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Pilsner

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The world's first golden lager, Pilsner, also called Pilsener, or Pils, is a crisp, light, but flavorful beer that showcases the flavor of continental European noble hops, especially Saaz. Although commonly used to refer to almost any relatively pale lager, there is a distinct Pilsner style that is distinguishable from other light colored, bottom-fermenting beers such as Munich Helles and American Pale Lager.

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[edit] History of Pilsner

Modern Pilsner, and modern light-colored lager in general, was unveiled on October 5, 1842, at the new municipal brewery in the city of Plzen (called "Pilsen" in Germany) in Bohemia, now part of the modern-day Czech Republic. The brewer, Josef Groll, combined the new pale malts that were just becomeing available with German lagering techniques and local Saaz hops to create a new style of beer that became widely popular throughout Europe. The beer produced by the original Plzen brewery is now branded as Pilsner Urquell.

[edit] Types of Pilsner

The original Pilsner quickly spread throughout the world, but not without some local variations. It also provided the inspiration for many other light-colored beers. The most famous of these, Budweiser, took its name from a Bohemian Pilsner brewery and sometimes refers to itself as a "Pilsner", although its lack of hop flavor means it is probably better considered an American Pale Lager.

[edit] Bohemian Pilsner

The original Pilsner brewed in the Czech Republic, Bohemian Pilsner or Czech Pilsner features Saaz hops against a base of rich malt and soft water.

[edit] German Pilsner

German Pilsner tends to focus more on hops than the original Czech versions, in part because the German brewers lacked the very soft water of Plzen. German examples usually are more highly attenuated and more highly carbonated, resulting in a dry, refreshing character with less emphasis on malt character.

[edit] American Pilsner

Many American Pale Lagers are generically described as "Pilsner" beers. However, among home and craft brewers, these are not regarded as true Pilsners. Instead, the terms American Pilsner, Classic American Pilsner, or Pre-Prohibition American Pilsner are used to refer to the beers in the Pilsner style that were brewed by German and other immigrants in the United States before Prohibition, and to the modern craft beers that have attempted to recreate that style. American Pilsners are usually brewed with American hop varieties and American six-row barley, requiring the addition of fermentable adjuncts, most traditionally maize, to keep the body light. An even lighter version, known as Western Lager, developed after Prohibition into the standard American Pale Lager exemplified by Budweiser, Miller and Coors.

[edit] Brewing Pilsner

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[edit] Competition Styles

Both the BJCP and the GABF style guidelines recognize multiple styles of Pilsner. The GABF also recognizes a style called "International Pilsener" which is listed under the Pale Lager entry.

[edit] BJCP Style Guidelines

[edit] German Pilsner (Pils)

2A. German Pilsner (Pils) Vital Statistics
BJCP Style Guideline Definition (2004)
IBUs: 25-45 SRM: 2-5 OG: 1.044-1.050 FG: 1.008-1.013 ABV: 4.4-5.2
Aroma: Typically features a light grainy malt character (sometimes Graham cracker-like) and distinctive flowery or spicy noble hops. Clean, no fruity esters, no diacetyl. May have an initial sulfury aroma (from water and/or yeast) and a low background note of DMS (from pils malt).
Appearance: Straw to light gold, brilliant to very clear, with a creamy, long-lasting white head.
Flavor: Typically features a light grainy malt character (sometimes Graham cracker-like) and distinctive flowery or spicy noble hops. Clean, no fruity esters, no diacetyl. May have an initial sulfury aroma (from water and/or yeast) and a low background note of DMS (from pils malt).
Mouthfeel: Medium-light body, medium to high carbonation.
Overall Impression: Typically features a light grainy malt character (sometimes Graham cracker-like) and distinctive flowery or spicy noble hops. Clean, no fruity esters, no diacetyl. May have an initial sulfury aroma (from water and/or yeast) and a low background note of DMS (from pils malt).
History: A copy of Bohemian Pilsener adapted to brewing conditions in Germany.
Comments: Drier and crisper than a Bohemian Pilsener with a bitterness that tends to linger more in the aftertaste due to higher attenuation and higher-sulfate water. Lighter in body and color, and with higher carbonation than a Bohemian Pilsener. Modern examples of German pilsners tend to become paler in color, drier in finish, and more bitter as you move from South to North in Germany.
Ingredients: Pilsner malt, German hop varieties (especially noble varieties such as Hallertauer, Tettnanger and Spalt for taste and aroma), medium sulfate water, German lager yeast.
Commercial Examples: Bitburger, Warsteiner, König Pilsener, Jever Pils, Holsten Pils, Spaten Pils, Victory Prima Pils, Brooklyn Pilsner, Trumer Pils


