All hail the proud pilsner, king of the cold ones, even if his crown is somewhat tarnished these days. He still is a massively popular beer—Coors Light, Bud Light, Lite are quaffed by the gallons every second of every day, they represent 42.4% of all beer sold in America. And yes, he might sometimes represent all that was wrong with the American beer culture, in 1978 there were only eighty-nine breweries left in the States, a vast majority brewed some form of pilsner. Times are changing though, these days more drinkers than ever are turning their backs on this barley-pop leader, but there is hope for him yet.
You might not believe it, but one of the hardest beers to brew consistently is a pilsner. It is a finicky beer prone to off-flavors and even worse off-odors if done incorrectly. Highly temperature sensitive, it is often seen as the ultimate test of a brewers, and conversely a breweries skill, to reliably turn out a great pilsner.
First produced in the city of Pilsen, Czech Republic in 1842, it was hailed as a crisper version of heavier Bavarian styles popular at the time. As it spread across the European continent it rapidly gained popularity, quickly making it’s way across the ocean with German immigrants coming to the new world. Soon American brewing pioneers like Adolph Coors, Fredrick Pabst, and Adolphus Busch were turning out pilsners for the public. The rest is history; the beer rapidly dominated the market, and gained the ire of craft beer lovers today, whose big brother memories of the style has led to their turning their backs on this iconic brew.
Luckily brewers are reintroducing drinkers to the beauty of this style of beer. Unlike the flavorless beers the big breweries make, a true pilsner is perfect for sipping. With hints of hops and a crisp aftertaste they offer a welcome respite from the heavier offerings that micro brews are known for. It might be the perfect summer sipper. And Avery Brewing’s Joe’s Premium American Pilsner is one of the best.
This hop forward beer is touted as the session beer of the house brewers at Avery that create all of their fantastical beers. With 50 IBU’s and an ABV of 4.7% it offers a slightly bitter taste that hits you up front, with an excellent finish, while not getting you smashed. With their recent move to their new state-of-art brewery in Gunbarrel they are now turning this out on their brand new equipment, I swear it is crisper and more flavorful than ever.
So after you bang out some serious single-track or run the rapids reach for the true king of beers—not that red, white, and blue can—but a Joe’s Pilsner, and help restore a battered brand back to its rightful place, as one of the best beer styles in the world.