There are many very average pilsners around the world, and this kind of pale lager is what many people think of as a “standard” beer.
However, it would be wrong to write off the whole style just because so many of them are uninspiring since there are also some truly exceptional examples out there waiting to be discovered.
So, for those with an open mind and ready to explore, here are the best 29 pilsner beers that will show you exactly what we mean.
The Best Pilsner Beer List
1. Reality Czeck (Moonlight Brewing Company, USA)
A cleverly named beer from Moonlight Brewing that gives a nod to the country that invented this style of beer – before irreverently doing its best to surpass everything that the land that gave us the pilsner currently produces. Is this Czech-style beer better than the beer the Czechs brew themselves? Well, we’re not going to make that call – but after you’ve sampled the delights of the floral, grassy and herbal nose, the citrus and yeasty flavors and the crisp and lively sensation in the mouth, you can decide for yourself.
2. Palatine Pils (Suarez Family Brewery, USA)
A seasonal beer from the Suarez Family Brewery, this German-style pilsner displays an attractive light golden color and produces a thick white head. There’s plenty of malt in the nose, along with notes of bread, hops and some sweetness. The flavor profile also offers bread and malt along with a touch of citrus, and it is well balanced and easy to drink, making this an exemplary beer of this style.
3. Pils (Heater Allen Brewing, USA)
Given the supremely understated name of just “Pils”, this beer seemingly prefers to do its talking in the glass. It has a delicate straw color and is topped by a light, creamy head. You’ll be drawn in by a nose full of the enticing aromas of malt, citrus and honey, which is largely followed in the taste, and the finish then delivers a delicious bitter twang. The ABV is 5%, which is standard for this type of beer, and this is the kind of brew that’s ideal when you have time to sit and relax and you don’t need to stop after the first one.
4. Draft Bear (Mikkeller ApS, Denmark)
An excellent pilsner from the sometimes overlooked but consistently excellent Danish craft brewing scene, the Draft Bear is a delectable treat. Technically, this is an “imperial”, and as such, it packs in a bit more booze than a regular pilsner. It has a golden hue that’s approaching orange and delivers a flavor profile that includes grapefruit, citrus and pine with just the right amount of hoppiness lurking in the background. It is warming in the mouth due to the elevated alcohol content, but this enhances the experience rather than detracts from it, which, along with the full body, makes this a beer to sit and appreciate slowly rather than quaff in great quantities.
5. The Standard (Notch Brewing, USA)
A Czech/Bohemian style pilsner from Notch Brewing, The Standard has a rich golden hue and an exceptionally clean, long-lasting head. The nose and taste are both led by malt and hops, with an agreeable hint of yeast in the background. There’s some sweetness in there too – perhaps a note of something like honey – with just the right amount of bitterness to round it off. The body is medium, and it’s not as carbonated as the head might lead you to expect, making it smooth and easy to drink. The name they chose for this beer may seem presumptuous, but this is certainly a beer that sets a standard for other breweries to try to match.
6. Morimoto Imperial Pilsner (Rogue Ales, USA)
A potent imperial pilsner of 8.8% ABV, this is a beer that doesn’t mess around. It is yellow in color with a slightly hazy appearance, and the head is light, fluffy and inviting. The prevalent aroma in the nose is the hops, flowed closely by some sweet malt. The taste is as you would expect from the nose but with the high alcohol content barely noticeable, and it delivers a crisp and refreshing finish that is satisfying but that still leaves you wanting another.
7. Rothaus Pils Tannen Zäpfle (Badische Staatsbrauerei Rothaus AG, Germany)
A classic German pilsner from the south-western corner of the country. It has a hoppy smell with a less pronounced maltiness hiding in the background and perhaps a touch of zest. The taste is floral and hoppy with some notes of fruit, all of which is perfectly balanced, and the light body and dry finish come together to make this a shining example of the style. This might not be the type of beer that everyone enjoys, but if you appreciate this kind of brew, this one is likely to be among your favorites.
