Catagory 2 - Pilsners
This Weeks Beers
(The below descriptions are from the May 2008 version of the style guide, For the latest style information always see /stylecenter.php)
What is the most dominant beerstyle in the world? That's right Pilsner. Back in the day light/pale beers were not available. In Munich the lagers were darker. The light pilsners from Bohemia were all the rage. Brewers needed to compete and so the brewers from Munich developed a new style in response, Munich Helles.
Pilsner Urquell, the original Pilsner, became so popular that the style took it's name. This beer was first copied by the Germans (German Pilsner), German brewers migrated to the United States bringing their beer and brewing style with them and thus we have the Classic American Pilsner. Not to stop there the Standard and Premium American Lagers, followed by Lite American Lager and most recently by the style of Imperial Pilsner (not yet recognized by the BJCP).
Why was this beer developed by the Bohemian brewers? Bad Beer!!! the same thing that drives us to make better beer. In 1838 the brewers of Pilzen rolled 36 barrels of ale out into the streets and dumped them because they were undrinkable. They decided that they wouldn't let this happen again. They hired a Bavarian brewer to teach them the new "German" brewing style lagering. Rumor has it that a couple of years later a monk smuggled some German Lager yeast to Pilzen. The rest, as they say it, is history.
Please get your sample of 2A. German Pilsner (Warsteiner) and evaluate it. Remember, first pass without the style guide, and score this beer. This beer, as is all we will be tasting, is a Classic Example, and as such should (if there are no flaws) score 40+ points.
Now listen to a Master Judge as he evaluates this same beer.
Note: even though it is the same beer, it is NOT from the same bottle and may exhibit some different characteristics than yours. Also, we all have different palets, and perceive different flavors at different thresholds so your perceptions may be somewhat different than that of our judge. It is important to your learning process to evaluate and score this beer before you listen. Save some beer to evaluate along with our Master after you have performed your own evaluation.
Download the Master Judges Scoresheet and compare to your own.
Finally listen to the actual scoring of this German Pilsener.
Now, after all of the above, feel free to change your responses. It is very likely that you may be better able to describe what you have tasted at this point, and that is great.
2A. German Pilsner
Overall Impression: Crisp, clean, refreshing beer that prominently features noble German hop bitterness accentuated by sulfates in the water.
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.
Please get your sample of 2B. Bohemian Pilsener (Pilsner Urquell), and evaluate it. Remember, first pass without the style guide, and score this beer.
It is important to take the time and effort to actually score every beer. This very important step is how you refine your tasting, and yes, it can be very difficult, especially if you have only drank beer for enjoyment before. Put your own words to what you sense.
Download the Master Judges Scoresheet and compare to your own.
Finally listen to the actual scoring of this Bohemian Pilsener.
Again, after all of the above, feel free to change your responses. It is very likely that you may be better able to describe what you have tasted at this point, and that is great.
2B. Bohemian Pilsener
Overall Impression: Crisp, complex and well-rounded yet refreshing.
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.
2C. Classic American Pilsner (No Examples).
Now listen to the Home Brewer that brought back the Classic American Pilsner, Jeff Renner
Overall Impression: A substantial Pilsner that can stand up to the classic European Pilsners, but exhibiting the native American grains and hops available to German brewers who initially brewed it in the USA. Refreshing, but with the underlying malt and hops that stand out when compared to other modern American light lagers. Maize lends a distinctive grainy sweetness. Rice contributes a crisper, more neutral character.
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.
Jeff Renner is the homebrewer (and National BJCP judge) who reserected this style. Here is a link to the Brewing Techniques article he wrote on the subject of Classic American Pilsner