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Help me break free from Pilsner Urquell

Help a beer novice break away from Pilsner Urquell. I love it, but there must be another pilsner just as good out there! Suggestions? Am I forever stuck in Plzen?!?

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  1. I drink Summit Grand a Pilsner based on Pilsner Urquel. It is a St. Paul, MN regional brew.

    1. Plzen is the original and to my taste the best. Even though the new owners (SAB) have changed production a bit, a true Pilsner should be aged more than 2-4 days (as it seems most knock offs are) and should have a great "round" flavor. Most konock off's a thin, pale and sharp. If I could only have one last beer, it would be a fresh, original Plzen.

      1. There are plenty of beers as good or better than Pilsner Urquell ... which is indeed a good beer!

        If you are looking for a lager from a large brewer that is distributed pretty widely, I suggest Stella Artois from Belgium.

        Also I would strongly urge you to explore several craft beers at a local, well-stocked beer store. You can do this by picking up a couple of six-packs, and some places will allow you to create your own mixed six-pack. Most good beer stores have people who would be happy to guide you through your selection.

        Try a couple of non-pilsner/lager brews, too. During the summer, I like witbiers (Molson Coors makes one called Blue Moon), India pale ales, saisons and some of the German wheat beers.

        Who said "research" had to be boring?

        16 Replies
        1. re: Kirk

          Stella being better than Pilsner Urquell? Surely you must be joking.

          Stella is the Bud of European beers.

          1. re: Sir Gawain

            Chacun à son goût.

            As I said, Stella is a lager from a large brewer that is distributed widely, exactly like Pilsner Urquell -- which I suppose could be called the Miller of European beers, and indeed with more accuracy.

            The OP asked for alternatives to PU, not recommendations for the world's greatest beer. What would your nominations be for that, Sir Gawain?

            1. re: Kirk

              For staying within the genre - and I am by no means a huge Pilsner fan, not my favorite style - I think you might want to try Czechvar first of all (from a good importer; it's slightly sweeter and lighter but definitely a pilsner), BrouCzech (brewed in Nova Paka and available in the US), Herold as others have said, and the Slovak beer, Zlaty bazant (although it was better pre-Heineken acquisition).

              The problem with Pilsner Urquell in the US is that it skunks quickly. But if you're in the LA or NYC area, try to get yourself invited to Czech Consulate events and you'll have good fresh Czech beer - and for free! :-D

              If you are EVER in the Czech Republic, the absolute best beer - yes, and that's the objective truth - comes from a little microbrewery in Moravia in a town called Stramberk. The beer, called Trubac/Troobacz (comes in light and dark) isn't bottled and is unpasteurized. THE BEST, and still a secret even to most Czechs.

              1. re: Sir Gawain

                Thanks for the recommendations! I've seen Czechvar locally, and will try it and any of the others I can find. Unfortunately, I am not on the invitation list for Czech Consulate events here in Dallas, so I may have to pay my own way to explore these! :-D

                But I will definitely put Stramberk on my list of places to visit should I find myself in Moravia.

                1. re: Sir Gawain

                  In NYC, though I've never been to the Czech consulate, the Pilsner Urquell on tap at the Astoria beer garden (Bohemian Hall) is a dramatically different animal from what you pick up at the liquor store. I imagine this applies to any Czech bar/beer garden on either coast or in-between.

                  1. re: Spoony Bard

                    You are so right about the beer garden. The beer I had there was better than any I have ever had. It was ridiculously fresh. I tried them all. Making it back to Manhattan was tricky after that, but all in the name of research!

                  2. re: Sir Gawain

                    I had a Czechvar last week at a Serbian diner. Quite nice - nice round flavor, not too dry and with a sweet edge (just as you described). I liked it, and like you, I'm not much on pilsners either.

                    OP might want to try some of the Belgian or Belgian-style ales too. Chimay is quite acessable (Trader Joe's usually stocks them at a good price), and if he picks up one of each of their brews in the 750ml bottles - tripple, red and blue - they are a nice intro to this huge array of incredible beers. And if the OP drinks them in that order (I would suggest with at least one friend), it will be an appropriate progression from light to heaven...

                2. re: Sir Gawain

                  Bud is better. There was another thread about the marketing ploys of Stella.

                  1. re: Passadumkeg

                    Bud is disgusting. Easily the most disgusting beer I have ever drank.

                    If you want a good cheap beer you NEED to try Yuengling.

                    1. re: johnlance

                      Why is Bud disgusting, and what's so great about Yuengling?

                      1. re: Jim Dorsch

                        People say that all the time and I don't get it. Bud, Bud Light, etc don't taste bad they just lack real character (particularly Bud Light or any light beer). "Disgusting" would be a more understandable reaction if the beer were say a rauchbier or a sour because they're so unusual tasting to many (not me, luv em both).

                        Thanks

                        1. re: Chinon00

                          I certainly hear that all the time about rauchbier! "Tastes like beef jerky!" I love it, too, as well as sour beer.

                          1. re: Jim Dorsch

                            See, I wouldn't have minded my first impression being "beef jerky". Mine was "smoked fish". I remember a couple of bottles of a six pack I bought in the late 1970's (I think it was Kaiserdom's back then rather than Schlenkerla- came in a light amber stubby/steinie-ish bottle similar to the Kindl Berliner Weisse bottle) that spent years in my refrigerator (labels fell off and caps started to rust due to the humidity, etc). Probably sat around longer than any other beer until I started a cellar.

                            I can appreciate it more today, but I still go months or years between bottles (and still sometimes think "smoked whiting" when I first take a sip).

                            I had a friend who was in the service stationed in West Germany in the early 1960's and his impression was "it was like smoking a cigarette and drinking a beer at the same time!" Hmmm... sounds great.

                            I bought him a few bottles of Schlenkerla once when I told him it was easily available in the US. He didn't really care for it anymore (not much of a beer drinker now- that was in his wild youth running tanks across German farmers' fields...) so I got to take home the rest of them.

