Summer is nearly here, and with summer comes warm weather, baseball games on TV, and of course, summer beer styles. Among the many traditional summer styles, I have to say that Pilsner is one of my favorites. And when I say Pilsner, I’m not talking about Bud Light Lime or Miller Chill. I’m talking about a true Pilsner beer — a light, refreshing lager with that defining strong hop presence and distinct crisp malt profile, bred from the rolling hop fields of Central Europe.
The Pilsner style originates in the modern-day Czech city of Pilsen, and it became one of the most popular beer styles in the world after its introduction in the 1840s. Pilsners are typically brewed with very light barley malts and copious amounts of traditional European hops. It’s interesting to note that many of the more popular modern American light lagers (e.g., Budweiser) are imitations of this noble style.
Despite its simplicity, brewers often struggle with this style because its delicate flavor profile leaves little room for off-flavors. A well-brewed, traditional Pilsner beer is hard to come by, and a good commercial example is certainly a thing to behold. Fortunately, our neighbors at Troegs Brewing Co. in Hershey, Pa., have valiantly offered their take on this summertime classic.
Troegs was founded in 1997 by brothers Chris and John Trogner, and thanks to their mastery of the brewing art and business acumen, it has become one of the most respected craft breweries in Pennsylvania. Some of their other celebrated beers include their Nugget Nectar imperial amber ale and their Dreamweaver wheat. The Sunshine Pils is one of their seasonal offerings, available from April through August. I picked up a six-pack, bottled March 28, at my local bottle shop for $10.
I poured the beer from a 12-ounce bottle into a slender Pilsner glass, which revealed its bright, deep straw-yellow color. It poured slightly hazy, not as crystal clear as might be expected from a Pilsner. The white, crackly head quickly settled back into the beer. The beer looked and smelled inviting, with an intense sweet malt aroma complemented by wonderful flowery notes from the hops.
Man, this beer tastes good! It’s light bodied and well balanced with that clean, distinctive Pilsner taste. Plenty of hop bitterness is present, but it is not overpowering and is complemented by a unique, lingering, pleasant sweetness from the malt. Due to its light body and moderate carbonation, this beer goes down smooth and easy. Plus, at 4.5 percent ABV, it’s not inconceivable to knock out a sixer of these bad boys over the course of a summer afternoon in the hot sun. The complex flavors will satisfy any beer nerd, and the gentle, floral hop notes won’t scare off leery hop-fearers. This is truly a beer that everyone can enjoy.
This is a fine beer to have on hand when putting a shovel to the earth for a springtime project or simply sitting on your porch enjoying the warm weather. Troegs Sunshine Pils is definitely a refreshing, true Pilsner beer that makes the summer season that much more joyous.