Defined: Bohemian Pilsner

Aroma: Rich with complex malt and a spicy, floral Saaz hop bouquet. Some pleasant, restrained diacetyl is acceptable, but need not be present. Otherwise clean, with no fruity esters.

Appearance: Very pale gold to deep burnished gold, brilliant to very clear, with a dense, long-lasting, creamy white head.

Flavor: Rich, complex maltiness combined with a pronounced yet soft and rounded bitterness and spicy flavor from Saaz hops.  Some diacetyl is acceptable, but need not be present. Bitterness is prominent but never harsh, and does not linger. The aftertaste is balanced between malt and hops. Clean, no fruity esters.

Mouthfeel: Medium-bodied (although diacetyl, if present, may make it seem medium-full), medium carbonation.

Overall Impression: Crisp, complex and well-rounded yet refreshing.

History: First brewed in 1842, this style was the original clear, light-colored beer.

Comments: Uses Moravian malted barley and a decoction mash for rich, malt character.  Saaz hops and low sulfate, low carbonate water provide a distinctively soft, rounded hop profile.  Traditional yeast sometimes can provide a background diacetyl note.  Dextrins provide additional body, and diacetyl enhances the perception of a fuller palate.

Ingredients: Soft water with low mineral content, Saaz hops, Moravian malted barley, Czech lager yeast.

Vital Statistics: OG:  1.044 – 1.056, IBUs:  35 – 45, FG:  1.013 – 1.017, SRM:  3.5 – 6, ABV:  4.2 – 5.4%

Commercial Examples: Pilsner Urquell, Krušovice Imperial 12°, Budweiser Budvar (Czechvar in the US), Czech Rebel, Staropramen, Gambrinus Pilsner, Zlaty Bazant Golden Pheasant, Dock Street Bohemian Pilsner

** Courtesy of the Beer Judge Certification Program Style Guidelines 2008 (


2 Responses to Defined: Bohemian Pilsner

  1. On this subject…

    Personally I find the Pilsner Urquell an extremely average beer. Nothing worth mentioning more than once, and sadly one that doesn’t fit well into the craft beer realm. Not from a beer snob point of view, just in general.

    If I recall correctly however, the Dock Street Bohemian Pilsner was actually not all that bad for the style that it is.


    • When it comes down to it, Pilsner as a style is relatively plain and generic. The Urquell certainly has lost the luster that it once had – however I still consider it a reasonable old world pilsner. Where’s Doc Street from?

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