OHIM – stop picking on pilsner!

I suppose you’re familiar with my love for pilsner, though that does not mean that factory lager is close to my heart, as this otherwise excellent blog mistakenly stated. I grew up with it and grew big on it – you might even say very big. Pilsner is losing considerably in popularity as of late and the image of it and its brewers is not very good. Picking on pilsner is the favorite pastime of many beer lovers – and I’m so totally done with that shortsighted chatter. Time to put the house back in order.

In a recent and close to my heart blog post by Marcel Plaatsman is delicately explained that brewing pilsner is not only much harder than brewing just about any other type of beer, but also that it is more authentic than many contemporary beers and more traditional than one wants to admit. Why there are so many people kicking pilsner was long a mystery to me, but it occurred to me that it is pure emotion – an inappropriate emotion though, in my eyes.


That emotion comes from the dominant position that pilsner: 9 out of 10 beers drunk worldwide are pilsner. When you wish to distinguish yourself from others, you’ll abandon whatever that mass does and drinks. Especially with beer you can immediately claim that your palate is better than that of others. Now it is true that many pilsners have roughly the same taste and hardly any extreme flavors. But be honest: most triples taste also roughly the same, just like the white beers, stouts and India Pale Ales. Saying that pilsner has no taste is evidence of bias because it is full of flavor – you just don’t have to like it. Saying that pilsner has no flavor variety is evidence of ignorance: put a North German pilsner next to a Dutch, Czech, American and an Austrian one and it will make your eyes pop.  Emotion can blind.

That emotion also stems from the fact that the rapidly emerging pilsner breweries drove hundreds of competitors pilsner2from the market, killing off a lot of tradition. Why can’t anybody see that what those breweries made was probably utterly undrinkable? Well, that’s maybe a bit too far, but the enthusiasm with which the world plunged into pilsner does indicate that it was ready for something different than what was – big time. The entrance of pilsner beer meant a quality step forward of unprecedented magnitude – from which eventually brewers of other beer styles picked the sweet fruits too.

It is largely due to the pilsner brewers themselves that their product is in a free fall. They have turned into dispassionate marketing machines where the ‘liquid’ is no longer central and they do not understand their customers anymore. Perhaps if they were going to explain once again with how much passion and effort they always deliver a quality product, they can regain some of their lost customer loyalty. But the beer drinker of today is looking for other tastes than pilsner. Not for better taste or flavor in itself, but for a different taste.

pilsnerIn America, many “craft brewers” have long taken up the challenge of Marcel Plaatsman and brew phenomenal pilsner alongside their other goodies. Sam Adams and Brooklyn Lager have become huge brands, but also Lagunitas, Sierra Nevada, Anchor Brewing and Dogfish Head brew flavorful pilsner. The latest group StiBON Beer Sommeliers certainly must have enjoyed a Trumer Hopfenspiel in Austria, a green hop pilsner that drives many Session IPAs into the basement as if they were scared dogs. Give these beers a try, and then dare tell me again that pilsner is an inferior type of beer, tasteless fizz or commercial nonsense.


No Comments Yet.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *