Pilsner, also called Pilsener or simply Pils is a pale lager with an interesting history. The Pilsner beer gets its name from the Czech city in which it was created in 1842, Pilsen. A quick note about the city of Pilsen is that brewing began in 1295, but up until the Pilsner was created almost all Bohemian beers were made using top fermentation, producing ales.
Bavarian brewer, Josef Groll was recruited by the Pilsen Brewery to start the Pilsner creation. Groll’s first pale lager was released in early October of 1842, and was concocted using local ingredients and pale malts. Josef Groll's Pilsner recipe combined Pilsen's remarkably soft water, local Saaz noble hops, brighter Pilsner malt, and Bavarian-style or bottom fermenting lagering techniques, which resulted in a clear golden beer. Saaz hops was ultimately the ingredient that fixed the Bohemians spoiled beer troubles and what defines a Pilsner today. The recipe was deemed extraordinary and quickly gained popularity.
By 1853, the Czech Pilsner beer was in 35 Prague pubs, and traveled to Vienna in 1856, and Paris in 1862. Pilsner became listed as a style name at Pilsen’s Chamber of Commerce and Trade in 1859. The worlds first blonde lager was originally called Pilsner Urquell, is still served today, and was trademarked in 1898 to put emphasis on being the original brewery.
Since then, the Pilsner has taken on several variations and styles, including the creations of: the German Pilsner, European Pilsner, Belgian Pilsner, American Pilsner, Canadian Pilsner, Italian Pilsner, and more. Modern Pilsner's have a very light color, varying levels of hop aroma and flavor, a medium body, and typically range from 4.5-5% ABV.
This beer style has its own Pilsner glassware, although they are used for many types of light beers. A Pilsner glass is typically smaller than a pint glass, tall and slender, and tapered. The tapered shape helps reveal color and carbonation of the beer and the broad top helps maintain the beers head.
Some questions still linger about Pilsners though, especially the difference between a Pilsner and Lager, and Pilsner and Ale. For Pilsners and Lagers, they are both bottom fermented, which technically classifies Pilsner as a Lager, but with the addition of hops making it spicier than your typical lager. This hop presence is what makes Pilsners taste different than most Lagers. As for Ales, the fact that they are top fermenting rather than bottom fermenting like a Pilsner is, is what differentiates them.
You can enjoy the wide variety of Pilsners and other craft beers we carry by joining our Beer of the Month Club!
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