The delicate pilsner walks a fine line. The refreshing beer is highly carbonated with floral aromas and a crisp, bitter finish. You'll know a pilsner when you see it, thanks to the golden body and thick, white head. But to taste its best, pilsner beer must be fresh. It only takes one sip to know if you've got a stale pilsner in your glass. The classic pilsner comes from the Czech Republic, though Germany has their own style that is slightly lighter in heft and color.
Pilsner was first brewed in the old Austrian Empire of Bohemia, a German-speaking province. It's one of the most popular types of lagers in Bavaria and is often referred to in Europe by the slang term “pils." We're not saying your American bartender knows it as “pils," but you're welcome to try ordering it that way. What better way to impress your friends?
The best pilsners are made from noble hops, which are a variety of continental European hops suitable for traditional European, low IBU beers. Noble hops lend the beer a floral or spicy herbal flavor and aroma that can be a bit coarse on the palate, but it finishes with a flash of zesty citrus and hoppy bitterness.
Many German pilsners feature malty characteristics that are somewhat graham cracker-like. You'll notice a medium to high carbonation that accentuates bitterness of the hops on the tongue.
Pilsner is the perfect choice for drinking with any meal. Its sharp hops and lively carbonation make it a good match for shellfish, Asian cuisine, Mexican dishes and even simple salads. Best of all, pilsner is unbeatable next to a rich, fatty dish so try experimenting with food combinations to see what brings out the beer's more subtle flavors.
While the pilsner isn't as widely respected in the craft beer community, it's hard not to appreciate its harmonious balance of flavors. In fact, pilsner is frequently referred to as the “brewer's beer" because it takes time to fully appreciate.
This brew should be served cold, between 40 and 45 degrees.
Serve this beverage in a pilsner glass, obviously. Pilsner is so iconic it has its own glassware, which was designed in the early 19th century right as the brew became popular. The pilsner glass is narrow and tall, usually with a foot and slightly flared sides to cradle the fluffy white head. You can also chug pilsner straight from the bottle, if you prefer. We don't judge.
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