8. Koutská 12° Dvanáctka (Pivovar Kout na Šumavě, Czech Republic)
A typical Czech pilsner of exceptional quality, this beer pours a light orange color and is topped by a moderate head. The nose is understated, but when you take your first sip, you’ll start to see what this beer is all about. It boasts a perfect blend of maltiness and floral notes with just the right amount of hops to bring balance, and you may also be able to detect some lemony or earthy undertones. There are so many average pilsners out there to endure, but when you find one that’s as meticulously brewed as this one, it reminds you why this is such an enduringly popular style.
9. Quiet Life (Fox Farm Brewery, USA)
Quiet Life is a Czech-style pilsner from the Fox Farm Brewery in Connecticut, and when your pour it out, you are immediately aware that you are dealing with something a little bit more special than your standard mass-produced lager. It has a glorious golden yellow hue that is almost orange, and the head is foamy but modest and relatively short-lived. There’s a lot to pick out of the nose, including barley and earthy hops, and the taste is clean and fresh, with plenty of citrus followed by bread and malt. A fantastic beer and a great example of how well some North American brewers have mastered this style.
10. Super Fresh (Peak Organic Brewing Company, USA)
A golden colored imperial pilsner that undergoes dry hopping to give it loads of extra character. It pours with a generous head and a moderate amount of carbonation, and the nose is full of tropical fruits as well as a touch of grassiness that’s reminiscent of the countryside. In the mouth, you can expect plenty of hops – which are highly prominent due to the dry hopping – along with some more lemony flavors. It has an ABV of 7.6%, but you would be hard pushed to guess if you didn’t already know. An easy-drinking lager that packs quite a punch – a refreshing beer but one that needs to be treated with a little respect.
11. Mexican Honey Imperial Lager (Indeed Brewing Company, USA)
This imperial pilsner from Indeed Brewing, a Minnesota-based operation, uses Mexican orange blossom honey and Amarillo hops to create a strong but eminently drinkable lager that always hits the spot. Honey is obvious in the nose, and it also carries into the taste, and you’ll also find hints of bread, malt and yeast towards the finish. This beer is a bit thicker than many people will be used to, which means it might not be for everyone. However, it’s more than worth sampling once so you can make up your mind for yourself.
12. Poetica 3 (Hill Farmstead Brewery, USA)
The Hill Farmstead Brewery in Vermont produces three versions of their Poetica brew, and we wanted to include them all here. We’ll start with the Poetica 3, a Czech-style pilsner with a moderate ABV of 4.8%, a hazy yellow color and a fluffy white head. The nose is sweet with malt, spice and citrus hops, and the flavor profile is balanced and elegant, combining everything from the nose with a background woodiness that makes it especially satisfying to drink.
13. Poetica 2 (Hill Farmstead Brewery, USA)
The Poetica 2 is a German-style pilsner that, at 4.9% ABV, is just a touch stronger than the Poetica 3. It incorporates German hops and is lagered in French oak. The whole brewing process takes the best part of half a year, and the result is a refined, refreshing and clean-tasting beer with just the right amount of hops to make it irresistible. A fine example of expert beer-making from a brewery with a reputation for excellence.
14. Poetica 1 (Hill Farmstead Brewery, USA)
When you see this beer in a glass, it could be love at first sight – it looks nothing short of stunning. The color is a glowing light gold, and this is capped by an enticing light and fluffy head that is fresh and lively. When you smell it, you’ll be assaulted by a riot of aromas, and on sipping, you won’t be disappointed either. A lot of work and expertise goes into the three beers in the Poetica line, and every one of them is worth trying – but for many people, the Poetica 1 is the pick of the three.
