Best Yeast for Brewing Pilsner Beers (Ideal Flavor for the Style)

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. 

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.

Ester profile

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. 

Krausen

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.

Fermentation time

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.

Attenuation

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.

Flocculation

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:

  1. Get a beer that has active yeast in it – a bottle-conditioned beer will likely do.
  2. Sanitize your container that you’ll use to store the yeast solution in.
  3. Pour out leftover beer so that you’re left with a slurry of beer and yeast.
  4. Add distilled water to the slurry.
  5. Allow enough time to let the yeast separate from the mixture.
  6. Pour mixture out and pour separated yeast into sanitized container(s). Store in the fridge.
Watch this video from Clawhammer Supply for a great example of how to properly harvest yeast cultures.

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.

YeastFermentation temperatureAttenuationFlocculation
IDEAL48-58℉71-76%
(medium-high)
Medium
Imperial Harvest50-60℉70-74%Medium
Imperial Urkel52-58℉71-75%Medium
Omega American Lager48-58℉73-77%Medium
Omega American Pilsner48-56℉71-75%Medium
Omega Bayern Lager51-62℉72-76%Medium
Omega German Lager45-68℉73-77%Medium-low
Omega Lager I48-56℉71-75%Medium-high
Omega Pilsner I48-56℉72-76%Medium-high
Omega Pilsner II50-58℉70-74%Medium-high
White Labs Charlie's Fist Bump55-74℉72-78%Low
White Labs Czech Budejovice Lager50-55℉70-75%Medium
White Labs German Lager50-55℉74-79%Medium
White Labs Pilsner Lager50-55℉72-77%Medium to high
White Labs San Francisco Lager58-65℉70-75%High
Wyeast American Lager48-58℉73-77%Medium
Wyeast Bohemian Lager45-68℉73-77%Low medium
Wyeast Czech Pils50-58℉70-74%Medium high
Wyeast European Lager46-56℉73-77%Low
Wyeast Pilsner Urquell H-Strain48-56℉72-76%Medium high

Wyeast

Wyeast has quite a few liquid yeast strains that can be used for pilsners, including:

Czech Pils

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℉.

Bohemian Lager

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℉.

European Lager

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℉.

American Lager

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

White Labs has many different yeast strains for the pilsner style, including:

Pilsner Lager

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.

German Lager

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 Organic

Imperial Yeast provides organic yeast strains from Portland, Oregon. Its yeast strains suitable for pilsners include L17 Harvest and L28 Urkel.

Harvest

Low sulfur and low diacetyl. Ferments cleanly to create crisp and dry pilsners. Ferment between 50-60℉.

Urkel

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

Omega yeast has a number of pilsner yeast strains, including:

Pilsner 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℉.

Pilsner II 

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.

American Pilsner 

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.

American Lager

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.

Bayern Lager 

Bavarian origin. Clean and crisp with a dry finish and high malt sweetness. Produces sweet and refreshing pilsners. Ferment between 51-62℉.

Lager I 

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.

YeastFermentation temperatureAttenuationFlocculation
IDEAL63-63℉73-83%
(high)
Medium-high
SafLager W-34/7053-64℉80-84%n/a
SafLager S-18954-64℉80-84%n/a
SafLager S-2353-64℉80-84%n/a
CellarScience German Dry Lager54-62℉n/aHigh
CellarScience Berlin Dry Lager54-62℉n/aHigh
LalBrew Diamond50-59℉HighHigh
Dried Lutra Kveik68-95℉75-82%Medium-high

Fermentis SafLager

Fermentis’ SafAle offers three great yeast strains for pilsners:

SafLager W-34/70

From Weihenstephen, Germany. Floral and fruity notes with a clean and crisp mouthfeel. The fermentation temperature range is 53-64℉.

SafLager S-189

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℉.

SafLager S-23

Promotes a fruity aroma with low fruit esters. Creates a long finish. The fermentation temperature range is 53-64℉.

CellarScience

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℉.

Lalleman

Lallemand Brewing’s LalBrew Diamond is a great dry yeast strain for brewing any kind of pilsner or lager.

LalBrew Diamond

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

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.

Most Recommended!
Start Homebrewing DELICIOUS Beer!

Everything you need to brew 5 gallons of beer at home including full step-by-step instructions!

Buy Now On Amazon Buy Now On Morebeer.com
We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.