Pilsner is perhaps the most popular style of beer, thus making it the most ‘controversial’. Invented in Bohemia, now part of the Czech Republic, and perfected in Germany, Pilsner has gone on to become mass-marketed and ‘flavourless water’ in North America – according to beer aficionados. And perhaps they’re right. Genuine Pilsner is sharp and flavourful with a prickly bitterness and a clean, dry finish. Whereas international Pilsner has become reduced to what will sell the most.
Examples of International Pilsner
Heineken, Stella Artois, Sapporo, Tsing-Tao, Kingfisher, and Carlsberg are perhaps some of the better known international pilsners you can find. They are brewed internationally, so if you live in America, your Stella Artois probably isn’t what is being delivered from Belgium. They’re not bad beers, and they are incredibly consistent, but you can also argue they’re not ‘authentic Pilsner’.
If you want an authentic Pilsner, seek out a local craft brewery, or visit the import section of your local beer store and grab a bottle of Czech Budweiser Budvar. (and for fun, grab a tallboy of the American version to discover the difference).
If you’re content with your generic Pilsner, there is no shame in that, but for sake of pairing, we’ll mostly be talking about the authentic stuff. Generic Pilsners tend to be bland and don’t have the same gusto craft beer or traditional Pilsners do..
Genuine Pilsner with Food
Pilsner lacks fruity, roasted and caramelized flavours of other beers we have been discussing. Instead, what Pilsner brings is an electric bitterness and sweet malt flavours to the table. This makes Pilsner excellent with spicy dishes as the bitterness will cut through the sharpness of the spices while the sweet malt flavours take the heat out of the fire. This makes Pilsner excellent with many Thai, Indian, and Vietnamese dishes, as well as Jamaican dishes like jerk chicken.
Tex Mex food and Pilsner
North American Mexican food has a liking for heat, in part due to our love of salsa and hot peppers. The bitter hops can cut through salsa, beans, rich cheeses, guacamole, and sour cream with ease. Meanwhile, the sweet malty flavours mingle with any grilled beef, pork, chicken and fish flavours effortlessly. Speaking of heat, Pilsner will go great with those spicy buffalo chicken wings.
Pilsner and Seafood Pairings
If you are a lover of Seafood, Pilsner is terrific with fried calamari, lobster, crab, clams, shrimp, oysters and scallops as it is a delicate beer that can bring out their best flavours. This is a great beer to pair up with shrimp with cocktail sauce.
Even strong fish, like Salmon, sardines, mackerel, herring and anchovies will pair well with this beer as the hoppy bitterness can cut stand up to their unique flavours. With all that said, Pilsner is not a great pairing with delicate fish, like sole.
Pilsner and Ham
Another excellent pairing is Pilsner and Ham, as well as Prosciutto as this beer really knows how to cut through the fat. This makes Pilsner an excellent accompaniment to Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas where Ham is served. If you want a weekend treat, a grilled cheese and ham sandwich paired with an authentic Pilsner will have you wanting more. Pilsner is also amazing with all types of sausage, especially the spicy variety like chorizo and andouille.
Nothing can go wrong when you are on the Pils?
We’re making Pilsner seem like it would pair up with everything, and well, while it can do most things, it does not make a lovely pairing with delicate fish, or hearty meats. So this isn’t the best beer to pair sole or hearty beef stew.
Do you have a favourite Pilsner and Food Pairing? Let us know in the comments below!
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