German Pils is a light-bodied, bottom-fermented beer with a gold color and excellent head retention. It has a floral hop aroma and a crisp, clean, and refreshing taste that showcases the best quality German malt and hops.

The appearance of the beer is straw to light gold with a creamy, long-lasting white head that is brilliant and clear. The aroma has a medium-low to low grainy-sweet-rich malt character with a light honey and slightly toasted cracker quality. It also has a distinctive flowery, spicy, or herbal hop aroma, and a clean fermentation profile. A very light sulfury note may also be present, but it should not dominate the malt presence.

The flavor of German Pils has a medium to high hop bitterness that dominates the palate and lingers in the aftertaste. It has a moderate to moderately-low grainy-sweet malt character that supports the hop bitterness. The hop flavor can range from low to high floral, spicy, or herbal. The fermentation profile is clean, and the finish is dry to medium-dry with a bitter aftertaste and light malt flavor. Versions made with water with higher sulfate levels may have a low sulfury flavor that accentuates the dryness and lengthens the finish. Some versions have a soft finish with more malt flavor, but still with noticeable hop bitterness and flavor, with the balance still towards bitterness.

The mouthfeel is medium-light body with medium to high carbonation.

Modern versions of German Pils tend to become paler in color, drier in finish, and more bitter as you move from South to North in Germany, often mirroring the increase in sulfate in the water. Bavarian Pils tends to be a bit softer in bitterness with more malt flavor and late hop character, yet still with sufficient hops and crispness of finish to differentiate itself from a Helles.

German Pils was adapted from Czech Pilsner to suit brewing conditions in Germany, particularly water with higher mineral content and domestic hop varieties. It was first brewed in Germany in the early 1870s and became more popular after WWII as German brewing schools emphasized modern techniques. Along with Czech Pilsner, it is the ancestor of the most widely produced beer styles today.

The characteristic ingredients used in making German Pils include Continental Pilsner malt, German hop varieties (especially Saazer-type varieties such as Tettnanger, Hallertauer, and Spalt for taste and aroma; Saaz is less common), and German lager yeast.

Compared to other beer styles, German Pils is lighter in body and color, drier, crisper, and more fully attenuated, with more of a lingering bitterness, and with higher carbonation than a Czech Premium Pale Lager. It has more hop character, malt flavor, and bitterness than International Pale Lagers. It also has more hop character and bitterness with a drier, crisper finish than a Munich Helles, which has more malt flavor, but of the same character as the Pils. In Germany, the term ‘Pils’ is more commonly used than ‘Pilsner’ to differentiate it from the Czech style and to show respect.