Pilsners, a type of lager, get their name from the city of Plzeň (translated to Pilsen in English) in the Czech Republic. Here, Pilsner Urquell brewed the first pale lager back in 1842.
The style, known for its refreshing, crisp, easy-drinking nature, can be broken up into several distinct types. You’re likely well acquainted with the American pilsner and its crisp, bready, sweet, malt-centric flavor profile. The Czech pilsner is the original. Also known as a Bohemian pilsner, it’s has crackery malts and spicy hops. The German pilsner is malty, sweet, but more bitter and hoppier than some of the other versions. Then there’s the Belgian pilsner, known for a floral, smooth, crisp flavor profile.
Regardless of which style you choose, you can be sure you’re cracking open a thirst-quenching, crisp, refreshing beer. These are traits all pilsners have in common.
Also, while certain beers seem to be designated for one (or two) season (stouts in the winter, saisons in the summer, and bocks in the spring, among others), pilsners are perfect any time of year. James Taylor could have been singing about pilsners when he sang “Winter, spring, summer or fall” in his song ‘You’ve Got a Friend.’ Whether in the middle of winter, on a rainy spring day, a humid and hot summer day, or a brisk fall evening, the pilsner is always there. It’s like the Swiss Army knife of beers. It fits all scenarios, all year long.
That’s why it’s important to give this beer its due. On top of that, it’s a good idea to give props to the breweries who are doing it right. Below, you’ll find ten of the best, crisp, refreshing pilsners to drink any time of year. The best part? Each one is available almost anywhere that beer is sold.
Firestone Walker Pivo Pils
One of the most highly-rated pilsners in America, Firestone Walker Pivo Pilsner is brewed with Spalter Select, Tradition, and Saphir hops in the kettle boil and then dry-hopped with even more Saphir hops. The result is a dry, crisp pilsner filled with citrus peels, light spice, and a lot of floral aromas and flavors. It’s the kind of beer you don’t just purchase once. It’s the kind of beer that occupies a spot in your refrigerator in perpetuity.
von Trapp Bohemian Pilsner
If you’ve ever seen The Sound of Music or simply heard of it, you’re familiar with the von Trapp family. When it comes to beer, there’s another von Trapp that should be on your radar: von Trapp Brewing. All of von Trapp’s European-inspired beers are noteworthy, but one of the best is its Bohemian Pilsner. It’s known for its dry crushable palate of citrus, floral hops, and light, peppery spice.
Sixpoint The Crisp Pilz
With a name like “The Crisp,” you should have a pretty good idea of what you’re in store for when you crack open one of these bad boys. A true mix of old world and new, this beer was not only based on the crisp pilsners of Germany, but it’s also brewed with Tettnang and Hallertau hops that were grown in Germany. It has a malt backbone of Cargill pilsner malt. The result is a balanced, snappy pilsner with bold, fresh floral aromas that lead into a palate of crisp, refreshing floral, citrus, and lightly spicy notes.
Half Acre Pony
If you’ve never tried Half Acre Pony, what are you waiting for? This crisp, refreshing pilsner is brewed with German noble hops as well as German malts. It’s as classic as American pilsners come. The result is an aromatic beer filled with floral aromas and bready malts. Drinking it reveals notes of freshly-baked bread, bright flowers, and crisp, dry finish. It’s the kind of beer you’ll go back to again and again.
Victory Prima Pilsner
If you were to poll avid pilsner drinkers about the best pilsners in the US, you’d get a lot of people touting Victory Prima Pilsner. This 5.3 percent German-style pilsner is brewed with pilsner malts as well as a symphony of German hops that includes Tettnang, Hallertau, Spalt, and Saaz. This creates a floral, lightly spices, citrus-driven pilsner. It’s crushable, crisp, refreshing, and goes down easy on a hot, sunny afternoon any time of year.
Oskar Blues Mama’s Little Yella Pils
Another classic Bohemian-style pilsner, this year-round, 4.7 percent pilsner is brewed with Saaz and Aramis hops. It’s well-known for its balanced, highly flavorful palate of herbal, citrus, floral hops and bready, sweet, honey-like malts. It’s crisp, light, and effortlessly refreshing. But it’s not just a crusher. There are a lot of flavors to be found when you sip this beer on a hot, hazy day.
Ommegang Idyll Days Pilsner
If you ever get a chance to visit Brewery Ommegang, you might forget that you’re in Central New York and not the Belgian countryside. Not only is it beautiful and idyllic, but the beers live up to that image as well. One of the best is Idyll Days Pilsner. This unfiltered Belgian-style lager is brewed with floor-malted barley sourced from the Czech Republic, flaked corn, Czech Saaz hops, and Belgian lager yeast. It’s cellared for thirty days to create a hazy, floral beer loaded with flavors of sweet grains, honey, and citrus peels.
Pilsner Urquell is a true OG in the lager world. The first ever pale lager, Pilsner Urquell, is just as balanced and flavorful today as it was back in 1842. It gets its crisp, refreshing, floral, memorable flavor from the use of “soft Plzen water,” malted barley, Saaz hops, and lager yeast that was first smuggled out of Germany more than 150 years ago. It’s the first and still one of (if not the) best in the world. A beer to add to your list immediately if somehow you’ve never tried it.
If you only seek out one craft beer on this list, make it Threes Vliet. Known for its flavors of freshly cut grass, hay, honey, and floral, herbal, earthy hops, this 5.1 percent ABV pilsner is brewed with German pilsner malts, Saaz, and Spalter Select hops. Crack one of these open, pour it into an imperial pint glass, kick off your shoes, and sip on this frosty, crisp beer as you forget all about work, responsibilities, and life. Just sip and relax.
Tröegs Sunshine Pilsner
Tröegs is a big name in the craft beer world. It’s the kind of brewery that you can count on for annual limited releases, seasonal offerings, and year-round favorites. Each and every one is worth your time. When it comes to crushable, warm-weather offerings, look no further than Tröegs Sunshine Pilsner. Brewed with Pilsner malts, lager yeast, and Hersbrucker and Saaz hops, it’s known for its grassy, bready, floral nose. Sipping it brings forth notes of freshly baked bread and floral, earthy, herbal, lightly piney hops.Learn More