Crystal clear, straw yellow pilsner — this is the visual epitome of beer for many people. There’s a good reason for that, like how most popular beers look exactly like that. However, few styles can quench a thirst like a crisp pilsner.
Unfortunately for Americans, the brewing legacy brought to the U.S. in the 1800s had gone off course from its original Bavarian heritage as companies like Anheuser-Busch and Miller Brewing spun their products around into mass-produced commodities. The good news: Pilsners are again in vogue.
Whether it’s the imports from Bavaria that help renew American interest in tasty beer or the craft producers who are building on the strong European heritage, there are some excellent pilsners at breweries better known for their trendy India Pale Ales (IPAs) although they aren’t as all that well distributed. We’re here to help with that. Here are some of the best pilsners you can get on the market:
This brand is from the home of pilsners, Plzen, Czech Republic. It’s perhaps the best and most widely available pilsner and therefore most can point to it as a perfect example. It’s so clean and delicate that the beer is perfect for when anyone “needs a beer.”
Firestone Walker generally nails every beer they make. Pivo Pils is no different. Pivo hits the right balance of malty breadiness and spicy floral hop notes. From 2013 to 2015, Pivo took home gold at the Great American Beer Festival in the German-style Pilsner category, in case there are any doubts.
Pennsylvania’s Victory Brewing was one of the first craft breweries to really double down on a pilsner as a flagship. Prima Pils is crisp and dry, but its hop character is a bit more than some other examples, but not crazy enough to deter non-hopheads.
California’s East Brother Beer Co. has some of the cleanest brandings in the craft beer world. That crispness carries over into Bo Pils, a Bohemian-style pilsner that’s perfect for any drinking occasion. It’s light, with just enough grain character to remind you it’s a beer, with a citrusy hop character from its noble hops.
Oregon’s Pfriem is one of the nation’s best brewers, especially in its ability to turn out incredible American representations of traditional-style beers. Pfriem Pilsner is no different. In its pils, Pfriem hits all the right notes: grainy, grassy, floral, and citrusy. There might not be a better beer on a hot day.
Rightfully known for Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, Sierra Nevada also brews an incredible range of other styles, from its massification of hazy IPA with Hazy Little Thing. Like with its Pale Ale, Sierra Nevada nails this “basic” style, keeping it clean and crisp with just enough floral hop character to keep you interested.
Georgia’s Creature Comfort checks into the pilsner conversation with a delightfully light pilsner that could turn every beer drinker to a craft beer drinker. While a pilsner should have a well-balanced flavor profile, there’s not too much flavor to Bibo. Which, honestly, is perfect.
Encased by a green bottle, an American beer drinker is likely to think import when looking at Trumer Pils. While Trumer is an Austrian pilsner brewer with 400 years behind it, there’s also an American sister brewery in California that opened in 2004. Using the same ingredients as the Austrian brewery, the American version is a pretty spot-on example of an Austrian Pilsner with a balanced malt profile and noble hop bitterness.
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