Sometimes it’s just too hot for wine—even if it’s a chilled. So on those days, it’s best to reach for an ice cold Pilsner.
These light, sessionable brews are known for balancing hoppy bitterness with bright citrus. And while brewers have brought plenty of innovation to this historic style, the classic Pilsner remains exciting and delicious.
Here are 10 of our favorite American Pilsners.
Wayfinder CZAF; $20/16 oz 4 pack, 98 points. The malt profile of this beer is sweet and firm, with a bready quality that comes off as fresh and welcoming. A hop presence brings spice and earth, lending just the right amount of pleasant bitterness. All the while, the water profile still has a chance to shine. Assertive crispness keeps everything moving along nicely from the first sip to the last. —John Holl
Aslan Coastal Pils; $13/12oz 6 pack, 96 points. This is crisp and clean as a mountain stream, but with decidedly more barley and hops to it. This pilsner is rooted in the Old World but with an American sensibility for hops. It’s a beer for beach camping, enjoying post-hike or at the sushi joint around the corner. —J.H.
Perennial Pilsner; $10/16oz 4 pack, 96 points. With a delicate floral hop bouquet, this hoppy pilsner delivers on its name. It maintains a refreshing lager crispness while pushing the hop agenda that has pricks of pine, peels of citrus and a patina of tropical fruit funk. Start a night out with this beer and several others soon follow. —J.H.
Green Bench Kulture Khronicles Vol. II Keller Pils; $12/16oz 4 pack, 95 points. With aromas and flavors similar to Rice Krispies, this crisp lager has a fun, breezy quality to it that perks up the palate and teases with a bit of sweetness. The hop character comes on slowly and offers a small amount of earthy bitterness and even a little woodiness. There’s an undeniably fresh characteristic to this beer that offers some brightness to the mind and palate. This is a collaboration with Beer Kulture, a non-profit group that supports diversity and job creation in the beer industry. —J.H.
Reuben’s Pilsner; $11/12 oz 6 pack, 95 points. This pils is clear and golden in color, with a soft floral hop aroma that has a twinge of spice on the tail end. It’s a crisp and refreshing lager that is medium in weight, with bready malt tones and rounded carbonation that encourages big gulps. —J.H.
Trumer Pils; $10/12oz 6 pack, 95 points. In the tradition of a classic European pilsner, this crisp malt-forward lager has a noble hop bite and a smooth, dry finish. Served in a green bottle, it’s advised to drink quickly to avoid becoming light-struck, although a little touch of that skunky aroma, if it emerges, actually lends to a more authentic experience. Still, best to avoid that happening. This is a layered, classic rendering of a familiar style that is appealing to all generations of beer drinkers and demands to be enjoyed in a place where steins can be plunked together in celebration. —J.H.
Atlas Bullpen Pilsner; $11/12oz 6 pack, 94 points. They call this a “baseball beer” and it fits. It’s a pilsner that sustains you through day games with a refreshing buoyancy that has a crisp, dry finish. It’s a social lager that can be consumed from the can, a plastic up or a proper glass at home if you’re watching the game from your couch. —J.H.
Left Hand 1265 Pilsner; $11/12oz 6 pack, 94 points. When served cold, this crisp well-balanced pilsner hits the spot. It’s refreshing and satisfying, with cereal malt aromas and flavors, a bit of earthy hop bitterness that has threads of pine and a bread crust character throughout that gives it just a little bit of body for oomph. —J.H.
Pure Project Rain Unfiltered Pilsner; $15/16oz 4 pack, 94 points. With only the slightest bit of haze in an otherwise clear, golden yellow pilsner, there is a zippy hop character to this that leans on fresh pine and spicy lemon. Herbal characteristics build as it warms slightly, bringing a fresh, breezy aroma to the glass. —J.H.
Seventh Son Alpine Architecture; $11/12oz 6 pack, 94 points. A benefit of the recent pandemic, this beer was originally supposed to be draft only, but when keg sales dried up the brewery put this German-style pilsner into cans. Bready and slightly nutty malt aromas are mixed with spicy hops. It’s a lager with depth and skill behind it, for us to enjoy in the comforts of home. —J.H.
Last Updated: May 22, 2023