Pilsners require specific yeast strains. It’s possible to use liquid or dry, but which should you use? What’s the best yeast to brew a pilsner with? What characteristics should your yeast contain?
The best yeast for brewing pilsner beers has a 48-58℉ temperature range, medium-high attenuation, and medium flocculation. It will promote a subtle sulfur taste, but diacetyl should not be present. The ideal yeast strain will promote complex and balanced notes; the most popular yeast strains are WY2001-PC and SafLager W-34/70.
Keep reading for more information about choosing the right yeast for a pilsner beer, including the best liquid and dry yeast strains.
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How to choose the right yeast for Pilsners
Pilsners are a clean and crisp beer with a wonderful balance between hop and malt flavor and aroma. They contain floral and spicy notes with subtle hints of fruit or citrus. They’re a clear golden often with a dry finish.
What does the ideal yeast strain look like for a pilsner? The things we need to consider when picking a yeast strain are ester profile, fermentation time, and flocculation amongst other things.
To choose the right yeast for a pilsner, pick one with no ester or diacetyl profile, a high attenuation, long fermentation time, and medium flocculation. The ideal yeast strain will promote complex and balanced crisp flavors.
Continue on for more information on individual yeast characteristics for pilsner beers, as well as some of the best strains to use.
Pilsners and lagers get their aroma from the malt and hops used.
Pilsners should have no fruity esters from the yeast strain used.
Pilsners should not have diacetyl present, either. They can and often do, however, have notes of sulfur.
As lagers are bottom-fermenting beers, pilsners generally don’t have a lot of krausen.
Pilsner and lager yeast does not create a lot of krausen compared to ales. You should leave some headspace for your yeast to ferment, but not that much.
Pilsners are bottom-fermenting, which means that krausen might take longer to form and it will be a thin layer.
Pilsners and other lagers require a long fermentation time.
Pilsners require a cold fermentation for 2-4 weeks. This allows for fermentation to finish and will likely be long enough for a diacetyl rest.
Pilsners get a lot of their taste from the yeast attenuation.
Pilsners require a yeast with medium to high attenuation to create a balanced taste between sweet and dry.
Generally, pilsners are bright and clear with no yeast suspension.
Use a medium-highly flocculent yeast strain for a pilsner to create a bright and clean-looking beer.
Can you make a pilsner with ale yeast?
Is it possible to make a lagered pilsner with an ale yeast?
You can brew a pilsner with ale yeast. Choose a yeast strain with similar characteristics to a lager strain that also promotes desirable characteristics in a pilsner, including a low ester profile.
Harvesting commercial yeast from craft Pilsner beers
Harvesting yeast from beer is a practical and easy way to recreate beers, save money, or just experiment.
Here’s how to harvest yeast from a beer:
- Get a beer that has active yeast in it – a bottle-conditioned beer will likely do.
- Sanitize your container that you’ll use to store the yeast solution in.
- Pour out leftover beer so that you’re left with a slurry of beer and yeast.
- Add distilled water to the slurry.
- Allow enough time to let the yeast separate from the mixture.
- Pour mixture out and pour separated yeast into sanitized container(s). Store in the fridge.
The best liquid yeast strains for brewing a Pilsner beer
There are a plethora of liquid yeast strains to choose from – far more than dry yeast strains. Liquid yeast strains are more expensive and don’t last as long, though.
The best liquid yeast strain for pilsners will have a fermentation temperature range of 48-58℉, medium-high attenuation, and medium flocculation. Liquid yeast is more expensive, but you have many more options compared to dry yeast. Liquid strains don’t last long, either. It comes down to cost, amount, availability, and personal preference.
I’ve created a list of some of the best pilsner liquid yeast strains from the top manufacturers, as well as notes for each strain.
|Omega American Lager||48-58℉||73-77%||Medium|
|Omega American Pilsner||48-56℉||71-75%||Medium|
|Omega Bayern Lager||51-62℉||72-76%||Medium|
|Omega German Lager||45-68℉||73-77%||Medium-low|
|Omega Lager I||48-56℉||71-75%||Medium-high|
|Omega Pilsner I||48-56℉||72-76%||Medium-high|
|Omega Pilsner II||50-58℉||70-74%||Medium-high|
|White Labs Charlie's Fist Bump||55-74℉||72-78%||Low|
|White Labs Czech Budejovice Lager||50-55℉||70-75%||Medium|
|White Labs German Lager||50-55℉||74-79%||Medium|
|White Labs Pilsner Lager||50-55℉||72-77%||Medium to high|
|White Labs San Francisco Lager||58-65℉||70-75%||High|
|Wyeast American Lager||48-58℉||73-77%||Medium|
|Wyeast Bohemian Lager||45-68℉||73-77%||Low medium|
|Wyeast Czech Pils||50-58℉||70-74%||Medium high|
|Wyeast European Lager||46-56℉||73-77%||Low|
|Wyeast Pilsner Urquell H-Strain||48-56℉||72-76%||Medium high|
Wyeast has quite a few liquid yeast strains that can be used for pilsners, including:
- WY2278 Czech Pils
- WY2124 Bohemian Lager
- WY2247-PC European Lager
- WY2035-PC American Lager
- WY2001-PC Pilsner Urquell H-Strain
Medium-high flocculation with a dry and malty finish, traditional of classic Czech pilsners. Highlights floral hop notes in this style. Ferments between 50-58℉.
Versatile strain for pilsners and other lagers. Produces malty flavors that are prevalent in the style. Creates a crisp finish. A diacetyl rest is recommended. Low medium flocculation, ferments between 45-68℉.
