As a whole, Pilsners are crisp, lower alcohol, immaculately clean Lagers, but they present many brewers with a holy grail challenge because they have nothing to hide behind; all flaws (and successes) are displayed as nude as can be.
So let us dive deep into some tall, cool glasses of Pilsner and discover what makes this such a pleasing beer style.
CZECH or BOHEMIAN PILSNER – It’s The Water
GERMAN PILSNER – Drier & Hoppier
AMERICAN PILSNER – Corn & Rice
Why brew a Pilsner?
Wise: For Old Bro we try to go as traditional with this Pilsner as possible, even using noble Saaz hops. We really wanted to reach into the Old World recipe and make something that is less of an Americanized version of the beer. When we originally made this beer we sorta had to do the math and figure out how this was going to work with San Diego water, which has high alkalinity, lots of minerals, and it’s a little unpredictable. You end up having to shape your recipe as you brew it. There was a lot of trial and error; we had to adjust the number of hops as well as our malt bill. It was a total labor of love. What we’ve ended up with is something we’re amazingly pleased with, because we think it’s pretty close to an Old World Pilsner.
McNair: In general, Pilsner is a great style. It’s light and easy drinking, but it still has some complexity that is more interesting than a commodity light lager. You’re gonna get a nice, bready malt backbone, and some zesty hops that are expressive with floral and spicy qualities. Our Bohemian Pilsner, Bird Park, is hopped with Czech Saaz hops. We built the malt bill around having a bit more body than you might find in a German Pilsner. Our other Pils is Speedster, an Imperial Pilsner. That one is more of a German Pils, and it really showcases Hallertauer Mittefrue hops. It is almost built like an IIPA but it’s a lager.
Wiederkehr: Pilsner is the guilty pleasure power ballad of every professional brewer worth his salt. It touches most folks in the formative early memory center of the brain. It is the primal beer experience. Moreover, the craft Pilsner is the beer version of every selfless father’s dream, “I want you to be like me, only better.” And that is exactly what a craft Pilsner is, it is every youthful memory of lager yeast, only more flavorful.
Wiederkehr: We are hardcore, unabashed R.O. (Reverse Osmosis) abusers. It isn’t possible to brew our Normcore without R.O. In fact, Normcore is my homebrew Dortmunder (hard-water) recipe on R.O.
McNair: Yeah, we use really soft water on both of these beers. We build it to have a softer mouthfeel and less aggressive, so you aren’t getting assaulted with bitterness.