You see them everywhere! Passed over by the wandering eyes of craft beer enthusiasts looking for that fresh Hazy IPA drop or perhaps, for this time of year, that beast of a Barrel-Aged Stout. Often times they are even relegated next to the dare we say it, American domestics! Of course, we’re talking about the craft Pilsner. A truly underrated style of beer.
Thankfully though, the Pilsner isn’t going anywhere. Sure, it might not be the most popular style in the market, but what it lacks in marketability makes up for in drinkability. That’s right, drinkability over marketability any day!
One such Pilsner that has tremendous drinkability is Pils, a German-Style Pilsner from Portland, OR based Von Ebert Brewing. Not only does it have the taste, but it also has the hardware to back it up.
Pils is a highly decorated three-time medal winner. It won Silver at the Great American Beer Festival in 2022 in the German-Style Pilsener category, and also Silver in the same year at the North American Beer Awards/International Beer Awards in the German-Style Pilsner category. Von Ebert followed up the two silver awards by winning Gold at the 2023 World Beer Cup in the German-Style Pilsener category.
We were able to speak with Sam Pecoraro, the Brewmaster for Von Ebert Brewing, on the success of PIls. Sam had the following to say about the medals and the process.
“From the first day we opened, we’ve put a ton of focus into German-inspired Lagers and various takes on IPA,” said Sam. Von Ebert gained early recognition for IPA after winning Bronze and Gold medals in American IPA at GABF in 2021 and 2022.
“That sort of typecast us as an IPA brewery, even though our energies leaned just as heavily into German-inspired Lager,” said Sam. “So, winning Silver at GABF and Gold at the World Beer Cup offered some correction to that imbalance, and I hope we’re seen now as a brewery that focuses on both, among other styles as well,” noted Sam.
Create concepts, not recipes
Sam was adamant in noting that “At Von Ebert, we don’t create recipes, we create concepts.” Creating concepts gives Von Ebert the latitude to make recipe changes to fit their concept. Rather than being tied to any type of raw material that’s subject to seasonality, aging, wide specifications and etc. “Pils has evolved from a complicated idea with three Pilsner malts, three hop varietals and a range of mineral profiles,” noted Sam.
“Everyone at Von Ebert has had some hand in coaxing it in one direction or another,” said Sam. In general, the recipe has evolved to 80% German Pilsner malt, 20% North American Pilsner malt. A heavy addition of Hallertau Mittlefruh at first wort and then midway through the first boil. “The concept has evolved as well, with higher bitterness and minerality to balance an increase in hop flavor and aroma,” noted Sam.
Intense, yet balanced
Sam notes that when drinking Pils, look for balanced intensity. The minerality, hop flavor, aroma, bitterness and dryness are all intense. “If there weren’t so many intense elements, they’d be out of balance,” said Sam.
“Next, you should look for drinkability, the beer is designed to be gone before you realize it and if you find yourself laboring through a glass of Von Ebert Pils, we haven’t done our job properly.”
This goes back to the DOM, drinkability over marketability. If Von Ebert created this beer to be gone before you realize it, then they have accomplished what they set out to do.
It’s crispy, it’s clean, it’s a bit hoppy, and somewhat bitter. It has superior drinkability that’s accompanied by a band of different tasting notes. We could say this beer is crushable, but that’s not doing Pils any justice. Instead, we will say it’s dangerously drinkable. You still want to enjoy what you’re experiencing with a Pilsner of this quality.
Even better beer
One thing that Sam said that struck a chord with us was a statement about the team they have at Von Ebert and their commitment to providing the best beer experience.
“We have an incredibly talented team here at Von Ebert. We’re intensely committed to a continuous improvement ethos and having a buy-in from everyone and that is really the key to our beer quality,” said Sam. “If we win Gold at a big competition, we’ll sit down and think about how we could have made a better beer than we entered.”
It would be easy for Von Ebert to put it on cruise control with the success of Pils. Multiple medals won, yet they still want to make Pils, and the other beers in their lineup even better. That’s great dedication to their team and their craft, and something we can get behind!