Without a doubt Pilsner is the most misunderstood, most imitated, most blasphemed style in the world of Beer. What does that mean? Simply that Pilsner is the most “borrowed” designation in the world of Beer and most often done so by Beers that couldn’t carry Pilsner’s baggage.
The style emerged from the Czech city of Pilsen in the 1840s. Pilsner was molded upon new Bavarian techniques of lagering (which literally means “to store” but in practical terms it means to use bottom-fermenting yeasts and then to store the Beer for weeks at cool temperatures). Along with the Bavarian method, pale malted barley was used exclusively with distinctive hops from nearby Saaz (which also provides its name to the hop variety) and the local, soft water. This combination conspired to create a clear, golden colored Beer with clean crisp flavors and a pronounced, but well-measured, hop note. It’s hard for modern consumers to imagine but until the second half of the 19th century all beer was dark, cloudy, and served from barrels.
Today, despite the endless parade of pretenders, Pilsner enjoys a worldwide audience of enthusiastic and increasingly educated Beer drinkers that demand the original Pilsner made in the town of its namesake.