15. Samuel Adams Hallertau Imperial Pilsner (Samuel Adams, USA)
A strong imperial pilsner from Samuel Adams’ range is a beer to seek out and savor. The color is a rich yellow, and the head is big, fluffy and long-lasting. The dominant flavor is hops, which is also easy to discern in the nose. There’s lots of bitterness in there too, but you’ll also be able to unpick notes of lemon and spice as well as undertones of yeast. It’s smooth to drink, and the amount of carbonation is just right to hold everything together. This is a beer that will appeal most to those who favor brews with generous amounts of hops – but if you’re not such a fan of excessively hopped beers, this one might have just a little too much for your liking.
16. Imperial Spruce India Pilsner (Short’s Brewing Company, USA)
The use of the word “India” in the name of this beer is a big giveaway as to what kind of flavor profile you can expect since it’s a pilsner that puts the hops on center stage. However, the brewers have also worked hard here to give it a degree of balance, and the hops are counterbalanced by a supporting cast of caramel malt, earthy tones and a barely detectable whisper of spice. It has an ABV of 7.15%, but the alcohol is hardly noticeable in the taste, making this a relatively strong but easy drinking pilsner most people who enjoy this style will enjoy.
17. Luppolo (Oxbow Brewing Company, USA)
This high-quality German-style pilsner undergoes a dry-hopping process and is left unfiltered, giving it a cloudy appearance, a bright golden color and an overtly hoppy aroma and taste, hence the name – “luppolo” is the Italian word for hops. It has a medium body, and the strong hops flavor is joined by floral notes and a touch of citrus. The finish is crisp and dry with a spicy bitterness towards the end. It’s the kind of beer where one glass is not enough – and at only5% ABV, you won’t need to worry too much about going back for a second, a third or even a fourth.
18. Qualify Pils (Suarez Family Brewery, USA)
The Suarez Family Brewery of New York consistently produces exceptional beers, and this is another worthy addition to their list of creations. The color is a deep golden yellow, and the head is generous and long-lasting. The nose gives off plenty of malt with hints of bread, and on tasting, you’ll discover more malt along with herby and grassy tones with a distinct undercurrent of hops. It has more than a moderate amount of carbonation, keeping it lively in the mouth, and the finish is pleasingly dry and bitter. An outstanding beer that should be sampled by anyone exploring the pilsner style.
19. Pilsner Urquell Nefiltrovaný (Pilsner Urquell Brewery, Czech Republic)
This is the original pilsner – and without a doubt, it’s still one of the best there is. Pilsner was first brewed in the Czech town of Plzeň, also known as Pilsen, in the mid-19th century. The style was a big hit, and since then pilsner beer has become wildly popular around the world. If you ever have chance to visit the Czech Republic, you’ll find this beer ubiquitous throughout the country – which is excellent news since this is a brew you’ll want to go back to again and again.
20. Ayinger Bairisch Pils (Ayinger Privatbrauerei, Germany)
A light yellow, fragrant pilsner from Bavaria that is an exceptional example of the style. The nose contains elements of grass and earth, while the flavor profile displays notes of malt, cereal, bread and a touch of honey, helping to balance a slight bitterness. The body is medium, as is the carbonation, and the ABV is 5.3%, all of which helps make this a refreshing and enjoyable beer that’s ideal for a lazy afternoon in the sun.
21. Krampus (Southern Tier Brewing Company, USA)
At 9% ABV, this is among the strongest imperial pilsners you’ll find. It has a deep amber color with a large, frothy white head. The nose displays hints of pine with some malt and hints of fruit and hops. The alcohol is more apparent in the taste than in the nose, and you’ll also find a slight malty sweetness along with a little bit of spice. A fun beer to drink, but possibly not the kind of beer you’ll want to drink more than a one or two of in a sitting.
22. Pilsner (Dovetail Brewery, USA)
A Czech-style pilsner that combines Czech hops and Plzeň malt with Chicago’s water, and the result is an exceptional brew that offers grass, white bread, citrus and yeast in the nose, joined by malt, fruit and a certain bitterness in the taste. It has a light body, moderate carbonation and a gentle ABV of 4.6%, making it an easy-drinking beer that will have you reaching for the next can as soon as you finish the first!
