According to the BJCP Style Guidelines here are the difference between a Czech Pilsners vs a German Pilsner:
German – has a more grainy, grassy smell; the color tends to be slightly lighter; because of the hard water they use you get a more crisp, long lasting bitter taste; the mouthfeel is lighter; and there tends to be slightly more carbonation.
Czech – most Czech pilsners use Saaz hops which brings out earthy, herbal and pepper/spicy aroma; There is more of a malt presence which makes the beer a bit darker and less bitterness as the hops are balanced with the malt; lastly, the water they use is soft giving the beer more heavier weight and lower in carbonation.
Since I’m don’t know much about Pilsners I decided to do a tasting and see if the 4 beers I tried (2 german pilsners and 2 Czech Pilsners) were true to style. In addition I had some cheese in my house so I did a cheese pairing too.
Warsteiner and Bitburger Pilsners (German) vs Staropramen and Pilsner Urquell (Czech)
Tasting notes for the German Pilsners
Warsteiner Premium Verum (4.8%)
Appearance: Straw color, big white 2 finger head.
Aroma: Grain, slight grassy, and bread…very faint.
Taste: Bitter hops up front then the malt sweetness kicks in.
Mouthfeel: Light body, low-medium carbonation
Finish: Crisp and quick dry finish.
Bitburger Premium Pils (4.8%)
Appearance: Clear golden/straw color with visible carbonation and a big frothy head.
Aroma: Yeast, Earthy, hay, and light floral hops.
Taste: malt sweetness and grain flavors, floral and spicy.
Mouthfeel: Soft and creamy, medium carbonation and body.
Finish: Crisp finish
Bitburger and Staropramen Pilsners paired with a Monterey Pepper Jack Cheese: Highlights the pepper again and makes it less sweet.
Bitburger and Staropramen Pilsners paired with a 3 yr old Cheddar: Not a great pairing both were contrasting.
Tasting notes for the Czech Pilsners
Staropramen Pilsner (5%)
Appearance: Medium golden, small white head.
Aroma: Grain, some caramel, some grassy notes.
Taste: Hop bitterness up front then sweet malts take over leaving some hops.
Mouthfeel: Medium, slightly creamy body, medium carbonation
Finish: Longer finish, with slight coating on the mouth.
Stropramen paired with a Monterey Pepper Jack : brings out the spicy notes in the beer making the beer less balanced.
Stropramen paired with a 3 yr old Cheddar: brought out some bitter tones. This was an excellent pairing.
Pilsner Urquell (4.4%)
Appearance: Pale gold with a big head that dissipates quickly to a small layer of foam.
Aroma: Grassy, some biscuit and Floral/herbal notes.
Taste: Some hop bitterness – floral, spicy, grassiness as well as a malty balance.
Mouthfeel: medium and slightly creamy and creamy. Medium Carbonation
Finish: Clean crisp finish.
Pilsner Urquell paired with a Monterey Pepper Jack: The Pepper cuts through the creaminess and the malt sweetness. Good pairing it cut the sweetness and left the spicyness on your palate thus bringing it out of the beer.
Pilsner Urquell paired with a 3 yr old Cheddar: This made the beer less bitter and more sweet. Not a huge fan of this pairing.
All were true to style except when compared, both Czech Pilsners seem to be more carbonated (though the German pilsner is known to have more carbonation). On a side note I was surprised that the Warsteiner was sweeter than I expected a German pilsner to be.
I need a blind tasting with a friend of mine and my husband – Both thought the German Pilsner was the Czech and the Czech was a German Pilsner. We all liked the Czech beer over the German Pilsner more because of the heavier body and less hop bitterness/harshness.