                          2. re: Chinon00

                            I think American adjunct lagers are specifically designed to be bland and to not offend anyone. Unfortunately, that also means they have next to no flavor. It's unclear to me whether the Big 3 American brewers are responding to the bland American beer drinking preference or whether Americans buy bland beer because that's what they're being sold for the most part. I would think that anyone who drinks say Trumer Pils or Victory next to bud lite or miller would opt for Trumer or Victory every time, but I could be wrong.

                            1. re: chuckl

                              I think that some people fear a flavorful beer, just like I fear stinky cheese.

                              People do change, but I think it's gradual, and I'm sure many drink macro beer in some circumstances and imports or craft in others. It's nonetheless hard for me to understand, since I never drink macro lager, except when I'm trying to prove a point. I drank a Bud a while back (to prove a point) and I did OK with it. I also drank an entire 24oz can of Hurricane High Gravity one time, just to say I did.

                        2. re: johnlance

                          John Lance, I think I was drinking Yuengling, before you were born, sonny. My family were coal miners from Schuylkill Co., Pa. Funny we wouldn't drink Yuengling at an area college in the 60's, we went for cheaper stuff like Gibbon's Ale. I like Yuengling's now, but can't get it this far north.
                          Drinking a warm Bud sitting on top of a bunker in 'Nam in '67-68, watching the sun set, gave me a life long affection for this brew. Just don't give a lite beer of any shape, form or variety.

                  2. Trumer and Blue Paddle are both excellent pilsners widely available in the Bay Area (often on tap). Trumer is brewed in Berkeley, Blue Paddle is brewed by the New Belguim Brewing Company in Colorado.

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: Morton the Mousse

                      Yes, Trumer Pils is wonderful. Haven't had it on tap yet, but it is available by the bottle in select locations in AZ. Wow. The same wonderful depth of flavor and balance between malt and hops like Urquell, but (imho) a fresher, more complex taste. I also love pilsners, and this is the first I've had in the US that tasted as good overall as the best European pilsners do in Europe.

                      ed

                      1. re: Phoo D

                        I'm so ashamed! Of course I should be tasting Trumer Pils. I live in Oakland and they're right next door. This evening I'm off to find a bar serving it on tap. I will not rest until sampling the local pils! Thanks Morton and Phoo!

                        1. re: waste49

                          It's probably hard to find around Oakland, but the Troeg's Sunshine Pils is great. As is the previously mentioned Prima Pils by Victory.

                    2. If you like pilsener and you live in the U.S., your choices will no doubt be disappointingly few. In my experience, there aren't many widely distributed pilseners in the U.S. worth the glass bottles they're in. It is, however, the most popular style of beer in Germany and the Czech Republic (go figure). Becks and Urquell (German and Czech, respectively) have wide U.S. distribution, but brew it here in the States (and have a slightly changed formula, I believe). Moreover, the beer is usually served too cold when had in a bottle at a bar. When visiting the two countries, I found their competitors to offer far more interesting pilseners -- some less bitter, some more malty, some more hops-y. It's a shame that most don't make it across the pond, but you might find a more obscure Pils at a specialty store. Alas, the difference in price versus in-EU on such a bottle is likely to be several hundred percent.

                      Becks is any easy find, but it's an average German pilsener, though I do like it more than Urquell. Krušovice is my favorite of the easier-to-find Czech beers. Not sure about their U.S. distribution, but it's small if any. Löwenbräu, a Munich pilsener, is easier to find, but really quite bitter. Additionally, my favorite Polish beer is a pilsener called Żywiec, and with luck you can find it in the States. About half the bars in Greenpoint, Brooklyn serve it, owing to the Polish population here.

                      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pils#Lis...

                      4 Replies
                      1. re: steven

                        Last I checked, Beck's and Pilsner Urquell are both brewed in their home countries for US sale.

                        1. re: steven

                          Krusovice was one of my favorite beers when visiting Prague. Sadly, I have not been able to find it anywhere in Boston, even at the stores that carry a large range or imports. Guess another trip is in order.

                          1. re: Ali G

                            I'm replying to a 2-year old comment, so you may have already located this beer in the Boston area.

                            If not, you can get Kruscovice at the Wine&Cheese Cask in Somerville. I just polished off a pint...good stuff!

                          2. re: steven

                            Pilsner Urquell is NOT brewed in the US, but it is true that the US-export formula is slightly different and not nearly as good as the real thing on tap.

                          3. To my taste buds, Pilsner Urguell is very average and, far too often is lightstruck, or skunked, due to the brewery's use of green bottles and poor handling by distributors and retailers who don't know any better. The skunkiness problem is so widespread that many Americans just think that is how an imported Pilsner is supposed to smell and taste.

                            While I prefer the German Pilsner style to the Czech, a great Czech Pilsner is Herold Traditional Czech Lager. Not sure whether it is available in San Francisco.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: brentk

                              Oh, man! Herold is incredible! One of the best Lagers I've ever had. I buy it through mail order, though, and have to pay a premium for shipping.

                            2. Look for Czechvar (Brewery Budweiser Budvar - the original Budweiser - but that's a whole different topic). Should be distributed pretty widely in the US.
                              http://beeradvocate.com/beer/profile/...

                              I've seen this one once in a while also.
                              B.B. Budweiser Bürgerbräu Svetly http://beeradvocate.com/beer/profile/...

                              These beers are probably best if you buy them in an enclosed case or twelve pack. As someone mentioned, green bottles exposed to light will skunk a beer pretty quickly.

                              If you post the area you live in, I could recommend a locally made pils. For this style fresh is best.

                              1. Pilsner Urquell in the states is a plae version of the real stuff in the Czech republic. It is invariably skunked over here. My opinion is that you should try drinking the local style of beer. Beer doesnt travel well so i generally drink american west coast IPA's as that is the best style brewed in America. There are styles that can travel and they are generally not high in alcohol, hence not pilsners.

                                1. With CA availability in mind, my personal ranking for Czech beer goes as follows. I suspect yours might run in the opposite direction, given the degree of bitterness in Urquell:

                                  Staropramen
                                  Czechvar
                                  Pilsner Urquell

                                  1. http://www.lagunitas.com/beers/pilsne...
                                    Have you checked out this offering from the other side of the Bay?

                                    1. If you're trying to break free from Pilsner Urquell, why not expand your palate to something other than pilsner?

                                      The world of beer is vast, waste49. Here's a suggestion of some beers you should try, all of which should be readily available:

                                      Import:
                                      Samuel Smiths - Nut Brown Ale, Oatmeal Stout, Taddy Porter
                                      Young's - Special London Ale
                                      Fuller's - ESB, London Porter, London Pride
                                      Chimay - Cinq Cents (White label)
                                      Hoegaarden
                                      Saison Dupont
                                      Marston's - Pedigree
                                      Orval Trappist Ale
                                      Paulaner - Marzen

                                      Domestic Craft Brew:
                                      Anchor (should be easy for you to find, eh?) - Liberty Ale, Steam Beer, Porter
                                      Ommegang - Hennepin
                                      Avery - White Rascal
                                      Victory - Prima Pils (this is a great pilsner that will make you forget Urquell existed)
                                      Stone - Levitation, India Pale Ale, Smoked Porter
                                      Deschutes Brewery - Mirror Pond Pale Ale, Black Butte Porter
                                      Russian River Brewing - Damnation
                                      AleSmith - Anvil ESB, IPA
                                      Rogue - Morimoto Soba Ale, Morimoto Black Ale

                                      That's a good start - many great beers in that list. Happy drinking!

                                      3 Replies
                                      1. re: Josh

                                        Orval is my favorite beer in the world but is very sensitive to storage, as well as really expensive. From US beers, I love hennepin.

                                        1. re: Sir Gawain

                                          If you like Orval and are in the midwest, see if you can find Goose Island's Matilda.

                                          1. re: Jim Dorsch

                                            Have to second The Redoubtable Jim Dorsch's endorsement of Jever Pils from Hamburg.

                                            It is a revelation...if they haven't dumbed it down as was done to so many.

                                            The hops are extreme but entirely within the experience.

                                      2. It may be a bit hard to find, but it does have some distribution in the U.S. - Jever Pils. It's one of Germany's favorite Pilsners. It is a bit bitter.

                                        1. Although the name makes me chuckle, Golden Shower Imperial Pilsner shows once again that Dogfish Head is one of the top breweries in the US:

                                          http://www.dogfish.com/brewings/Limit...

                                          I tried some the other night and I now know why Pilsner is such a popluar style in some of the best beer countries in the world.

                                          6 Replies
                                          1. re: Matt986

                                            Rogue's Imperial Pilsner is also quite good. Comes in a giant ceramic bottle. Avery in Colorado makes one too, called the Kaiser, but it's only available in Colorado.

                                            1. re: Josh

                                              The Kaiser has been sold in Northern Virginia.

                                              1. re: Jim Dorsch

                                                Lucky Virginians!

                                                Actually, come to think of it, I have seen it at one place here in SoCal. I guess the distro is just really limited.

                                                1. re: Jim Dorsch

                                                  where is it sold in northern virginia?

                                                  1. re: bearwthme4

                                                    I'm not sure it's available now (can never remember this stuff), but it can be found at the right time at better shops. Call the wholesaler, Hop & Wine, at 703-550-2010.

                                              2. re: Matt986

                                                I had a bottle of the Dogfish Imperial Pilsner last night - pricey (I paid almost $10 for a 750 ml bottle here in Seattle), but good. Changed my impression of what a pilsner could be (although I'm pretty new to the pilsner thing).

                                              3. tough to beat pilsner urquel for a good pilsner. i have tried many and always go back. i have drank them in the states and in prague - both are delicious.

                                                1 Reply
                                                1. re: xman887

                                                  About a decade ago the Urquell brewery made an important alteration in their fermentation routine. Need we note that it was a step forward in modernity and three back in quality?

                                                  Yes, you will always fine geezers avowing, "Ah! If you coulda only had the real Boddys. That WAS a beer!"

                                                  But it is generally true. Many, many brewers slide toward that big, broad trough in the center where th $$ are.

                                                2. If you're able to find Ayinger Jahrhundertsbier, it's a Munich light lager, not a Czech Pils, but I've found it a deliciously drinkable summer discovery. It's light with subtle flavors, not skunky like so many green-bottled European lagers. Now if only I could find it by the case...

                                                  1. In Minnesota, we can get Staropramen, another true Czech pils. When I was in Prague, it was more popular that Urquell or Budvar (sold as Czechvar here in the states). Very tasty.

                                                    And what's wrong with liking only Czech pils? Some people like only British pale ales. Others like only yankee lite 'beers'. Some don't like beer at all.

                                                    7 Replies
                                                    1. re: Loren3

                                                      The same thing that's wrong with only liking pepperoni pizza.

                                                      1. re: Josh

                                                        If Czech pils were the beer equivalent of Wonderbread, I might buy into that, but it's not.

                                                        1. re: Jim Dorsch

                                                          k, I updated my metaphor. Happy?

                                                          Also I'm not saying there's anything wrong with Czech pils. But, if you're getting tired of Pilsner Urquell, jumping to another pilsner seems a strange concept. Considering all the truly amazing beers out there, many of which offer substantially more complex palates than pilsner, why limit oneself to what is arguably one of the least engaging varieties of beer that's produced?

                                                          Sure, Czech pils blows American macro away, no question. But that's not really such a tough competition, is it?

                                                          1. re: Josh

                                                            Yes, I like the new metaphor, and points taken on limiting oneself to a single style.

                                                            I think a pils drinker might consider Koelsch, Munchener Helles, Oktoberfest/Maerzen, for example.

                                                            1. re: Josh

                                                              You know Josh, the patriot in me (I'm Czech and from a family of beer FANATICS) doesn't like what you are saying, and frankly it seems to me that you don't 'get' pilsner. It is NOT "one of the least engaging varieties of beer" - that is only your opinion. I suspect that your palate simply prefers other kinds of beer and that's fine, but don't dismiss an entire style of beer based on your limited understanding and/or experience. Perhaps you have never had a good Czech (or German, whatever) pilsner - unpasteurized, fresh, at the source. And Czech pilsner being good is NOT just a matter of being better than the yellow water that Anheuser Busch sells, but then again I suspect you haven't had much experience with truly superb European pilsners, probably knowing just the bottled imported (old... improperly stored... skunked) or American stuff.

                                                              The OP wanted recommendations for another PILSNER (and he's not getting "tired" of Urquell - reread the post) but you gave him anything but, with one exception.

                                                              Personally, my favorite beers are Belgian trappist ales (Orval is my absolute favorite) and I really, really, really can't abide Guinness, but I don't go around telling people who like it that it's a boring beer (though to me, it sure is - might as well be drinking molasses) and they really need to move on to Chimay. 'Coz I realize that I just don't 'get' Guinness.

                                                              There should be an interesting article on Czech beers in the WSJ sometime in July, in case you get it. Written from a drinker's point of view.

                                                              1. re: Sir Gawain

                                                                You may not need to draw such fine distinctions. Remeber, pils had its initial ascedancy as an eye-delight after centuries of murky and problematic ales.

                                                                It is "appetizing," intended to sharpen the palate and the mind.

                                                                Many Americans confuse BIG AND CLUMSY beers with a proper beer experience.

                                                                All beers have a place in the firmament.

                                                              2. re: Josh

                                                                Sir Gawain, sorry if you're offended, but as someone who has consumed a great many beers from all over the world, it's my informed opinion that pilsner is not as interesting as some other styles of beer that exist.

                                                                While the OP did indeed ask for suggestions of other pilsners, there's no law that says I can't offer the suggestion that he broaden his horizons beyond one style of beer!

                                                                I don't think I dismissed an entire style. It's funny that you would say that considering I even recommended a couple of other pilsners. But are you really going to sit there and argue that there are pilsners that even approach the complexity of a good Belgian ale? Let's get real here!

                                                                The method of production differs dramatically between ales and lagers. Lager yeasts produce a more refined, cleaner flavor than ale yeasts do. I have nothing against lagers, and lager is one of my favorite kinds of beers. It's the best on hot days, and goes really well with certain kinds of food.

                                                                I pretty much agree with you about Guinness. It's a decent enough stout, but there are a lot of stouts and porters out there now that I think are more interesting.

                                                                I don't think it's a matter of you not "getting" Guinness. You seem to be arguing that it's inappropriate to have opinions!

                                                                I've exposed a lot of people to Belgian trappist-style ales, and traditional lambic, and the results are mixed. They usually find them too strange, too sour, or just not tasting enough "like beer". Pilsner, on the other hand, is much more straightforward and easy to appreciate.

                                                        2. You must drink it as they serve it in Praha.

                                                          In a huge Pilsner mug shaken to make a huge head.

                                                          That is the only way.

                                                          1. I love Czech Pilsners. I have been drinking Pilsner Urquell forever and find that it is actually fresher the last couple of years probably because they changed distributors. I like 2 better. Rebel, and my favorite Vysckovske.

                                                            1. As far as German Pilsners, Spaten is distributing Dinkel Acker which makes it fairly available at least here in the Boston Area, its also fairly inexpensive. PU would sell more, so some risk of it being skunked (green bottle), but I have had pretty good luck. Brooklyn pilsner is pretty good, but a bit difficult to find (the lager is everywhere)... and Victory is starting to be distributed and is excellent. All of these are a bit hoppier than the PU

                                                              1. I like Scrimshaw, made by North Coast Brewing in California.

                                                                http://www.northcoastbrewing.com/scri...

                                                                1. CRISTAL=THE ORIGINAL BUD-ONLY 10X BETTER!

                                                                  2 Replies
                                                                  1. re: netmover

                                                                    I just had Cristal at a Peruvian restaurant the other night. It was amazing! Definitely worth seeking out - a very balanced, malty lager that went perfectly with my pan-fried trout and ceviche.
                                                                    But for the real original Bud, check here:
                                                                    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Budweise...

                                                                    ...and drop the CAPS_LOCK.

                                                                    1. re: rdowd

                                                                      There are quite a few beers with the name "Cristal" in them that are brewed in South America- I'm guessing you had one of them.

                                                                      Netmover was no doubt referring to the beer brewed by the Budějovický Měšťanský Pivovar in Budweis which is marketed under the name "Crystal" in the US (IIRC it's also sold as "Samson") and which is sometimes pushed by local retailers/wholesalers in the states as the "real" Budweiser. It makes some sense- it's from Budweis and the brewery does pre-date Anheuser-Busch's brand (unlike Budvar Budweis/Czechvar).

                                                                  2. Jess,

                                                                    Is this the same brew as Burgerbrau? I had no idea that they had seniority on Budvar/Czechvar. I've had that as well, although I prefer Czechvar for drinkability. Definitely check out the Peruvian Cristal if you get a chance - a very different strain than its European predecessors.

                                                                    1. Josh,
                                                                      Good list, I agree with all, but put in a widmer hefe for a hot day, Pref on tap
                                                                      Jody

                                                                      1. trumer pils is pretty good. it's brewed state-side in oakland, california i think. mighty tasty on a warm day.

                                                                        1. Although it was already mentioned, Victory Prima Pils is WONDERFUL!
                                                                          http://www.victorybeer.com/pils.html

                                                                          1. No idea iof it is even available in the US, but Holsten Pils is always hard to beat. (actually come to think of it, no idea if it is even still available in the UK!)

                                                                            1. Lagunitas Pils compares to Urquell and is fairly widely distributed.

                                                                              1. Victory is my favorite, but I also love the spiciness of Pikeland Pils by Sly Fox. I just seems to drink well out of a can as well.

                                                                                1. Here are some suggestions:
                                                                                  Kozel Svétlý (pale/light) and Černý (dark) are good
                                                                                  http://www.kozel.cz/en/products/dark....

                                                                                  Starobrno
                                                                                  http://www.starobrno.cz/doc/cms/18/

                                                                                  Staropramen Dark and Lager are other good choices
                                                                                  http://www.staropramen.com/english/in...

                                                                                  1. After three days in Prague, I was spoiled forever. How can you beat the best damn beer you ever drank, for 85 cents a pint? They sell it off street carts, all over the place, and it's always the best beer you've ever had - each time.
                                                                                    If you've only had it in the US, you've never had it - just like Guinness here has no relation to what you get in GB.
                                                                                    If you can get to Canada, you can get real Guinness. I haven't found PU there, but try Czerna Hora, a very close pilsner relative.

                                                                                    4 Replies
                                                                                    1. re: joreill21

                                                                                      One of my beer wishes is to sample each of the black lagers of the Czech Republic; the only one we get here is Herold, and it's wonderful. As to the Pilsners- Starobrno is the imported version that really did it for me, the others are always hit or miss (and PU, as has been mentioned before,, has been on the decline). Sadly we don't have very many domestically brewed Czech Pils, so getting a fresh version can be a challenge. It is a wonderful style. In their absence, though, I have really taken a shine to our locally made North German style Pils- drier, more bitter and aromatic, more agressive, I guess, but quality beer nonetheless. And fresh!

                                                                                      With beer, freshness is definitely the key, especially when it comes to styles that are meant to be quaffed in quantity. You may have have touched on that with your Guinness remark, without even knowing about it. If you are speaking about the 'Extra Stout' I have no doubt that it is fresher and better in Canada, because that is where it is brewed! Keep that in mind when drinking in the States- we have a vast variety of styles to choose from, some of our own invention, some that are more along the lines of an homage. No matter where you go, you can drink 'local', like you would in Prague, and never want for quality (...allright...I will qualify that with the caveat that you should do a bit of research, first)- you just have to be a little open to some stylistic variability. For example, don't drink Guinness in New England- drink Ipswich Oatmeal Stout or Geary's Porter. You'll have a much better experience. The same, of course, goes for the rest of the country- lots of great beer here, and it's only getting better.

                                                                                      1. re: joreill21

                                                                                        "If you can get to Canada, you can get real Guinness."

                                                                                        Well, there are a number of "Guinness" stouts brewed (and brewed under license) around the world, so one never knows what someone means by "real" Guinness.

                                                                                        According to the Ontario Beer Store website http://www.thebeerstore.ca/ they get a similar Guinness selection as we do in the states. "Guinness Draught" from Diageo (Ireland) and the contracted Guinness Extra Stout from Labatt. In the US, we also get the GES brewed under license by Moosehead, as well (in NJ, the 24 oz. bottles are from Labatt, the 12 oz'ers from Moosehead- other US markets may differ). Don't know about the other provinces besides Ontario in Canada, but I can't imagine it being much different.

                                                                                        1. re: JessKidden

                                                                                          Hey Jess...where is the Foriegn Extra Stout being brewed and sold these days? Is that still a different brew than the bottled Extra Stout or has the line faded?

                                                                                          1. re: The Professor

                                                                                            At least, both at St. James Gate and Desnoes & Geddes (the Red Stripe brewery in Jamaica, which is owned by Diageo, too) that I've seen. I think Guinness once had separate brewery in Jamaica before buying D&G.

                                                                                            Also, there's a Nigerian FES that famously uses sorghum and, from what I remember, is exported back to the British Isles. SAB used to brew FES for other African markets, as well. Pretty sure there are (or at least, were) Asian brewed FES, as well.

                                                                                            Most sources still put the FES abv at 7.5% (tho' obviously they all aren't necessarily the same recipe). Even the Guinness that was most commonly exported to the US up until 1960's was also the FES, which may be the reason that so many Americans still think "Guinness" is strong and/or is only meant to be mixed with another, lower ABV beer. The "half and half" (no "Black & Tan" terminology at the time) was a major fixture of Guinness' US advertising in that era.

                                                                                            http://gono.com/adart/new/view_pic_ne...
                                                                                            http://gono.com/adart/new/view_pic_ne... (Note that the importer at the time was the liquor company, Heublein- which, coincidentally, is now part of Diageo, having been bought by Grand Met, the "other half" of Diageo).

                                                                                            And, of course, there's also the European market's "Guinness Special Export Stout".

                                                                                      2. Just thought, since its significant to the topic here, that I would post this link (http://www.gourmet.com/winespiritsbee...) to Gourmet Magazine's artical about "great pilsners" that came out recently. A lot of the same names as have been mentioned here already. The list seems to come from the point of view of the "resurgent" pilsners relatively easily available in the US now so there is no mention of the impossible to find Czech and German brands that have already been talked about. Dont know if I agree that Mama’s Little Yella Pils is the best of the bunch but its good to see this much maligned style getting more and more respect by legitimate sources lately...

                                                                                        2 Replies
                                                                                        1. re: Insidious Rex

                                                                                          I don't see anything in the article that says they're ranked, so perhaps this is just eight good beers in no particular order.

                                                                                          1. re: Jim Dorsch

                                                                                            Lets hope. They should at least qualify it with the standard "in no particular order" as you note and/or not use numbers which begs an enterpritation of ranking.

                                                                                        2. I just got back for Prague, and after drinking superhuman amounts of unbelievable fresh Pilsner Urquell there (in the White Tiger), I fear I will not be able to drink our version here anymore, and I live in NYC and am a regular at the Bohemian Hall and Beer Garden. The only things that have taken my mind briefly off that taste are Jever and Victory Prima Pils.

                                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                                          1. re: Paulomet

                                                                                            Starting in Aug 2012, Pilsner Urquell will be expressed cold shipped to the US from the Pilsen brewery. It will be stored in cold storage at the distributor and the 6 packs will be completely enclosed to block light strike damage. Enjoy!

                                                                                          2. There are a number of other Czech pilsners that you can buy in the States, Budvar is one that comes to mind. Alternatively, I'd suggest that you try some of the Bavarian helles (light) lagers: Augustiner is the best but also Paulaner, Hofbrau, Spaten, Paulaner, these are very similar to pilsners but will expand your horizons a bit.

                                                                                            1. I love thread necromancy! :-P

                                                                                              I'm just back from two weeks in the Czech Republic and have to say that it was absolutely refreshing to drink beer that enables one to reflect on subtle nuances and not be overwhelmed by trendy styles, ingredients and ridiculous names. As a home-brewer, this has totally changed my palate and idea of what beer should taste like, absolutely not "boring" but enlightening. The trip has ruined me in terms of "proper" beer availability and cost in the US - and I think I smoked a few cartons of cigarettes second hand! Cannot wait to return.

                                                                                              Other than X33 at U Medvídků, I drank only Světlý, Tmavý and Pšeničné (Light, Dark and Wheat). This book helped http://www.amazon.com/Good-Guide-Prag...

                                                                                              Even the "bad" beers were drinkable (ahem... Starbrno.) but the standouts:

                                                                                              Praha:
                                                                                              Pivovarsky Dum
                                                                                              U Medvídků

                                                                                              Brno:
                                                                                              U Blahovky (BEST Pilsner Urquell
                                                                                              )Hotel Pegas
                                                                                              Freeland (Dalešice!)

                                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                                              1. re: wongadon

                                                                                                Wongadon, yer killin us here. Czech beers are delighful and drinkable year round no matter the weather. Sadly, most don't travel well or even travel at all. It's a shame 'cause Czech beers define locavore when it comes to beer. My last beer ever? A FRESHLY drawn PLZEN (pre sell out).

                                                                                              2. There are plenty of alternatives, Czechvar is another good Czech pilsner, the Munich breweries (Paulaner, Spaten, Hacker-Pschorr, Hofbrau, Augustiner, Lowenbrau) have great pilsners and light lagers, Stella is a good solid option, a mainstay in Europe for years (not sure why it's so bashed here except I guess it's "fashionable" now). Not many great pilsners in the US but Trumer and Victory are good. Other good light beers would be Sam Adams, Sierra Nevada Pale ale . . . and too many others to mention. Finally, I'm not sure why so many folks here seem to reguarly get skunked European beer--may be how it's distributed. Here in Seattle if you buy it from a retailer with quick turnover you'll usually get a reasonably fresh product (although there's nothing like the source with pilsners).

                                                                                                9 Replies
                                                                                                1. re: tevis

                                                                                                  Good suggestions, and I agree with your comment on Stella It's a good beer that's well made...it's main sins among the beer snobs (and please understand that I used to be one myself) are that it's made by a big company and it's flavor profile is on the lighter side of things. While my preference, like some other beer lovers, is generally for a beer with a bit more substance, I can still recognize that Stella is a very well made product, and can actually be a quite refreshing change from the current endless crop of 'envelope pushing' beers. It may not be to everyone's taste, but is is well crafted.
                                                                                                  Im fact, I had one a few days ago while waiting for a train in NY city...and it was delicious.

                                                                                                  1. re: The Professor

                                                                                                    Speaking for myself, as someone who doesn't like Stella, the fact it's made by a big company is totally irrelevant. Guinness is made by a big company and I'll happily drink that. Stella is boring and bland, and those are the sins that I care about. There are plenty of non-extreme craft beers out there that are worth people's attention.

                                                                                                    1. re: The Professor

                                                                                                      I would NEVER suggest Stella to someone who likes Urquell or any other Czech or German pils for that matter. Stella is just a different and more simplistic style. Characteristics plentiful in pilsners include: lemon, grass, nuts, and noble hop aroma, flavor and bite. None of those charateristics describe Stella AT ALL.

                                                                                                      1. re: Chinon00

                                                                                                        Agreed that it's got a 'simple' profile.
                                                                                                        And it's not to your tastes...that's fine.

                                                                                                        It may not be the first choice for me either...but just because it's "simple" doesn't automatically make it a bad beer.

                                                                                                        "Boring" and "Bland" are personal observations. Perfectly legitimate ones, but not universal. It's all a matter of personal taste.
                                                                                                        Like I've said a million times, I like "big" and "over the top" beers too, even though the current fad is taking it to extremes that prove that the smaller brewers don't always get it right either. And I've had plenty of so called 'craft' brews that I would term as bland as well.
                                                                                                        Anyway...different strokes for different folks. After all, there are folks that call Guinness boring and bland, so there you go (I happen to disagree with them on that too, at least regarding the bottled product; the draught Guinness falls short for me)...
                                                                                                        I have a pretty eclectic palate and just happen to enjoy well done _subtlety_ as much as I enjoy a well made mega hopped ethanol bomb.
                                                                                                        Anyway, it's really not a big deal...just do what I do...drink what you like and ignore the rest.
                                                                                                        The _only_ "taste" opinion that matters in the end is one's own.

                                                                                                        1. re: The Professor

                                                                                                          The only thing that I said about Stella was that it would be a poor suggestion in my assessment for someone who claims to like Czech or German pils. I didn't say that it was a bad beer.
                                                                                                          And as lover of both Czech and German pils I refuse to let them be mixed in with Euro lagers. They are not the same.

                                                                                                          1. re: Chinon00

                                                                                                            Chinon, right, but to be precise about it German pilsners typically have a different profile from Czech pilsners, let alone pilsners from anywhere else. The poster (self-professed "novice") seemed to me to be asking for good widely available European lagers. As a PU fanatic, I wouldn't compare Stella with it either but if someone is just looking for a good European lager (pilsner, helles, whatever) they both fit that mold.

                                                                                                            1. re: tevis

                                                                                                              The OP stated: "I love [Pilsner Urquell], but there must be another pilsner just as good out there! Suggestions?"

                                                                                                              Sounds pretty specific to me.

                                                                                                              I often hear pale colored lagers conflated into one general category. It's my job to not let that happen.

                                                                                                              1. re: Chinon00

                                                                                                                I am hard-pressed to imagine that someone who really likes Pilsner Urquell would be similarly delighted by Stella (or Spaten). Prima Pils might be a good choice, though.

                                                                                                          2. re: The Professor

                                                                                                            There's a big landscape between bland and big. I love well-made lagers. Two of my favorite beers in the world are Schonramer Pils and Ayinger Jahrhundert. I don't think Stella is a bad beer, I was simply refuting your assertion that people who don't like Stella hold that opinion because it's a ligher style and made by a big company. My favorite styles all tend to be lighter: lager, lambic, witbier, Unibroue's Ephemere.

                                                                                                            Also, I can easily see someone finding Guinness boring (heck, I find it boring), but I don't know that anyone would call it bland - the strong roasted flavor would seem to argue against that descriptor.

                                                                                                    2. An open question to you beer freaks (said w/ affection). Could San Francisco Steam Beer be the first popular modern craft beer in the US? And could it be an acceptable alternative to PU (Which I first drank at Czech pavilion at Expo '67, by the pitcher full.)?

                                                                                                      3 Replies
                                                                                                      1. re: Passadumkeg

                                                                                                        Well I'll second Anchor Steam, but didn't they just sell out to some mega-brewer? And I'll add Brooklyn lager, which I don't believe has been mentioned yet in this ancient thread.

                                                                                                        1. re: steamer

                                                                                                          "Well I'll second Anchor Steam, but didn't they just sell out to some mega-brewer?"

                                                                                                          "Mega-brewer"? No. A small investment company that owns a small importer and a share of tiny Scottish brewer, Brewdog. http://www.anchorbrewing.com/Griffin-...

                                                                                                          1. re: JessKidden

                                                                                                            Good to know.

                                                                                                      2. This might be considered blasphemous but have you ever tasted a nice cold Coors Banquet Beer?

                                                                                                        9 Replies
                                                                                                        1. re: chimay5

                                                                                                          Blasphemy! Blasphemy! Blasphemy! The same weight as a duck? Burn her/him! Burn him/her!
                                                                                                          Colorado Kool-Aid instead of a P U? It's gotta be the heat.

                                                                                                          1. re: Passadumkeg

                                                                                                            heh, heh.

                                                                                                          2. re: chimay5

                                                                                                            Blech.

                                                                                                            1. re: chimay5

                                                                                                              let it warm up a bit, have a sip, then get back to us. Good beer is good beer and cold is not a flavor. Quite the contrary

                                                                                                              1. re: chuckl

                                                                                                                Exactly, Chuckl! I believe that if you can drink a beer unchilled, then it is likely a good beer.

                                                                                                                1. re: Tripeler

                                                                                                                  Ales 55For "cellar Temperature"
                                                                                                                  Lagers 45F (if they are quality)
                                                                                                                  Industrial Lagers 40F and lower

                                                                                                                  Why? The chill paralyzes your taste buds and allows the corn to slide down masquerading as malt.

                                                                                                                  1. re: Smitty150

                                                                                                                    "Ale" and "Lager" are braod categories. I'd say the lighter the style the lower the temperature regardless of the yeast.

                                                                                                                    1. re: Chinon00

                                                                                                                      You would be incorrect.

                                                                                                                      Boddy's or any pale bitter would be served at 55F - same for a fine Czech pils.

                                                                                                                      Your mouth is 98F. What is "warm" abolut 55F?

                                                                                                                      1. re: Smitty150

                                                                                                                        But a Czech pils is a lager; and above you said lager should be served at 45F.

                                                                                                            2. Been drinking a lot of lager this summer - many times ice cold and right out of the bottle as a thrist quencher. My default go to is St. Pauli Girl (but only less than six months old in sealed 12 packs) IMO the best bang for the buck in lager these days - I mean, who wants to pay $2 a bottle just to slug 6 of them down ice cold? Sierra Nevada Summerfest is also a staple, and 12 packs are priced right. Pilsner Urquell is coming on strong on the radar screen too - but sometimes, the diacetyl gets annoying to me when it warms. Wish I could find some decently fresh Spaten lager as I feel the others in their lineup have improved somewhat recently. Have had a few craft lagers, but at the price, inconsistency from year to year, or over the top hop character which detracts from drinkability, don't get too much play in my house - if I'm going that route, may as well just buy an IPA imo. I'm probably one of the few beer geeks (who also loves over the top hoppy ipa's) who doesn't prefer Prima Pils when it comes to lager - after one, I'm looking for something else.

                                                                                                              11 Replies
                                                                                                              1. re: LStaff

                                                                                                                I thought I read that Spaten will be brewed in the U.S., but can't find the information, so not sure if I'm just hallucinating.

                                                                                                                1. re: Jim Dorsch

                                                                                                                  I may be a little behind, but I just found out that Beck's in brewed in the USA. Guess you can't get German Beck's which I enjoyed occasionally in cans because the bottles were usually skunked.

                                                                                                                  1. re: hotdoglover

                                                                                                                    You may still be able to find some German made Beck's lingering on the shelves here and there.

                                                                                                                    I started drinking Beck's back in the 80's when there wasn't as much knowledge about skunky beer and it was just assumed that it was the signature flavor of imported beer. Every once in a blue moon I would come across a bomber that wasn't skunky and thought it was inferior in taste. Funny how you start to prefer the things you are used to experiencing. Every once in a while I will set some St. Pauli Girl out in the sun for nostalgias sake.

                                                                                                                  2. re: Jim Dorsch

                                                                                                                    NOOOOoooooooooooo!

                                                                                                                    Are you thinking of Beck's now brewed in St. Louis, MO ? please?

                                                                                                                    I found the Beck's packaging changes hilarious. It used to say IMPORTED GERMANY towards the bottom of the 6 and 12 packs, now it says GERMAN QUALITY in the same font.

                                                                                                                    1. re: LStaff

                                                                                                                      I like the label itself where it reads:

                                                                                                                      "Brauerei Beck's & Co. - Originated in Bremen, Germany"

                                                                                                                      A bit more 'subtle' than A-B's new Bass label, which proclaims:

                                                                                                                      "Brewed by William Bass & Co's Baldwinsville, NY"

                                                                                                                      With the switch to Beck's being brewed in the US, that makes the for-export St. Pauli Girl brand the largest German import. AB-InBev recently announced they would become the importer for St. Pauli Girl- the first time that Beck's and St. Pauli Girl have been imported by the same US company, even though both are (well, were...) brewed at Beck's brewery in Bremen. Coincidentally, the previous US importer had been Crown, the US Corona importer.

                                                                                                                      Moving Spaten to the US would be a surprise (but there have been a lot of surprises in the world of international brewing the last few years). Spaten is the only AB-InBev associated brand that isn't imported by AB's US import division, Import Brands Alliance, (that I can think of). It still has it's own separate import division, Spaten North America, Little Neck, NY.

                                                                                                                      1. re: JessKidden

                                                                                                                        Get a Bitburger Pils still exported with the German Purity law in the brewing. Forget the Becks and St Paulis, they are hyped but are not (I do not think) the same products as available in Germany. They contain rice and corn (I believe).

