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Pilsner Beer Styles


Pilsner beers are a variety of lager beers, the result of brewers in Bavaria experimenting around with brewing beer in icey mountain caverns. The process was slower, but it also resulted in yeast and other solids gathering in the bottom of the barrel. This bottom fermenting process turned out a light coloured drink with a cleaner, crisper taste than they had been used to. Many variations of lagers came along, including dunkels and pilsners.

Easily one of the youngest of the major beer styles, pilsner beer is a specific type of lager, made with generally lighter barley which is only partially malted. The result is a very light-tasting beer, ranging in colour from a pale yellow to a golden colour  It has a moderately hoppy fragrance and taste. The strength of this beer varies, but it usually ranges around 4.5 to 5% ABV.

Pilsner Beer got its start in 1842 in the Czech Republic city of Pilsen. After expressing their displeasure with the quality of lager that their brewery was producing, a decision was made to go back to more traditional Bavarian brew styles and bring in an expert in the field, Josef Groll. He lived up to his reputation and discovered that the unique combination of the city’s extraordinarily soft water and locally-grown Saaz hops, when incorporated into a traditional Bavarian style of lager brewing, resulted in a brew that created a stir in the beer community. This new-style beer was immediately popular and, as you might expect, this pilsner style of brewing was copied, helping it spread to pubs throughout Europe. Today, it is also, of course, one of the favourite products of a number of Australian breweries.

With the advent of modern refrigeration, the way bottom-fermenting beers were made evolved from open barrels in caves to chilled cylindrical tanks which further increased the availability of pilsners. They could be brewed and stored almost anywhere and today it is the single most popular type of beer in the world, brewed on almost every continent. The spread of pilsner is what lead to the various distinctive branches of this type of beer.

There are three basic beer styles that come under under the heading of “pilsner”:

European-style pilsner. This has a standard pilsner look to it, but generally has a slightly sweeter taste than other pilsners.

German-style pilsners. These are a bit earthier in taste, some of them almost to the point of having a bitter edge.

Czech-style pilsner. This variety is lighter than most other beers and often exhibits a foamy quality, resulting in an extremely creamy head.

It’s come a long way and has headed in a number of different directions, but pilsner is still the most popular beer style in the world, so let us hope that Australian breweries continue to keep us adequately supplied.

Some examples of great Australian Pilsners are:

Coldstream Czech Pilsner by Coldstream Brewery

Brewer’s Pilsener by Grand Ridge Brewery

Hawthorn Pilsner by Hawthorn brewing

Apr 29, 2013 |

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