Lets the noble hops used in pilsners shine. Creates a clean and crisp taste. Sulfur taste is present. High attenuation results in a crisp, dry, and refreshing finish. The fermentation range is 46-56℉.
Used in a variety of lagers, including pilsners. Highly aromatic. Finishes crisp and dry. Ferments between 48-58℉.
Pilsner Urquell H-Strain
Fruit and floral aromas are present with this strain. Creates a full mouthfeel with a very dry palate and malty profile. Very versatile. The fermentation temperature range is 48-56℉.
White Labs has many different yeast strains for the pilsner style, including:
- WLP800 Pilsner Lager
- WLP802 Czech Budejovice Lager
- WLP810 San Francisco Lager
- WLP830 German Lager
- WLP1983 Charlie’s Fist Bump
Creates a clean and crisp brew. Versatile and can be used in other styles. Results in a somewhat dry and malty finish. Ferment between 50-55℉.
Czech Budejovice Lager
From southern Czech Republic. Ends with a dry and crisp pilsner. Accentuates hop bitterness and enhances herbal and floral notes. Low diacetyl. The fermentation temperature range is 50-55℉.
San Francisco Lager
Higher fermentation temperatures compared to other lager yeast strains with a range of 58-65℉. Ferment at lower temperatures for the pilsner style. Enables floral taste with a malty and crisp finish.
Widely popular lager strain. Creates clean and crisp brews. It enables hop aroma and bitterness. Ferments between 50-55℉.
Charlie’s Fist Bump
Can be used for lagers and ales. Can be fermented at lower temps to create malty sweetness and a dry finish. For a pilsner, ferment between 55-60℉.
Imperial Yeast provides organic yeast strains from Portland, Oregon. Its yeast strains suitable for pilsners include L17 Harvest and L28 Urkel.
Low sulfur and low diacetyl. Ferments cleanly to create crisp and dry pilsners. Ferment between 50-60℉.
Enables the balance between hops and malt that is characteristic of pilsners. Ferment at lower temperatures to enable sulfur and deny ester formation. The temperate range is 52-58℉.
Omega yeast has a number of pilsner yeast strains, including:
- OYL-101 Pilsner I
- OYL-108 Pilsner II
- OYL-102 American Pilsner
- OYL-103 American Lager
- OYL-106 German Lager I
- OYL-114 Bayern Lager
- OYL-100 Lager I
Dry, malty, and subtly floral. Perfect for the pilsner style. Diacetyl rest may be needed. Sulfur is present but lagered out. Ferment between 48-56℉.
Very similar to Pilsner I. Higher temperature range of 50-58℉. Dry and malty taste with a crisp finish. Less floral than the Pilsner I.
Slight apple notes on the nose and at the beginning of the taste. Dry and clean with healthy malt characteristics. Ferment between 48-56℉.
This is the strain presumed to be used in Bud Light.
Medium flocculation and complex flavors. Dry finish. Presumably from August Schell Brewing Company. The fermentation range is 48-58℉.
German Lager I
Versatile strain with a fermentation range of 45-68℉. Creates a more crisp pilsner. Malty taste with a low ester profile.
Bavarian origin. Clean and crisp with a dry finish and high malt sweetness. Produces sweet and refreshing pilsners. Ferment between 51-62℉.
Great for light lagers like a pilsner. Creates a nicely blanched beer with well-rounded malt sweetness and crispness. Subtle fruity notes. Ferment between 48-56℉.
The best dry yeast strains for brewing a Pilsner beer
Dry yeast strains pose some pros and cons of their own. Mainly, there aren’t nearly as many as there are liquid yeast strains.
Dry yeast strains last longer than liquid yeast strains, and cheaper. The biggest restriction is that there is a very limited selection of dry strains. The best dry yeast strains for pilsners have similar characteristics to liquid strains: a fermentation temperature range of 53-63℉, high attenuation, and medium-high flocculation.
Here is a collection of some of the best dry yeast strains for pilsners on the market.
|CellarScience German Dry Lager||54-62℉||n/a||High|
|CellarScience Berlin Dry Lager||54-62℉||n/a||High|
|Dried Lutra Kveik||68-95℉||75-82%||Medium-high|
Fermentis’ SafAle offers three great yeast strains for pilsners:
From Weihenstephen, Germany. Floral and fruity notes with a clean and crisp mouthfeel. The fermentation temperature range is 53-64℉.
Offers floral and herbal notes that fit right into a pilsner beer. Low esters. Highly balanced, very clean, and full mouthfeel. Temperature range of 54-64℉.
Promotes a fruity aroma with low fruit esters. Creates a long finish. The fermentation temperature range is 53-64℉.
CellarScience has two dry yeast strains suitable for brewing pilsner beers: German Dry Lager Yeast and Berlin Dry Lager Yeast.
German Dry Lager Yeast
Creates wonderfully balanced pilsners with complex aromas. Produces a clean and crisp finish. The temperature range is 54-62℉.
Berlin Dry Lager Yeast
More estery than its German counterpart. Creates a soft malt character and lets German noble hops shine. The temperature range is 54-62℉.
Lallemand Brewing’s LalBrew Diamond is a great dry yeast strain for brewing any kind of pilsner or lager.
A robust strain that will offer balance and complexity to a pilsner. Very subtle floral notes with both malt and hop accentuation. The fermentation range is from 50-59℉.
Omega’s Dried Lutra Kveik is one of the most versatile yeast strains on the market.
Dried Lutra Kviek
This strain’s massive temperature range of 68-95℉ makes it suitable for many different beers. It has mild fruity esters but is still equipped for brewing a complex yet balanced pilsner with a flavorful and sweeter finish.