Pilsners aren’t the most exotic or most exciting of beers on the shelf at your local store. It doesn’t help that certain, bland, mass-produced lagers have been billing themselves as pilsners for years. Real pilsners, though, can be a light but flavorful drink especially well-suited to summer days. A couple New England breweries have begun selling pilsners, and in cans no less, so you can take them to the beach or on a hike.
Narragansett Bohemian Pilsner and Moat Mountain Czech Pilsner are both good examples of the style, although they do differ in taste. Essentially, the Narragansett is more hop-forward and the Moat Mountain is more malt-forward. This is a little surprising, since the Narragansett pours a slightly darker shade of yellow. Both beers are exceptionally clear. The Moat Mountain has more carbonation giving it a frothier head.
In terms of flavor, the Narragansett Bohemian Pilsner is drier. Immediately on the nose, there’s floral and plant-like hops. In fact, it’s a bit reminiscent of beers actually brewed with flowers (like Magic Hat’s Pistil). On the tongue the hops give a little bit of a wet grass flavor that’s a bit astringent in the finish. There’s not very much citrus in the hop character, but a bit of lemon comes out as the beer warms. The malt also tends towards the dry side, calling crackers and bread crust to mind.
Moat Mountain Czech Pilsner tends towards the sweeter and fruitier side. The hops bring citrus flavors like lemon and orange, with a bit of black pepper. The malt has a strong roasty flavor mixed with some sweetness. It brings toast and graham crackers to mind. The overall effect is something like a lemon cookie.
Both these beers are great, and it’s good to see more craft pilsners on the shelf. Which you prefer will depend on your personal tastes. Trying both will give you a good idea of the possibilities of the pilsner style. This reviewer, though, gives a slight preference to the Moat Mountain Czech Pilsner.