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Thursday, May 17, 2012

Pennsylvania Pilsner Face-off!

We have looked at the Czech, we've looked at the German, now let's look at the American pilsner...what? Actually allow me to rephrase that. Since it is American Craft Beer Week, let's look at the pilsners being brewed by American craft breweries.

Ignore the tools and the Windex and just
focus  on the  beautiful golden color
Our first candidate is Stoudt’s Pils brewed by Stoudt’s Brewing Company. This is one of their standard year round beers. It checks of the pilsner basics easily, a crystal clear light golden straw color, nice fluffy white head with the lacing clinging tightly to the side of the glass. The nose on this beer is very flowery.

This is brewed in the German style of pilsners which means it has a very earthy taste to it. There is a lot of carbonation on the tongue and you end up with a dry mouth but also a mild and long lingering bitter aftertaste. There is a nice hoppiness to this beer as suggested by the nose that makes for a refreshing beverage. It charts at a very drinkable 4.7% ABV. This is a fine pilsner that strides well between elegance and complexity. I like it and recommend it. 

Our other candidate tonight is another German style pilsner, Prima Pils by Victory Brewing Company. This too is a year round standard. As usual we have the prerequisite pilsner qualities: The clear golden color, the white fluffy head, and the floral nose though unlike the Stoudt’s, the Prima Pils has less of a nose than I would have expected.

What happened to the head?
It disappeared so quickly.
There is a sharp crisp bite on the front of the drink that leads into a long earthy but light bodied taste. The hops are restrained in the beginning but gives way to a lingering bitterness that is more overt than other pilsners tasted during the course of the month. The overall finish is bitter and very dry. It is a nice 5.3% ABV. The Victory Prima Pils is a solid beer and worth trying but not as subtle or deft as the Stoudt’s Pils.

One other thing worth mentioning about these brews; both are out of Pennsylvania which may have a bit to do with why they taste good. Both of these tasted better than the European pilsners I have tried this month, and truth be told most of the American craft pilsners have been “better.” There is a big reason for this. Pilsners are tastier the fresher they are. These hit the shelves faster than their European counterparts; they didn’t have to travel across the ocean to get here, and had less chance of being subjected to any temperature extremes that could potentially skunk out the beer. That said both of these pilsners are good representations of American craft brew skill.

Here are the “party lines” for these brews:

Pils is reflective of a traditional German-style Pilsener. It is delicately dry with firm bitterness. A brilliant straw color with medium body, and noble hop aroma. A terrific thirst quencher, crisp from the Saaz hops with a dry malt finish.

Heaps of hops give this pale lager a bracing, herbal bite over layers of soft and smooth malt flavor. This refreshing combination of tastes makes Prima a classy quencher in the tradition of the great pilsners of Europe. 

Want another opinion?
The Beer Observer takes a look at Stoudt's Pils
Fermentedly Challenged has a write-up of the Victory Prima Pils


  1. Thanks for your reviews on some of PA's wonderful pilsners -- definitely a strength of our local brewers. Would love to hear your thoughts on 2 other local pilsner favorites -- Troegs Sunshine Pils and Sly Fox Pikeland Pils.

    1. Thanks for stopping in! I've had my fair share of Troegs, they brew good stuff, but for some reason I usually only get them in the fall or winter though. I'll keep my eyes open for Sunshine Pils. I haven't had the joy of any Sly Fox yet. I'm going to have to rectify that too.