The crisp, quaffable lager called pilsner created a splash in Bohemia in 1842, as these versions still do today
A likeable and serviceable pils with crisp flavors and a slightly oily texture. It’s not the deepest brew I’ve tasted, but this style is about refreshment, not existential philosophy, so kick the Kierkegaard and just enjoy. KONIG USA
Crisp as the Sonoma fog, this edgy American pilsner out of Petaluma, California, has teeth-clenching hopsiness and a peppery, almost sneezy attack on the palate. It cuts through barbecued ribs like a Black & Decker through balsa, so stock up for backyard grilling season.
More brassy than bronzy in color, but showing riveting reflections of beaten gold when held up against the light. The flavors don’t come right out the door and greet you as they do in more blowsy beers; instead they play hide-and-seek in the chiaroscuro of this Czech classic, the original beer from Pilsen. SABMILLER
From Radeberg, just outside Dresden. The nose is a bit shy, but the palate suddenly reveals cleanly-delineated flavors with playful notes of coal smoke. As modern as a steamship when it was born in 1872, this was the first German-brewed pilsner. Today, it’s charmingly and unapologetically old-fashioned, and you’ll love it that way. BINDING BRÄUEREI USA
The classic pilsner nose is overlaid with a gentle grind of white pepper and a whiff of catnip. On the palate, this Bavarian bombshell explodes into a gorgeously orchestrated rainbow of flavors with predominant persimmon, feisty hops and even a farflung touch of good Barbados rum. One of the best beers ever to cross this well-traveled palate. UPLIFTERS SPIRITS
Extremely clean nose of freshly laundered linens air-dried in an Alpine breeze. The incisive, clean-as-a-whistle flavors get right down to business on the palate with thirst-quenching efficacy and layered tones of apple, pear, quince and rosewater, all backed by a bracingly bitter finish that’s as sharp as a barley sickle. Exemplary. SPATEN NORTH AMERICA
Aggressive hopping is a popular trademark of West Coast craftbrews, and it’s also a given that beverage trends track West to East. So it stands to reason that for the past decade, the signature taste of highly hopped West Coast ales has been infiltrating the Southeast like a plague of boll weevils, thanks to the efforts of Atlanta’s SweetWater Brewing and its partners, Freddy Bensch and Kevin McNerney.
It seems that Southerners can’t get enough of SweetWater’s tangy pale ale and revved-up IPA. Coming off impressive growth over the past few years, SweetWater has just invested $1 million in infrastructure development. In March, the brewery installed eight new 400-barrel fermentation tanks to increase its capacity from 49,000 to 100,000 barrels. The project guarantees that SweetWater will be able to meet the growing demand for this style of beer in Georgia, South Carolina, Tennessee, Alabama and Florida, while continuing to be a hands-on microbrewery.
In the past year, SweetWater’s shipments to wholesalers increased by 37 percent, a rate that outpaces the craft brewing segment and the beer category as a whole. The lineup includes Atlanta cult favorite SweetWater 420 Extra Pale, dry-hopped SweetWater IPA, blueberry-flavored SweetWater Blue, nutty Georgia Brown and a Belgian-style white ale called Hummer that will wash down cornpone like nobody’s business. In addition, there are two seasonals: wintery Festive Ale and summery Road Trip, a pilsner with added ale yeasts.
SweetWater also promotes environmental causes by hosting an annual Earth Day festival, campaigning for the Upper Chattahoochee Riverkeeper, Earth Share of Georgia, Georgia ForestWatch and others.