipped the scales and started making better English Brown Ales than the Brits. Well, this week is no different – in fact, in a bold Independence-Day-style statement, I will definitively say that American craft brewers have overtaken the Germans with this style (one could even argue that there are better varieties in Pennsylvania alone than throughout all of Germany … oh yes, I went there). Chances are, if you live in the Mid-Atlantic region, you’ve had at least one (hundred) Prima Pils from Victory. It’s THE most reviewed German Pilsener beer by far on Beer Advocate (over twice as many as the most-often reviewed German-brewed Pils). And for good reason – it RULES. So assuming that you’ve already had it, try sampling these other three – all of which are also brewed in the great state of PA, and which should all be generally available at your better bottle shops and distributors:
– Sly Fox Pikeland Pils, 4.9% (Phoenixville and Royersford, PA)
– Tröegs Sunshine Pils, 5.3% (Harrisburg, PA)
– Stoudt’s Pils, 5.4% (Adamstown, PA)
For additional options, check out our German Pilsener page … and leave a Comment below to let us know what you think about the style!