Pilsner is a pale lager and a famous style of beer that has been replicated the world over, although often not to great effect. A true pilsner, from the Czech Republic or Germany, has a medium to full body, is a light golden yellow in colour, has high carbonation and floral hops which give the beer a crisp yet bitter finish. It is most important for a pilsner to be refreshing yet delicate. It should also have a dense fluffy head.
One of the most important aspects of a true pilsner is the soft water used to make it. This is one of the reasons why pilsner still has such a strong link with its hometown of Pilsen; because it’s very hard to recreate the quality of the water found there.
Pilsner comes from the Bohemian city of Pilsen, which sits in today's Czech Republic. Brewing began there in 1295, however, most Bohemian beers were top-fermented and, as a result, consistent quality was hard to come by and results varied widely. In 1839, after locals showed their discontent with their current, top-fermented beer by emptying several barrels into the river, the officials of Pilsen created a city-owned brewery called the Citizen’s Brewery to brew beer in the increasingly popular Bavarian style and to calm down their disgruntled residence.
Bottom fermenting yeast was becoming popular in the brewing process for the consistency of the final product it was producing. The Citizen’s Brewery recruited a Bavarian brewer (Bavarians were considered masters in the brewing world) in order to secure the success of their brewery and in 1842 he presented his first batch of beer to the people of Pilsen. Using modern English malts, local saaz noble hops, Pilsen’s soft water and a Bavarian-style lagering (bottom fermenting yeast) the new brewer produced a beer the people of the town went crazy for immediately. Pilsner had been born.
Pilsner was only brewed in open barrels in the cellar of the brewery or other caves until the late 19th century which saw the introduction of modern refrigeration techniques. This opened up the world to this beer style that was quickly growing in popularity. However, it wasn’t until recently that the original pilsner brewery stopped using open barrels in their cellar, replacing them with modern brewing methods. Small batches of pilsner are still brewed using the original methods for taste comparison purposes.
Fancy a nice refreshing pilsner to get your afternoon or weekend off to a good start? Or just want to try this style on for size? Well we encourage you to come down to Tumut River Brewing Co! We have our very own J.W. Pilsner down here, and it is perfect for when those afternoons are just that tad bit too hot. Our J.W. Pilsner is also an award winner! It won bronze at the Sydney Royal Beer and Cider Show in the light lager category. So if you want to sip something special pop down to the brewery and say hello!