[edit] Bohemian Pilsener

2B. Bohemian Pilsener Vital Statistics
BJCP Style Guideline Definition (2004)
IBUs: 35-45 SRM: 3.5-6 OG: 1.044-1.056 FG: 1.013-1.017 ABV: 4.2-5.4
Aroma: Rich with complex malt and a spicy, floral Saaz hop bouquet. Some diacetyl is acceptable, but need not be present. Otherwise clean, with no fruity esters.
Appearance: Very pale gold to deep burnished gold, brilliant to very clear, with a dense, long-lasting, creamy white head.
Flavor: Rich with complex malt and a spicy, floral Saaz hop bouquet. Some diacetyl is acceptable, but need not be present. Otherwise clean, with no fruity esters.
Mouthfeel: Medium-bodied (although diacetyl, if present, may make it seem medium-full), medium carbonation.
Overall Impression: Rich with complex malt and a spicy, floral Saaz hop bouquet. Some diacetyl is acceptable, but need not be present. Otherwise clean, with no fruity esters.
History: First brewed in 1842, this style was the original clear, light-colored beer.
Comments: Uses Moravian malted barley and a decoction mash for rich, malt character. Saaz hops and low sulfate, low carbonate water provide a distinctively soft, rounded hop profile. Traditional yeast sometimes can provide a background diacetyl note. Dextrins provide additional body, and diacetyl enhances the perception of a fuller palate.
Ingredients: Soft water with low mineral content, Saaz hops, Moravian malted barley, Czech lager yeast.
Commercial Examples: Pilsner Urquell, Budweiser Budvar (Czechvar in the US), Czech Rebel, Staropramen, Gambrinus Pilsner, Dock Street Bohemian Pilsner


[edit] Classic American Pilsner

2C. Classic American Pilsner Vital Statistics
BJCP Style Guideline Definition (2004)
IBUs: 25-40 SRM: 3-6 OG: 1.044-1.060 FG: 1.010-1.015 ABV: 4.4-6
Aroma: Low to medium grainy, corn-like or sweet maltiness may be evident (although rice-based beers are more neutral). Medium to moderately high hop aroma, often classic noble hops. Clean lager character, with no fruitiness or diacetyl. Some DMS is acceptable.
Appearance: Yellow to deep gold color. Substantial, long lasting white head. Bright clarity.
Flavor: Low to medium grainy, corn-like or sweet maltiness may be evident (although rice-based beers are more neutral). Medium to moderately high hop aroma, often classic noble hops. Clean lager character, with no fruitiness or diacetyl. Some DMS is acceptable.
Mouthfeel: Medium body and rich, creamy mouthfeel. Medium to high carbonation levels.
Overall Impression: Low to medium grainy, corn-like or sweet maltiness may be evident (although rice-based beers are more neutral). Medium to moderately high hop aroma, often classic noble hops. Clean lager character, with no fruitiness or diacetyl. Some DMS is acceptable.
History: A version of Pilsner brewed in the USA by immigrant German brewers who brought the process and yeast with them when they settled in America. They worked with the ingredients that were native to America to create a unique version of the original Pilsner. This style died out after Prohibition but was resurrected as a home-brewed style by advocates of the hobby.
Comments: The classic American Pilsner was brewed both pre-Prohibition and post-Prohibition with some differences. OGs of 1.050-1.060 would have been appropriate for pre-Prohibition beers while gravities dropped to 1.044-1.048 after Prohibition. Corresponding IBUs dropped from a pre-Prohibition level of 30-40 to 25-30 after Prohibition.
Ingredients: Six-row barley with 20% to 30% flaked maize to dilute the excessive protein levels. Native American hops such as Clusters, traditional continental noble hops, or modern noble crosses (Ultra, Liberty,Crystal) are also appropriate. Modern American hops such as Cascade are inappropriate. Water with a high mineral content can lead to an inappropriate coarseness in flavor and harshness in aftertaste.
Commercial Examples: Occasional brewpub and microbrewery specials