                                                                                                                        1. re: Smitty150

                                                                                                                          > "They contain rice and corn (I believe)."

                                                                                                                          So, you're saying you believe that even though the brands' US brewer/importer currently claim the opposite?

                                                                                                                          “(Beck’s) Brewed in accordance with the “Reinheitsgebot,” the German Purity Law of 1516…” http://anheuser-busch.com/s/index.php...

                                                                                                                          “In fact, St. Pauli Girl is brewed according to an ancient food regulation still in force throughout Germany today... (t)he German Purity Law of 1516…”
                                                                                                                          http://www.stpauligirl.com/history.php

                                                                                                                          I think the big Euro lager brewers have proven that one can make a pretty mundane beer following the Reinheitsgebot, just as other breweries around the world have shown that excellent beers can be made using corn, rice and other adjuncts.

                                                                                                                          1. re: Smitty150

                                                                                                                            I used to be a big fan of Bitburger, but seems less flavorful these days. St. Pauli Girl is my go to when I can find 12 packs within 6 months of bottling/best buy date printed on the bottom of the package. IMO St. Pauli Girl is a better beer than Bitburger now.

                                                                                                                            1. re: LStaff

                                                                                                                              Go-to pilsner beer?!

                                                                                                                              1. re: LStaff

                                                                                                                                Has St. Pauli Girl improved that much? I just had Bitburger on tap and while I wouldnt call it exciting it did the job for a cold refreshing straight forward german lager. Could even still taste some noble hop though certainly not resoundingly. Ive always put St. Pauli Girl on the same level as a Moosehead or maybe a Heineken.

                                                                                                                                1. re: Insidious Rex

                                                                                                                                  Improved? not sure - has been the same for the last 3 years or so I've been drinking it. Freshness is key with SPG - around the 6 month mark, it starts to develop cardboard like flavors. Haven't had a moosehead in years (I was tempted to pick up a 12 pack today though), but SPG has more malt and hop depth and flavor than Heineken for sure.

                                                                                                                    2. Let me suggest Trumer Pils brewed in Berkeley, California. Quite a good pils, indeed, if you can find it where you are.

                                                                                                                      12 Replies
                                                                                                                      1. re: Tripeler

                                                                                                                        Bitburger from Germany. Beck and Saint Pauli and those others aren't very good. Trumer is OK but more of a Helles.

                                                                                                                        1. re: Smitty150

                                                                                                                          What makes Trumer closer to a Helles and less of a pilsner to you? Thanks

                                                                                                                          1. re: Chinon00

                                                                                                                            I expect sharp hops in N. Germany and a bit less so in the South. I don't know what Trumer has for IBUs - think I will look.

                                                                                                                            Trumer has 26 and Bitburger which is "ordinary" has 38.

                                                                                                                            Jever is 45 and darned tasty.

                                                                                                                            1. re: Smitty150

                                                                                                                              Trumer uses Saaz and Austrian hops.
                                                                                                                              I like it because in the Bay Area, I don't have to worry about freshness the way I do with imports. It's pretty much my go-to pils, especially during the summer. Scrimshaw from North Coast is decent also.

                                                                                                                              1. re: chuckl

                                                                                                                                Fresh Trumer Pils is making me feel very spoiled.

                                                                                                                                1. re: Josh

                                                                                                                                  Glad you discovered Trumer with your recent move north. I am certain you know about the Russian River line of great beers, which are quite worthy. Also of note are the beers of Moonlight Brewing in Sonoma -- great stuff.

                                                                                                                                  1. re: Tripeler

                                                                                                                                    Russian River's long been my favorite brewery. We just went there over the weekend, in fact, and tried a fantastic new Belgian sour from them called Compunction. It's made with pluots and is ridiculously good.

                                                                                                                                    1. re: Josh

                                                                                                                                      Agree about Compunction, its a lovely ale. Beatification is also one of my favs, along with Temptation.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: chuckl

                                                                                                                                        Yes, the brewer Vinnie is a true beer genius. But I have to say that with some of the beers I really don't get it, but with others the brilliance comes through quite clearly. The Russian River lineup is truly a diverse and exciting collection that people in the area are lucky to have.

                                                                                                                                      2. re: Josh

                                                                                                                                        Is Compunction going to be released to the public or is it just at the brewery? RR's sours are some of my favorites and pluots are one of my favorite fruits

                                                                                                                                        1. re: MVNYC

                                                                                                                                          I'd guess brewery only. I hope that changes, for both of our sakes, :-)

                                                                                                                                    2. re: Josh

                                                                                                                                      Had the opportunity to try some Trumer Pils recently...and I couldn't agree with you more. Really great stuff.

                                                                                                                          2. It's a dunkle, but I was really impressed with the Spaten Dark I drank this weekend. I'll be buying more in the future.

                                                                                                                            1. I'm surprised that people find pilsners 'uninteresting'. I really enjoy the following; Czechvar, Schonramer,Trumer, and my hometown product,Sudwerk. The all have their own particular characteristics. Another beer I've had in Canada and Croatia is Ozyusko from Croatia. And there's also Niksicko from Bosnia-Hrzegovina- all fine example of pilsner brewnig

                                                                                                                              2 Replies
                                                                                                                              1. re: mazga

                                                                                                                                I would call pilsner a 'subdued' style. I have found very interesting subtlety in pilsners from Trumer and Victoria, but I could see how someone used to bolder flavours of imperial something would feel left hanging a bit. So I'd guess the issue is just that some people don't know what to expect, just as you'd be put off by a sour beer that you didn't know to be so.

                                                                                                                                Also, I have a hard time finding some of those good European pilsners in California (although it hasn't been a priority of mine). So perhaps lack of access is another issue.

                                                                                                                                1. re: eethan

                                                                                                                                  This makes sense, and I expect a large proportion of beer enthusiasts totally overlook the style.

                                                                                                                              2. if you have great lakes brewing company available where you are, (its a cleveland company), try their dortmunder gold. its a (imo) great fairly easily accessible lager. i really enjoy it. although truthfully, i love nearly all the have to offer.