While classic pilsners are the domain of the Czech Republic, specifically Bohemia, they are also the most copied, ubiquitous, and uniquely interpreted beer in the world. Pilsners of other countries may stray slightly or significantly from the Bohemian originals, but this is not to say that the others can’t qualify as classic beers in their own right.
Pilsner is probably the most popular style in neighboring Germany. The German interpretation is a little lighter in body and color, and possesses a piercing, lingering hop character. German pilsner malt is generally used, as are noble hops like Tettnanger and Hallertau varieties. These crisp pils brews express all that is best in German brewing. Look for Spaten, Warsteiner, Bitburger, Einbecker and Dinkel-Acker, all of which are widely available.
Poland makes some delicious pilsners that remind one of the Czech style, though slightly lighter. They include Okocim OK, Krakus, and Zywiec. Poland has a thriving hop industry, and their utilization adds a certain individuality to their pilsners.
The Netherlands produces two giants, Grolsch and Heineken, that are light and refreshing, and one, Christofell Blond, that is hopped as copiously as any pils.
In the United States, pilsners are somewhat common in brewpubs and microbreweries, with both Czech and German interpretations available. Tabernash Pilsner is a crisp, clean, Saaz-accented example that is outstanding and combines both German and Czech qualities. Stoudt’s Pils from Pennsylvania is also one of the best.
Many pubs in Germany serve “keller bier,” or cellar beer. Straight from the cellar, unfiltered, fresh and chewy, two such bottled versions are available in the United States. St. Georgen Keller Bier, from Franconia, Germany, is a pilsner keller bier. Full of rich, fresh hops and substantial on the palate, it is worth a try. Tupper’s Hop Pocket Pils is also a cellared pils, always fresh and true to brewer Bob Tupper’s label and love of hops. The bottle conditioning gives the brew a unique edge.
The development of pilsner in Bohemia was a harmonic convergence of scientific application, craftsmanship and serendipity. Given the importance of beer in European history, it should be considered a watershed event, period. Copied from the Netherlands to the South Pacific, pilsner is by far the most popular beer style on the planet. If imitation is the highest form of flattery, in the world of beer, none has been cajoled more than pilsner.