While driving back from More Flavor today, I noticed a Miller Light truck. Underneath the logo read something along the lines of "a true Pilsner beer." I'm sorry, but no.
Look, I realize that there are some people out there who drink Miller Light and actually enjoy it. I'm not commenting on the quality of it. I'm just saying, Pilsner is a specific kind of a style, and Miller Light ain't it. I suppose that perhaps, technically it's a Pilsner, but only in the same sense that Hannity and Colmes is a debate show and a turd between two pieces of bread is a sandwich. (Okay, perhaps I am commenting on the quality of it. For the record, I was once at somebody's house and that was all he had. I actually had two. It's not horrible. It's just extraordinarily unremarkable.)
According to the Beer Advocate website, a Pilsner is described as follows: "The Czech Pilsner, or sometimes known as the Bohemian Pilsner, is light straw to golden color and crystal clear. Hops are very prevalent usually with a spicy bitterness and or a spicy floral flavor and aroma, notably one of the defining characteristics of the Saaz hop. Smooth and crisp with a clean malty palate, many are grassy. Some of the originals will show some archaic yeast characteristics similar to very mild buttery or fusel (rose like alcohol) flavors and aromas."
There's also a description for the German Pilsner, "Classic German Pilsners are very light straw to golden in color. Head should be dense and rich. They are also well-hopped, brewed using Noble hops such has Saaz, Hallertauer, Hallertauer Mittelfrüh, Tettnanger, