54 of the Best Pilsners, Blind-Tasted and Ranked
How We Taste & Test Beers
Composed entirely of Beer Judge Certification Program (BJCP) judges who have all studied, trained, and been tested on their ability to discern characteristics in beer, our panel is independent and doesn’t include any CB&B editors or staff. The panel tastes all beer blindly—they do not know what brands and beers they are tasting until the tasting is complete.
Our goal is to inform you about the strengths and weaknesses of these beers as well as their relative differences (not everyone has the same taste in beer, so accurate descriptors are more valuable than straight numerical values). The quotes you see in the reviews are compiled from the review panel’s score sheets to give you a well-rounded picture of the beer.
As our reviewers judge, they score based on the standard BJCP components: Aroma (max 12 points), Appearance (max 3 points), Flavor (max 20 points), Mouthfeel (max 5 points), and Overall Impression (max 10 points). We’ve listed these individual component scores, and the bottom-line number is derived from adding then doubling these component scores to produce a rating on a 100-point scale. Note that we round the component scores to the nearest whole number, so the math won’t necessarily add up.
Our judges use the following scale in valuing scores:
95–100 » Extraordinary World-class beers of superlative character and flawless execution
90–94 » Exceptional Distinguished beers with special character, style, and flavor
85–89 » Very good Well-crafted beers with noteworthy flavor and style
80–84 » Good Solid, quality, enjoyable beers
75–79 » Above Average Drinkable and satisfactory beers with minor flaws or style deviations
50–74 » Not recommended
We’d like for you to keep one thing in mind as you read our reviews: Your perception of a beer is more important than that of our review panel or editorial staff. Reading reviews—on the Web, in a magazine, or in a book—is no substitute for trying the beer yourself.
Plzeňský Prazdroj Pilsner Urquell (82)
“Pilsner Urquell was first brewed in the city of Pilsen, Czech Republic, in 1842. Its brilliant clarity, golden color and light body made it an instant success in a world that was accustomed only to dark, heavy, cloudy beers. Even the name Pilsner Urquell, which literally means ‘original source of Pilsner beer,’ acclaims its role in defining a category of beer.”
Left Hand Brewing Company Polestar Pilsner (82)
“Once you have tasted a true Pilsner, you will forever walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward, for there you have seen the light, and there you will always long to return. Let Polestar guide you out of the wilderness, just as the North Star has guided explorers to their destinations and back home again. Light, crisp and elegant, pilsner is the true test of brewing prowess. Less is more.”
Full Sail Pilsner (82)
Earthy, woody hops flavor followed by a strong bitter finish. Slightly warming alcohol. I’m still getting the peach ester and intense floral flavors, like tulip or geranium. Bitterness balanced with a biscuit malt backbone. Both flavors blend together well.
Tröegs Brewing Company Sunshine Pils (84)
Very sweet up front, but fades to super bitter and is champagne-like on the finish. The same bubblegum and cotton candy tones linger throughout, but are lost in the bitterness at times. Malt almost balances the spicy bitterness of the hops and is slightly sweet.
Big Choice Pinhead Pilsner (84)
Pleasant, unique hops flavor, with a mix of fresh grape, honeysuckle, and light spices. Some bitterness allows the other flavors to shine, but the hops are muted. A hint of toasty biscuit malt on the back end, but lingers with a residual sweetness that seems out of character.
Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. Nooner Pilsner (85)
The front hits with some bready biscuit malt sweetness, as well as some cracker. Light, fruity citrus notes, with some pear, watermelon, and spice character. The hops are floral and spicy, which balances the malt sweetness. The bitterness is a bit bigger than the malt and hops flavors, but the beer is smooth, with a creamy mouthful.
Prost Brewing Company Pils (85)
Bitter and skunky notes up front that continue to grow well after the taste is over. The hops bitterness holds some pine and earthiness, as well as some floral tones, that carry through. Biscuit sweetness emerges toward the back, but is hidden by the strong hops.
10 Barrel Pub Beer (85)
Moderate bitterness up front, with skins of green apples, and a sweetness that creates an almost lemon-drop flavor. Floral hops are present, with some slight spice and pear character, and finishes clean with a touch of light bread sweetness and hops spiciness. Light and crisp with high carbonation, but a creamy mouthfeel.
Deschutes Brewery Pine Mountain Pilsner (86)
Moderate malt sweetness with a sweeter corn character. Almost wheat-like. Clean lemony fruit and mild bitterness. Crisp finish with lingering bitterness softened by slight DMS.
Boulevard Brewing Company KC Pils (86)
Moderate malt sweetness. Sweet corn-like character. Virtually no hops profile and very little bitterness. Finish is sweet. Could use a bit more pils character.
Saint Arnold Brewing Company 5 O’Clock Pils (86)
“The Pils malt is light yet with a pleasant bready character. Saaz hops gives a pleasant earthy spiciness. The final, unfiltered beer has a light maltiness, a big refreshing bitter and wonderful, delicate hops flavor and aroma.”
König Brewery Pilsener (86)
“The finest, carefully selected ingredients and the knowledge of generations of the best master brewers provide the basis for the success of the unique taste of König Pilsener.”
Great Divide Brewing Company Nomad (87)
Full hops flavor without being resinous. Sweet malt plays a supporting role. Toasty malt notes are a little different for the style. Lively carbonation complements pungent hops, leading right into the closing bitterness.
EPIC Brewing Company Hop Syndrome (87)
Hops bitterness is the first impression. Very approachable, but bitterness lingers for a long time in the aftertaste. Soft malt softens the substantial bitterness. Aftertaste favors smoky phenols. Some lemon notes.
Radeberger Pilsner (87)
The malt takes charge, but the skunkiness hits up front. Some lime, spruce needles, and light floral round out the hops character and carry through the finish with some spicy bitterness. Pilsner back end, with a sulfury dry finish.
North Coast Brewing Co. Scrimshaw Pilsner-Style Beer (87)
The biscuit sweetness, a little honey, cracker, and malt make this complex but not too sweet. The floral hops character is nice, with just a bit of bitterness. Yeasty, with a bit of Laffy Taffy ester, and some mild smoky and spicy phenol. Slight lemony sourness combines with a bit of melon, for a semidry finish.
Bitburger Premium Pilsner (87)
Skunkiness up front, followed by malty biscuit, honey, and cracker. Floral hops bring on some spice and bitterness, along with some lime. Good body and high carbonation create a nice bite at the end.
Oskar Blues Brewery Mama’s Little Yella Pils (88)
ice hop flavors, fresh and juicy. Some mild oxidation in the not-quite-fresh malt. Light, heathery hop flavor. Low bitterness but the finish is nonetheless crisp and clean
Goose Island Beer Co. Four Star Pils (88)
Well-balanced malt and hops character, with the sweet toasted cracker malt sweetness complementing the herbal and flowery tones of the hops. Clean finish and great balance.
Urban Chestnut Brewing Company Stammtisch (89)
Delicate sulfur tones, with just enough biscuit malt to soften the edges of the spice and pine hops bitterness. The bitterness lingers without overdoing it, but sits on the tongue a bit too long.
Breakside Brewery Liquid Sunshine Pilsner (89)
“We import bagged German Pilsner malt and add 3,300 pounds to each batch because we believe that’s what it takes to make a great German Pilsner. We source all Hallertau Hersbrucker hops, for their mix of floral and ‘Noble’ notes.”
Sixpoint Brewery The Crisp (90)
Aggressive citrus and berry hop flavors. Malt balance is clean and relatively neutral but slightly biscuity. High alpha hop character. Bitterness is crisp and lingering, assertive but not harsh.
Lagunitas Brewing Company Pils (90)
Sweet but balanced malt is a bit too toasty for the style. Little to no hop bitterness. A hint of ethanol. Clean, crisp finish, well-carbonated and dry. Some faint butter notes in the finish. Almost some caramel character.
Utah Brewers Cooperative Wasatch Last One In (90)
Some slight floral notes. Light-bodied, sweet bready malt with some biscuit. The clean freshness of the pepper and lemon is well supported by the malt and invites the palate to take a second and third taste.”
Santa Fe Brewing Company Freestyle Pilsner (90)
The malt hits up front, with some pear-like juiciness. The citrus flavor has a bit of delicate lemon. Noble hops character is there to balance and has a touch of floral and apple—would’ve been nice to have a touch more bitterness to reign in the sweetness. A touch of diacetyl and a light lingering astringency in the aftertaste.
Genesee Brewing Company Pilsner (90)
The bready, biscuit maltiness up front is more prominent than in some Pilsners and combines well with the lemony hops bitterness. Fruity, floral, earthy notes, and a moderate alcohol warmth to add a slightly spicy taste. Well-balanced and inviting.
Deep Ellum Rye Pils (90)
The prominent malt body has some nice biscuit sweetness. A little pepper character adds complexity, but it’s not too bitter. Detectable yeast esters of ripe pear and apple balance the bitterness of the hops. Finishes clean, smooth, and crisp with great carbonation.”
Odell Brewing Company Double Pilsner (90)
Smooth pils malt with an alcoholic aftertaste. Hop bitterness is medium and balancing. Some sweetness in the middle of the palate keeps the finish from being crisp. Hop flavor is about right for traditional Pils, but it seems light for a double. Finish is sweet and could be drier with a touch more bitterness.
August Schell Brewing Company Pilsner (91)
Upfront hop bitterness, balanced malt and hops in the middle, and a pleasant, bitter finish. Nice pils character. A touch of corn with floral hops reminiscent of gooseberry or white wine. Well balanced.
Summit Brewing Company Bohemian-Style Pilsener (91)
The cracker-like malt is sweet, with notes of salt, biscuit, and Pilsner malt. Floral hops are present but aren’t too bitter, and further notes of spice, melon, and lime linger through the aftertaste. Clean and refreshing, what it lacks in complexity it gains in simple refreshment.
Heater Allen Pils (91)
A bold flavor up front for a Pilsner, with sweet cracker and biscuit, but is quickly followed by some floral spice notes that carry the bitterness through the finish. Noticeable sulfur notes give way to the pine and spice of the hops, as well as some pepper. The malt characters are only in the foundation, providing the body, but don’t truly emerge until the bitterness fades into the aftertaste.
Victory Brewing Company Prima Pils (92)
oderate bready malt sweetness followed by intense, resinous hop profile. Bitterness is high for the style but finishes clean and dry. Moderate malt sweetness with nice pils malt flavor. Needs more malt to balance. Crisp, with a carbonic bite and lingering astringency
Firestone Walker Brewing Company Pivo Pils (92)
iney, grassy noble hops balanced by clean, grainy pils malt. Some fresh watermelon notes. Finishes crisp, clean, and surprisingly bitter. Some alcohol warmth at the end
Upland Brewing Company Champagne Velvet (92)
A relatively clean biscuit and honey Pilsner malt, balanced by the herbal spiciness of the hops. Touches of red apple and orange add some complexity, but overall, a very restrained and understated flavor. Nothing is elbowing for control. Incredibly dry and clean fermentation.
Terrapin Beer Company Sound Czech Pils (92)
Light and delicate, with some sweet light cracker-like notes that carry through. Herbal and floral hops add some unusual woody dankness and bitterness, as well as a lemon-like citrus complexity, without being overpowering. Perfectly fermented, with a fresh, clean, dry finish.
Hopworks Urban Brewery HUB Lager (92)
The first sip brings out the bready malt, with a touch of hops flavor that yields to the bitterness. Light nuttiness that might be a bit out of place, as well as some fresh fruitiness. Subsequent sips see the hops flavors build in complexity—spicy, with a big of evergreen pine. Some lingering bitterness in the aftertaste, clean fermentation.
Figueroa Mountain Paradise Rd Pilsner (92)
The skunky hops flavor is in your face, coupled with a touch of sweet malt. A low-level pleasant bitterness, but the flavors are mild. Fruitiness of fresh apples/pears with a low level of clean maltiness. All the flavors are fairly intense on their own, but together there is some balance.
New Belgium Brewing Blue Paddle (93)
ight, clean malt. Noble hops provide slight floral and spice character. Mildly hopped but in style. Finishes crisp, clean, and dry with a touch of astringency in the aftertaste
Saint Arnold Brewing Company Summer Pils (93)
Light-bodied but balanced well and slightly creamy. The hops are not overly bitter but provide some nice spice to break up the malt biscuit sweetness. Very clean and dry finish.
Grimm Brothers Brewhouse 3 Golden Hairs (93)
There is a lot of spice in this beer—cinnamon-like, earthy, woody, and floral—from the hops. The prominent bitterness envelops the malt sweetness with the yeast esters and balances nicely. Medium body, finishes dry, light, and refreshing.
Trumer Brauerei Berkeley Trumer Pils (94)
Malty, biscuit sweetness is smooth, light-bodied, solid, and slightly sweet. The lemony, floral, spicy hops accent the clean malt bill nicely, and the high carbonation makes everything pop just a little. Finishes with just enough bitterness to make you want another sip—or gulp.
Utah Brewers Cooperative Squatters Squasatch Hoppy Pils (94)
Smooth, light, soft Pilsner malt throughout, with a medium-sweet malt cracker background. The hops profile adds some floral notes, with a medium bitterness that carries through the finish, and some citrus character in the back. The beer finishes dry on the tongue.
pFriem Family Brewers Pilsner (96)
A nice delicate biscuit sweetness that gives way to a floral, herbal, and citrus hops flavor. The hops hit in the middle and provide some complexity and bitterness. Nice carbonation that ends with a clean, dry finish.
The Post Brewing Company Howdy Beer (97)
Initially, a sugary malt character, with medium-low orange notes. Nice Pilsner malt character, with some delicate biscuit, almost like toasted cracker. Prominent hops bitterness throughout, with some lingering astringency. Good carbonation and finishes clean and refreshing.
Jack’s Abby Craft Lagers Sunny Ridge Pilsner (97)
Sweet Pilsner malt, almost candy-like, with some somewhat tart citrus notes. Slightly earthy spice notes of the hops are well placed, above a Czech Pilsner level, but not overdone. Balances nicely, and the carbonation and mouthfeel are spot on.
Neshaminy Creek Brewing Company Trauger Pils (98)
The malt body is light for the hops bitterness in this Pilsner and hits with a slight bready malt sweetness and citrus before the hops kick in to balance. Good carbonation, super smooth, with a nice carbonic bite. Slightly bitter finish, but clean.
Rogue Farms Good Chit (98)
“Taste the terroir of Rogue Farms barley that we grew, harvested, and floor malted in small batches.”