Craft Beer Experts Reveal Their Favorite Bohemian-Style Pilsners

Since we’re on the cusp of fall, you’re going to see a ton of stories on fall beers. Specifically, a lot of articles on Oktoberfest-style beers, stouts, dark lagers, and the divisive, oft-hated pumpkin ale. But just because another season is headed our way, one in which drinkers are supposed to head towards heavier brews, doesn’t mean you need to drop drinking crisp, refreshing pilsners.

Actually, we think the pilsner style, especially Bohemian (and Bohemian-style) pilsners are perfect for any time of year. Fal Allen, brewmaster at Anderson Valley Brewing Company in Boonville, California shares our sentiment. But when he’s looking for a Bohemian-style pilsner, he heads for Mexico.

“There are some great versions out there but sometimes it can be a gamble to try some American craft brewer’s interpretations of a Bohemian pilsner — they can be overly malty or lack balance, or worse yet they can have the defect of Diacetyl.” He adds, “On the safe side one of my favorites is Bohemia from Mexico. True it may be a bit light for the style according to the World Beer Cup guidelines, but it is still a great beer. It is super-easy drinking, with a fresh refreshing snap of hops that balances the light malt character. It goes great with any food, but especially with spicy Thai or Mexican food. It’s a well-made pilsner.”

The best thing about Bohemian-style pilsners is the fact that even though they had their genesis in the Czech Republic, they are brewed all over the world. Not simply in their birth country or Mexico (as Allen pointed out earlier). To find them, we turned to professionals for help. We asked some well-known brewers and craft experts to tell us the best Bohemian-style pilsners to drink all year long.

Red Stripe

Red Stripe
Red Stripe

Pedro Goicouria, community and partnerships manager at Veza Sur Brewing Co. in Miami

ABV: 4.7%

Average Price: $7.99 for a six-pack

Why This Beer?

Red Stripe for sure. It’s crisp, slightly bitter, and highly carbed. All these make for a very easy-to-drink beer. The best things? It’s fairly cheap, refreshing, and available pretty much anywhere. What’s not to love?

Pilsner Urquell

Pilsner Urquell
Pilsner Urquell

Joe Pawelek, brewmaster at Wicked Weed Brewing in Asheville, North Carolina

ABV: 4.4%

Average Price: $9.99 for a six-pack

Why This Beer?

Pilsner Urquell is my pick. It is one of the oldest in existence and is truly a crafted high-volume beer. We currently don’t have all of the necessary equipment to produce this style. The light grassy and herbal aromas balance out the light biscuit and toasty notes from the malt. Truly one of the best Bohemian pilsners out there.

Czechvar Budvar

Czechvar Budvar
Czechvar Budvar

Tim Moore, production manager at Blackberry Farm Brewery in Maryville, Tennessee

ABV: 5%

Average Price: $9.99 for a six-pack

Why This Beer?

Fresh Budweiser from Czechvar. The original Budweiser, known as Budvar in the US. I have a friend from Austria that always brings me fresh 500ml cans whenever he comes back from a visit. It’s a perfect balance of fresh whole cone Saaz hops aromas, rich malty flavors, and a beautiful golden appearance. I love it.

Wayfinder CZAF

Wayfinder CZAF
Wayfinder

Sam Tierney, Propagator brewing manager at Firestone Walker Brewing Company in Paso Robles, California

ABV: 4.9%

Average Price: $6.99 for a 16-ounce can

Why This Beer?

I was recently at Wayfinder Beer in Portland, Oregon, and their Czech-style pilsner, aptly named CZAF was heaven in a glass poured expertly from their Lukr side-pull faucets. Brewmaster Kevin Davey has gone to great lengths to capture authentic Czech sensibility including Czech pilsner malt and Saaz hops, a triple decoction mash, and expertly-handled cold lager fermentation. It’s both bracingly bitter and sublimely drinkable at the same time, the balancing act that has made the authentic pilsner such a compelling beer for the past 179 years or so.

Sunken’ Silo Deemed Essential

Sunken’ Silo Deemed Essential
Sunken’ Silo

Jeremy Flounder Lees of Flounder Brewing Company in Hillsborough Township, New Jersey

ABV: 5.5%

Average Price: Limited Availability

Why This Beer?

Sunken’ Silo Brew Works Deemed Essential Pilsner is my favorite Bohemian-style pilsner. It’s just a delicious, clean, refreshing Pilsner made locally that has the perfect touch of Saaz hops. It’s great any time of year.

Hill Farmstead Poetica #3

Hill Farmstead Poetica #3
Hill Farmstead

Nancy Lopetegui, taproom general manager for Wynwood Brewing Co. in Miami

ABV: 4.8%

Average Price: Limited Availability

Why This Beer?

Poetica #3 by Hill Farmstead. Bready, lightly floral, and just a hint of lemon zest with grassy hops that complement. Crispy, bright, refreshing, and just what you’re looking for in a pilsner. It doesn’t get much better than this beer. Especially if you’re specifically getting into Bohemian-style pilsners.

Bunker Machine Czech Pilz

Bunker Machine Czech Pilz
Bunker

Kelsey Roth, general manager at Exhibit ‘A’ Brewing Company in Framingham, Massachusetts

ABV: 5.2%

Average Price: $10.99 for a four-pack of 16-ounce cans

Why This Beer?

With the obvious nod to Pilsner Urquell, my favorite domestic Bohemian-style pilsner is Machine Czech Pilz by Bunker Brewing Company in Portland, Maine. A Bohemian Pilsner needs to be super drinkable first and foremost, and Machine Czech Pils delivers every time. If I’m reaching for a beer to pair with my lobster roll, this beer is it.

Solid pale maltiness, light dryness, and just the right kick of balanced hops make this Pilsner one of my favorites.

Earth Rider Royal Bohemian

Earth Rider Royal Bohemian
Earth Rider

Garth E. Beyer, certified Cicerone® and owner and founder of Garth’s Brew Bar in Madison, Wisconsin

ABV: 5.5%

Average Price: Limited Availability

Why This Beer?

Water chemistry is insanely important to understand when brewing beer, especially a Bohemian-style pilsner. My recent favorite has been Earth Rider’s Royal Bohemian. They stick to the script of using Bohemian pilsner malt and they plus it up with German Saphir and Czech Saaz hops. To make matters even more delicious, they use Lake Superior water. It’s the cleanest water of the Great Lakes and is on the softer side, which is a tradition to have when brewing a Bohemian pilsner. Together you get a well-rounded light malt flavor with slight notes of herbal spice. This one is an instant classic and a go-to in my fridge.

Bell’s Lager of the Lakes

Bell’s Lager of the Lakes
Bell’s

Caroline O’Halloran, area sales director at Sprecher Brewing in Glendale, Wisconsin

ABV: 5%

Average Price: $11.50 for a six-pack

Why This Beer?

I could drink 1,000 Bell’s Lager of the Lakes. Its crisp, clean profile highlights the subtle hop bitterness. Crushable without losing its craft pilsner profile. It’s the kind of beer you’ll crave both in the middle of the summer and the depths of the dark winter. It hits the spot any time of year.

×