Probably the most famous Bavarian beer style, though Czech in origin, what defines a lager is its bottom fermenting yeast and cool ageing period post fermentation and pre bottling also known as lagering. We tried two Pilseners and two lagers, it seems that lager is a catch all term for bottom fermented beers including bocks and dunkels (dark lagers) while Pilsener is a lager in the style of Pilsen, the Czech town where it was first brewed. Incidentally a Pilsner (only one e) is apparently any beer brewed actually in Pilsen. With that all cleared up we poured the Pilseners.
I started with a Bamberger Herren Pils from Keesmann Bräu. It had a subtle but pleasing hop aroma reminiscent of freshly cut grass, a big head, and a very light, straw like, colour. The taste was also subtle with a very light maltiness, not much bitterness but a genuine hop flavour similar to the aroma. With a light and smooth carbonation the beer was very refreshing and I enjoyed it. On the other hand, Jess found it insipid and watery but thought she might prefer it on a hot summer’s day, that might have been because she had already tried…
The Bohemian Pilsener made by Weyermann had a much richer malty scent and a darker colour, translating into a very interesting malt flavour with dried apple or pear and not much hop presence. Saying that, the beer wasn’t overly sweet and lacked the sweet hit of bocks that I’ve tried recently; it was very nice and quite rounded. Jess thought it tasted a bit of raisins, “like a tea cake without the spice”, we both appreciated quite a gentle carbonation and Jess really loved this beer.
While opening the two lagers and wondering what was in store we talked over the Pilseners again, they really couldn’t have been much more different. The lagers poured a similar apricot colour, darker than the Pilseners and with a large head which died down quickly.
The first I tried was from Privatbrauerei Fässla. This had an interesting, earthy hop aroma mingled with a little sweet malt and a fuller flavour than the pilseners. There was great earthiness in the flavour too, a little malt but not too much and lovely little bubbles which reminded Jess of Champagne. We both really enjoyed this beer.
Brauerei Greifenklau’s lager turned out to be very similar but a bit brighter and more malty. Thanks to this and a slightly harsher carbonation we both went for the Fässla though this had a similar pleasing earthiness and was still a very enjoyable drink.
So there we are, two Pilseners that were surprisingly different and two lagers that were surprisingly similar. Jess’s pick was the Weyermann Bohemian Pilsener, mine was the Fässla lager but all the beer was tasty and interesting.