I was wondering if there's a way to make American 2-row resemble the graininess of pilsner. I've taken 2-row and added some biscuit malt or pale ale malt to nudge my 2-row a bit closer to Marris Otter. Is there a similar trick to approximate pilsner?

2 Answers 2


The only real difference between pale and pils malt is about 1L of color. The flavor is actually pretty similar. The best thing to do is to experiment with different pale malts to see if on brand is closer to what you want. In terms of what you've got right now, an all pale malt mash will taste remarkably similar to an all pils malt mash. I've done the same beer with both and it's nearly impossible to tell the difference. Using specialty grains in either will hide any difference.

  • You get so many purists saying how night and day the difference is it's good to hear someone doing a side-by-side test. Most of the recipes I see using Pilsner also throw in some Munich or Wheat Malt. Not sure how strong the wheat flavor is but Munich is pretty distinctive so I'd assume it'd drown out the difference if it really is that slight.
    – emachine
    Jun 19, 2014 at 2:14
  • 1
    That's really interesting Denny. Do you boil your Pale Malt wort for the same length of time as your Pils wort?
    – Graham
    Jun 20, 2014 at 14:30
  • This is very interesting, but I'd say that it depends on the pils malt. I think if you had compared an American pale malt with Weyermann Floor-Malted Bohemian Pilsner Malt, for example, you would have noticed significant flavor differences.
    – Jeff Roe
    Jun 24, 2014 at 0:52
  • Graham, yes I do.
    – Denny Conn
    Jun 25, 2014 at 14:48

There is this guy on homebrewtalk which describes the difference very good

Compared to Pilsner, regular 2-row tastes pretty bland. 2-Row is basically flavor neutral, like Budweiser or something... Pilsener has a more malty flavor like say Becks, or Stella ??

Hard to describe, but taste a good European or Chezh Pilsener and the malt you're tasting is Pilsener Malt. Now taste some non-craft American beer and you're most likely tasting 2-row.

Flowers and spice are the hop flavors we're looking for in a pilsner so adding that would nudge it in the pilsner direction. You can also try a different yeast which is specifig for pilsner e.g. Czech Pils yeast.

You could also try adding some pilsner malt in to the mix which is quite pale and strongly flavored. It is also known as "lager malt"

  • I had to downvote because of the "use pils malt" comment.
    – Denny Conn
    Jun 18, 2014 at 14:26
  • Why did you have to do that?
    – eikooc
    Jun 18, 2014 at 14:33
  • Thanks for the answer. I'm not actually making a pilsner. I just want to mimic the flavor of the grain while using 2-row as the majority of the base malt since I always have plenty of that on hand.
    – emachine
    Jun 18, 2014 at 16:09
  • 1
    I did it because you didn't tell him how to make pale malt taste like pils malt. You told him to use pils malt.
    – Denny Conn
    Jun 18, 2014 at 16:22
  • That is why I answered the steps to take to make it taste more like pilsner. "adding some" means you still use your 2-row as base. The other steps I listen are relevant enough. I don't see how this is not a good answer?
    – eikooc
    Jun 18, 2014 at 16:39

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.