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PALE BITTER EUROPEAN BEER
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Overall Impression: A pale, dry, bitter German lager featuring a prominent hop aroma. Crisp, clean, and refreshing, showing a brilliant gold color with excellent head retention.
Aroma: Moderately to moderately-high flowery, spicy, or herbal hops. Low to medium grainy, sweet, or doughy malt character, often with a light honey and toasted cracker quality. Clean fermentation profile. The hops should be forward, but not totally dominate the malt in the balance.
Appearance: Straw to deep yellow, brilliant to very clear, with a creamy, long-lasting white head.
Flavor: Initial malt flavor quickly overcome with hop flavor and bitterness, leading into a dry, crisp finish. Malt and hop flavors similar to aroma (same descriptors and intensities). Medium to high bitterness, lingering into the aftertaste along with a touch of malt and hops. Clean fermentation profile. Minerally water can accentuate and lengthen the dry finish. Hops and malt can fade with age, but the beer should always have a bitter balance.
Mouthfeel: Medium-light body. Medium to high carbonation. Should not feel heavy. Not harsh, but may have a flinty, minerally, sharpness in some examples.
Comments: Modern examples of Pils tend to become paler in color, drier and sharper in finish, and more bitter moving from South to North in Germany, often mirroring increasing sulfates in the water. Pils found in Bavaria tend to be a bit softer in bitterness with more malt flavor and late hop character, yet still with sufficient hops and crispness of finish to differentiate itself from Munich Helles. The use of the term ‘Pils’ is more common in Germany than ‘Pilsner’ to differentiate it from the Czech style, and (some say) to show respect.
History: Adapted from Czech Pilsner to suit brewing conditions in Germany, particularly water with higher mineral content and domestic hop varieties. First brewed in Germany in the early 1870s. Became more popular after WWII as German brewing schools emphasized modern techniques. Along with its cousin Czech Pilsner, it is the ancestor of the most widely produced beer styles today.
Style Comparison: Lighter in body and color, drier, crisper, more fully attenuated, more lingering bitterness, and higher carbonation than a Czech Premium Pale Lager. More hop character, malt flavor, and bitterness than International Pale Lager. More hop character and bitterness with a drier, crisper finish than a Munich Helles; the Helles has more malt intensity, but of the same character as the German Pils.
Commercial Examples: ABK Pils Anno 1907, Jever Pilsener, König Pilsener, Paulaner Pils, Bierstadt Slow-Pour Pils, Rothaus Pils, Schönramer Pils, Trumer Pils