Pilsner is Back in Vogue – Here’s Why

Pilsner beer

Pilsner is making an unexpected comeback in the craft beer scene. It may seem strange that a style of beer that was once thought to be outdated is now back at the top of the beer menu, but there are several reasons why people are starting to take notice of pilsners again. Let’s take a look at why this classic beer style is so popular among craft brewers and drinkers alike.

Five reasons why pilsner beers are growing in popularity

1: It is easier to Drink Than Other Styles

One of the main reasons people are turning to pilsners again is because they are much easier to drink than other styles, such as IPAs or sours. Pilsners have a light, crisp flavor that goes down smooth and don’t leave you feeling bloated after just one glass. This makes them perfect for casual drinking occasions where you want to enjoy a few beers without getting too overwhelmed by intense flavors.

2: Classic Beer Style That Never Goes Out of Style

Pilsners have been around since the 19th century, and many consider them to be the original craft beer. They were initially brewed in Bohemia (now the Czech Republic) and quickly become popular throughout Europe and beyond. The classic pilsner has a unique taste that stands out from other styles, so it’s no wonder it has never completely gone out of fashion.

3: IPAs Are Getting Old

Another reason why pilsners are gaining in popularity again is because more and more people are getting tired of IPAs. Don’t get me wrong, IPAs aren’t going anywhere, but, many drinkers are starting to tire of their intense hop bitterness and citrusy flavors and instead look for something with a bit more subtlety. A good pilsner can provide exactly that – an easy-drinking option with enough flavor complexity to keep things interesting without being overwhelming.

4: Brewers Understand It Better Now

More and more brewers understand how to make great pilsners now compared to years past when they were relegated to second-tier status on draft lines behind pale ales, stouts, and IPAs. This understanding means that there are now plenty of great pilsners available on draft all over the country, meaning craft drinkers don’t have to settle for subpar options anymore when looking for something lighter than an IPA but still full of flavor and complexity like a reasonable pilsner offers.

American Pilsner, once a divisive beer, has undergone a transformation in the brewing landscape. With an increasing number of brewers mastering the art of crafting excellent pilsners, these beers are no longer relegated to second-tier status. In the past, they stood behind more prominent pale ales, stouts, and IPAs on draft lines. This is largely because the rise of commercial brewing coincided largely with the aftermath of prohibition, leaving brewers to sell low-alcohol beer on a massive, unprecedented scale. In order to brew a beer for every American consumer, large brewing companies made the sacrifice of taste, which would later spur the American brewing revolution.

This evolution in brewing expertise has led to the availability of numerous exceptional pilsners across the country. Craft beer enthusiasts are now presented with a welcome alternative—instead of settling for subpar options when seeking a lighter yet flavorful and intricate beer, they can choose from a variety of well-crafted pilsners that match their preferences.

5: Pilsners make great hybrids

Lastly, brewers are also experimenting with hybrid styles such as lagers with added hops or even hybrids between lagers and ales which can create some really interesting combinations with both traditional lager elements as well as added hop character from ale brewing methods. These hybrid beers can offer even more complexity while still maintaining the easy-drinking characteristics associated with traditional lagers like pilsner.

Pilsner beer
Today, Pilsner is a top-selling beer in many countries. Introduced in 1842, Pilsner quickly took Europe and the United States by storm. In this first part, we take a look at the very beginnings of this thirst-quenching and fascinating adventure. An investigation into one of the most popular beers of all time.

Where do Pilsner beers come from?

Today, Pilsner is a top-selling beer in many countries. Introduced in 1842, Pilsner quickly took Europe and the United States by storm. In this first part, we take a look at the very beginnings of this thirst-quenching and fascinating adventure. An investigation into one of the most popular beers of all time.

A word of clarification: the word Pils, although sometimes used as a diminutive for Pilsner, more often refers to the German version of the beer. While Pilsner and Pilsner are necessarily Lagers, not all Lagers are Pilsners or Pilsners! (There are a whole host of darker-colored lagers.) Many lagers are based on Pilsner, but the majority differ greatly from the original recipe, the tradition of which is kept alive by the venerable Pilsner Urquell brewery (when in doubt, pay them a visit!).

“Our legacy is all about the devoted employees doing things the right way over the easy way, for 174 years.” 

Pilsner Urquell Beer Master, Robert Lobovsky (quoted from the Pilsner People)

The town of Pilzen is also said to have been founded in the 13th century, but this is not entirely accurate. The first mention of Pilzen dates back to the 9th century. It was in the 13th century, however, that the town achieved Royal Town status when Bohemian King Wenceslas II (the big boss!) granted it a royal charter including rights and privileges.

New Pilzen then began to flourish, thanks in particular to an increase in commercial activity along an important trade route where Pilzen occupied a strategic position. Towards the end of the Middle Ages, Bohemia was one of the first regions of continental Europe to industrialize, attracting the combined appetites of the local powers who vied fiercely for control of its wealth.

Pilsner’s legacy: How this beer influenced the world

Firstly, Pilsner beer revolutionized the quality and stability of beers. Before its invention, beers were often unstable, prone to rapid deterioration, and variable in taste. Thanks to more sophisticated brewing methods, Pilsner has become a more consistent and reliable product, guaranteeing a satisfying tasting experience for consumers worldwide.

Secondly, the growing popularity of Pilsner beer led to the emergence of large industrial breweries across Europe and, later, worldwide. This evolution of the brewing industry stimulated the economy, created numerous jobs, and generated large-scale export opportunities, contributing to the economic development of many regions.

Thirdly, Pilsner beer has profoundly influenced beer-drinking culture. Its light, refreshing, and relatively low-alcohol taste attracted a wider audience, both nationally and internationally. Pilsner quickly became one of the world’s most popular beer styles, setting new standards in brewing and inspiring the creation of many other beer styles.

Prague, city of pislner beer
For those interested in beer history, brewing techniques and ingredients, there are some must-see pilgrimages in Europe: the Senne Valley, Oxfordshire, Franconia… And of course, Bohemia. Going back to the source of a firmly rooted brewing identity and observing its adaptation to the new “Craft” wave: this is the heart of a short but rich experience.

Why Pislner is also here to stay

It’s clear that there’s been a resurgence in interest surrounding pilsner lately – from brewers who understand how to make quality versions better than ever before all the way up through CMOs who recognize its potential as an ideal summertime sipper for today’s craft beer drinkers who appreciate its ability balance flavor complexity with easy drinkability. If you haven’t had one recently, grab yourself a pint or two soon – you won’t regret it!

What are the best craft pilsner beers in the U.S.?

The best craft pilsner beers made in the U.S. offer a diverse range of flavors and qualities that set them apart. Notable examples include Notch Session Pils, which stays true to the Czech style with its bready malts, earthy hops, and low-alcohol content; Firestone Walker Pivo Pils, which combines traditional German hop character with a West Coast twist of dry hopping, resulting in a floral, citrusy, and slightly malty flavor; and Rogue Farms Good Chit Pilsner, which stands out for its richly bready flavors achieved through a traditional malting process.

Victory Brewing Prima Pilsner impresses with its whole-cone hops that deliver bitterness and hop flavor without sacrificing the style’s crisp drinkability. Urban Chestnut Brewing Stammtisch provides a big crackery malt flavor and a pronounced bitterness, while Sierra Nevada Brewing Summerfest delivers sharp, crisp bitterness and a Bavarian-style pilsner experience. These craft pilsners showcase the diversity and innovation within the American craft beer scene, offering a refreshing and nuanced take on this classic beer style.

Learn More about pilsner beers

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