[edit] GABF Style Listings

[edit] German-Style Pilsener

21. German-Style Pilsener
GABF Style Listing (2007)
A classic German Pilsener is very light straw or golden in color and well hopped. Hop bitterness is high. Noble-type hop aroma and flavor are moderate and quite obvious. It is a well-attenuated, medium-bodied beer, but a malty residual sweetness can be perceived in aroma and flavor. Very low levels of sweet corn-like dimethylsulfide (DMS) character are below most beer drinker’s taste threshold. Other fermentation or hop related sulfur compounds, when perceived at low levels, may be characteristic of this style. Fruity esters and diacetyl should not be perceived. There should be no chill haze. Its head should be dense and rich.
Original Gravity (ºPlato): 1.044-1.050 (11-12.5 ºPlato)
Apparent Extract/Final Gravity (ºPlato): 1.006-1.012 (1.5-3 ºPlato)
Alcohol by Weight (Volume): 3.6-4.2% (4-5%)
Bitterness (IBU): 30-40
Color SRM (EBC): 3-4 (6-8 EBC)


[edit] Bohemian Style Pilsener

22. Bohemian Style Pilsener
GABF Style Listing (2007)
Bohemian pilseners are medium bodied, and they can be as dark as a light amber color. This style balances moderate bitterness and noble-type hop aroma and flavor with a malty, slightly sweet, medium body. Extremely low levels of diacetyl and low levels of sweet corn-like dimethylsulfide (DMS) character, if perceived, are characteristic of this style and both may accent malt aroma. A toasted-, biscuit-like, bready malt character along with low levels of sulfur compounds may be evident at low levels. There should be no chill haze. Its head should be dense and rich.
Original Gravity (ºPlato): 1.044-1.056 (11-14 ºPlato)
Apparent Extract/Final Gravity (ºPlato): 1.014-1.020 (3.5-5 ºPlato)
Alcohol by Weight (Volume): 3.2-4% (4-5%)
Bitterness (IBU): 30-45
Color SRM (EBC): 3-7 (6-14 EBC)


[edit] American Style Pilsener

27D. American Style Pilsener
GABF Style Listing (2007)
This classic and unique pre-Prohibition American-style Pilsener is straw to deep gold in color. Hop bitterness, flavor and aroma are medium to high, and use of noble-type hops for flavor and aroma is preferred. Up to 25 percent corn and/or rice in the grist should be used. Malt flavor and aroma are medium. This is a light-medium to medium-bodied beer. Sweet corn-like dimethylsulfide (DMS), fruity esters and citrus flavors or aromas should not be perceived. Diacetyl is not acceptable. There should be no chill haze.
Original Gravity (ºPlato): 1.045-1.060 (11.3-15 ºPlato)
Apparent Extract/Final Gravity (ºPlato): 1.012-1.018 (3-4.5 ºPlato)
Alcohol by Weight (Volume): 3.9-4.7% (4.9-5.9%)
Bitterness (IBU): 25-40
Color SRM (EBC): 3-6 (6-12 EBC)

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