Pilsner is one of those terms many people have likely heard of but I’ am guessing most people likely don’t know what exactly a pilsner is. Or at the very least aren’t 100% sure so let’s start by examining what a pilsner is and what makes it unique.
Pilsners are the general term given to certain pale lagers sometimes referred to as pils or blonde lagers these beverages are famous for their lighter colouring. Like most alcoholic beverages though there is a lot of variety to pilsners today.
The first type of pilsner we know about these days was created in the city of Pilsen in the Czech Republic, hence the name pilsner. Records show the lager was first produced in 1842 by the brewer Josef Groll. Groll was a well-known Bavarian brewer who is known as the Father of Pils in the lager community.
The Groll brewery might no longer exist today but his name lives on in history and the Wolferstetter brewery produces a pilsner bearing his name the Josef Groll Pils. The first pilsner produced by Groll was called the Pilsner Urquell and proved to be incredibly popular.
In many ways, the pilsner produced by Groll was the inspiration for many of the popular pale lagers we know today. The original pilsner was produced due to the growing dissatisfaction of top-fermented lagers available so the Pilsner brewery contacted Groll personally for his assistance.
Groll used a number of new techniques and paler malts to create his first batch of pale lager. This first pilsner was a clear golden beer with a soft flavour that definitely stood out. The lager was very popular and many other breweries quickly took note and started producing their own paler lagers.
The Modern Pilsner
Pilsner beers used to be fermented by using open barrels in the breweries cellar however that changed in 1993. Now the lager is fermented using tanks like many other types of alcoholic beverage. In many other ways though pilsner lagers haven’t really changed all that much.
The colours of Pilsner lagers are still quite pale but not usually the golden-yellow shade of the first pilsner. And they typically have a strength of around 4 – 5% on average, however, as I said earlier there is now a much wider variety of different Pilsner lagers available. Let’s look at them in more detail below.
There are five main varieties of pilsner and a few low-alcohol options as well. The most popular style is usually the European but each variety does offer its own distinct taste, texture, and aroma.
The Czech style pilsner is generally the closest to the original beverage created by Josef Groll, which isn’t really surprising given its location. Czech style pilsner usually as a gold colour with more foam and lighter overall flavour.
German style pilsner is a little more varied and it ranges from pale yellow to gold in colour. It offers a sharper bitter and earthy taste with a more full flavour and fragrance.
European style pilsner can be quite varied when it comes to colour although it is usually quite pale as you would expect. It offers a more maty taste and fragrance and is generally one of the sweeter styles of pilsner available.
American style pilsners are one of the more distinct options available it offers a more robust malty flavour and it will usually have a higher alcohol content. Typically American style pilsners will be 6 to 9% in volume and have a darker colour with a sweet yet subtly spicy flavour.
Canadian style pilsners aren’t quite as common as the other styles we’ve looked at but they have a hoppy flavour and fragrance that certainly helps them stand out.
Low, Alcohol Free & Non Alcoholic Pilsner
Low alcohol pilsners are a growing trend and they generally have only a 0.5% volume. They have a refreshing taste that is designed to closely imitate Czech style pilsners. Some low-alcohol pilsners are even called low-alcohol Czech instead. Here at LightDrinks, we have some great low, alcohol free & non alcoholic pilsners worth checking out!