BJCP Style #2: Pilsner

This will be the last time I do the whole big announcement of this series.  I know you are all getting tired of reading/scanning to the “good stuff” and I am certainly getting tired of having to copy and paste these three paragraphs! I will continue to introduce the series for new readers but this is the last time I will do a full explanation.

In an effort to expand on the “education” part of my “Beer Reviews, Education and Nonsense” motto, I am starting a new series of posts that will focus on beer styles.  It is my intention to write a paragraph description about each category (there are 23 categories) and each sub-category (generally there are 2 to 4 but sometimes more for each category) that will give you an overview of each style. Each description will describe the general aromas, colors and tastes you could expect to taste if you drank a beer from that style.

Admittedly, I am writing this series for self-growth and as a study guide for the beer judge certification exam and Certified Cicerone exam I will be taking later this fall. However, I thought maybe you would be interested in learning more about the specific beer styles.  I will be starting at the beginning of the Beer Judge Certification Program (BJCP) and I will examine and describe each style (even the ones I don’t like).

If you are an overachiever OR if I am not moving fast enough for you OR if you find that my descriptions are not in-depth enough for you AND you just want to geek-out some more, then please go to  There you will find all the beer geek information you can handle!

This week I will be detailing the three subcategories of BJCP Style #2: Pilsner.  In general pilsners are all malt beers with a subtle malt sweetness and a pronounced hop flavor and/or bitterness.  Pilsners are generally pale crystal clear beers with long lasting frothy, white heads.

Style 2A: German Pilsner (Pils)

German Pilsners pour light yellow and crystal clear while the all malt recipe produces a long lasting white head. Pilsners have a medium-light body and dry finish.  They are crisp and bitter with a pronounced noble hop -herbal or spicy- aroma and flavor. The low matiness, dry finish and medium to high carbonation accentuate the perceived bitterness of these beers. The German Pilsner is lighter in body and color than the other two Pilsner subcategories.

Information courtesy

Vital Statistics:                 OG: 1.044 – 1.050

IBUs: 25 – 45                    FG: 1.008 – 1.013

SRM: 2 – 5                      ABV: 4.4 – 5.2%

Commercial Examples: Victory Prima Pils, Bitburger, Warsteiner, Trumer Pils, Old Dominion Tupper’s Hop Pocket Pils, König Pilsener, Jever Pils, Left Hand Polestar Pilsner, Holsten Pils, Spaten Pils, Brooklyn Pilsner

Bolded beers are my personal recommendations.


Style 2B: Bohemian Pilsner

Bohemian Pilsners are for people who would like a more pronounced pilsner malt taste yet crave the crisp balance of the noble hop spiciness. The hop flavor and bitterness is present only to balance the perceived maltiness that is accentuated by the medium body and carbonation. The medium to medium-full body and lower carbonation levels allow the sweet malt to coat your mouth before they are cleaned away by the lazy carbonation and spicy noble hops.  This beer should still pour crystal clear and have a long lasting white head.

Information courtesy

Vital Statistics:                 OG: 1.044 – 1.056

IBUs: 35 – 45                    FG: 1.013 – 1.017

SRM: 3.5 – 6                   ABV: 4.2 – 5.4%

Commercial Examples: Pilsner Urquell, Krušovice Imperial 12°, Budweiser Budvar (Czechvar in the US), Czech Rebel, Staropramen, Gambrinus Pilsner, Zlaty Bazant Golden Pheasant, Dock Street Bohemian Pilsner


Style 2C: Classic American Pilsner

Unfortunately, this version of pilsner has a big hole to climb out of.  It was originally brewed by German immigrants was nearly wiped out by prohibition.  After prohibition this style started to incorporate adjuncts like corn or rice to lighten the body and decrease the cost of production. This led to the “watering down” of this style.  It has, however, made a comeback with the increase of craft breweries and brewpubs so be sure to try one next time you see it on tap.

These pilsners will have a sweet, grainy maltiness or sometimes a corn-like sweetness, if corn was used.  They will have a moderately high hop aroma with no fruity esters.  American Pilsners are moderately hopped with noble-like hops that produce a smooth bitterness but not a harsh aftertaste. Generally they will pour crystal clear with a deep gold color and lasting white head.

Information courtesy

Vital Statistics:                 OG: 1.044 – 1.060

IBUs: 25 – 40                    FG: 1.010 – 1.015

SRM: 3 – 6                      ABV: 4.5 – 6%

Commercial Examples: Occasional brewpub and microbrewery specials

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