Beer. One of the most refreshing beverages worldwide. This ultimate relaxing drink has only four simple ingredients: barley, yeast, hops, and water. Although there are many different types of beer to be consumed, there is one that is often overlooked, and shouldn’t be—enter the humble pilsner.

The Origin of the Pilsner

Pilsners are known as a very “classic” lager—they really only use these four ingredients. While porters, stouts, or even IPAs may have additional ingredients, a pilsner forces brewers to stick to the basics. Pilsner comes from a small town called Pilsen in a neighbourhood of the Czech Republic. Pilsen created the idea of cold fermentation, an aging process called lagering, which produced beers with a longer shelf life.

All in the Water

What really makes pilsners stand apart from other beers is the tangy bite that comes at the end of the first sip. Pale in colour, this lager still packs a mildly hoppy punch. But pilsners are well-known for the water involved—at the time of its creation, Pilsen had very soft water in low mineral content. At this time, brewers had to pretty much work with whatever water they had. This soft water leads to a crisp beer that was refreshing and hoppy. Although technology has improved, there are still just a few styles of pilsner:

  • Czech pilsner: A robust but easy drinking beer hasn’t changed much since the first creation in this region. Like most pilsners, Czech pilsners use Saaz hops, a slightly spicy hop that is toned down by the water. These pilsners are a deep golden colour with a foamy head.
  • German pilsner: These are more often called pils if you’re in a German town. The water content in Germany is a bit harder, resulting in a pilsner that’s a bit lighter in colour, with a crisp hoppiness that’s balanced well with its malty counterpart.
  • European pilsner: These come mostly from Belgium and the Netherlands and have a slightly sweeter taste than German or Czech pilsner.
  • American pilsner: Pilsners in America had the addition of corn and sadly used to be quite strong, but many were wiped out by the Prohibition. Most of the beers that exist today in this category are much milder than they were in the past. Craft breweries in America have, recently, begun to take on the challenge of perfection that lies in a pilsner.

Whether you’re an IPA drinker or a stout aficionado, consider the humble pilsner on your next outing. This crisp and refreshing beer will leave you simply wanting more.