23. Slow Pour Pils (Bierstadt Lagerhaus, USA)
A German-style pilsner from Colorado-based brewers Bierstadt Lagerhaus, this lightly golden brew of 5.1% ABV is one to look out for. It pours with a thick and creamy head that persists for a long time, and on smelling, you’ll detect notes of fruit and a touch of grain. The taste is clean and fresh with a bit of of dryness and just enough bitter notes to round it off nicely. This is not a beer that screams and shouts – rather it’s an understated beer that has been lovingly brewed and one that anyone who appreciates a good pilsner will adore.
24. Great Ketch (Grey Sail Brewing of Rhode Island, USA)
Great Ketch is an imperial pilsner with a respectable ABV of 8.5%. It has an attractive yellow hue that is not far from orange, and there is a touch of cloudiness when poured. The head is thick and inviting, and on the nose, it displays floral notes along with citrus fruit and an undeniable presence of hops. The taste largely follows the nose – but you can also throw in some tropical fruits like mango and papaya as well as a surprising amount of bitterness. Despite the relatively high level of alcohol, the booze isn’t prominent, which means this is a beer you’ll need to be careful with since it’s all too easy to have a few too many.
25. Mary (Hill Farmstead Brewery, USA)
Mary is one of the flagship brews from Vermont’s acclaimed Hill Farmstead Brewery. It’s a German-style pilsner brewed with German hops and lager yeast to create a golden beer with a thick head and a crisp and refreshing taste. There’s malt in the nose, along with a hint of spice, and a subtle maltiness carries over into the flavor where it’s joined by hops and a slight floral note that makes this a well-rounded brew that most people will enjoy.
26. My Antonia (Birra del Borgo, Italy)
An imperial pilsner from Italian brewers Birra del Borgo that’s lively in the glass when poured, forming a clean light head – although the carbonation settles down quickly. The nose predominantly features hops and citrus notes, and the taste starts slightly sweet before a hoppy bitterness takes over. It’s smooth to drink and has a dry finish, and it manages to be refreshing and easy to drink despite the ABV of 7.5%.
27. Prima Pils (Victory Brewing Company, USA)
A German-style pilsner brewed in Pennsylvania using European hops and German malt to create an exceptional example of the style. The color is very light yellow and the head is thin and short-lived, and the nose offers a balance of malt and hops. There are some definite floral notes to the taste, and it all finishes with a delicious bitter hoppiness. Available year-round and one to sample whenever you have chance.
28. Turntable Pils (Great Lakes Brewing Co., USA)
Ohio brewers Great Lakes make some tasty beers, and this is a brew that deserves its place among them. It’s a Czech-style lager with a light golden color and a slightly off-white head. Expect a malty nose with a whiff of hops along with notes of bread, grain, vanilla and lemon discernible in the taste. Easy to drink with an ABV of 5.3% – another great piece of work from this brewery.
29. Technical Ecstasy (2nd Shift Brewing, USA)
A clear and fresh beer that displays a delicate yellow color and produces a thick and creamy head that sticks around for a long time. You’ll notice hints of bread and grain in the nose and a pronounced hoppy bitterness in the taste that is gentle and agreeable rather than being overwhelming. It has a crisp taste and a vibrant mouthfeel due to the generous carbonation – along with an ABV of 5.4%, which is just about the right level to allow you to sit and finish two or three of these in a sitting.
A delicious and refreshing style to savor
A good pilsner can be a delicious and refreshing beer that’s the ideal choice for a lazy afternoon in the sun – but they’re a great option for any other occasion too.
Some people might turn their nose up at pilsners due to the innumerable bad versions that exist – but have a go at working your way through some of the brews on our list and you might find yourself changing your mind.