Eugene’s warm weather forecast lasts through next week (hopefully through summer), and many of my beer drinking friends have starting discussing their love for lighter beers. The Pilsner is one of those styles that often doesn’t get much attention in northwest craft beer, but can be a diverse and delicious style. They are generally lighter in alcohol; usually around 4 or 5 percent ABV, and in color; a light pale or golden yellow with high carbonation.
There are many different styles of pilsners and variations of pilsners but most are categorized as either a german-style or czech/bohemian pilsner (or pilsener). The main differences between the two are the hops are used, however, as new breweries begin experimenting with new and different things, the distinction between the two styles isn’t always apparent. Regardless, when the sun heats up, a cold refreshing pilsner always hits the spot. Lucky for us here in Eugene, not only do we have a warm front moving in, but Pilsners are lining the shelves in town and we have a few delicious options to choose from.
Ninkasi’s Sterling Pils, a german style pilsner, is part of Ninkasi’s current line-up and is sold in six-packs. The name comes from the bittering hops used (sterling) and is a slight twist on the traditional german style. Sterling hops are very similiar to Saaz hops which are traditionally used in Czech Style Pilsners. Sterling is a northwest hop that has a nice fresh but also herbal and spicy flavor. If you’re hesitant that a brewery known for it’s hops could make a light, fresh beer, don’t worry.
All of Ninkasi’s beer’s in the Prismatic Lager Series (you may remember Helles Belles) have been fantastic. It’s a deliciously drinkable beer that hopefully sticks around through June. It came out it April, so if you haven’t tried it yet, get yourself to a store or tasting room this weekend.
Hop Valley recently re-did their packaging, which made me even more excited to try their Czech Your Head Pilsner. It’s (obviously) a czech style pilsner with german hops and malts. It’s light, crisp and refreshing. I probably wouldn’t have this beer everyday, even though you probably could since it’s light and easy drink, but it’s a great one to recommend to novice beer drinkers. There’s a lot of cool stuff happening in Hop Valley’s future (the new location in the Whiteaker is coming along) so I can’t wait to see their beer production skyrocket. If you still want a light beer but pilsners aren’t your thing, the 541 Lager is now in six-packs cans, and they just released another summer beer, Pollination Summer Ale.
A new beer that’s one of my growing list of favorites comes from Base Camp Brewing in Portland, OR. Base Camp is relevantly new. They opened their doors last fall, but have exploded since then. Here in Eugene you can find their beers on tap at places like the Bier Stein or 16 Tons, and their bottles are sold in many of the grocery stores (Market of Choice, Safeway, etc). The Ripstop Rye Pils is a reinterpretation of the classic pilsner. There is european malts and spicy rye malt, with a noticeable hop character. It’s different, but in a good way that’s still very drinkable.
Hope you enjoy the sunny weather and a few of the delicious pilsners available in stores during your weekend!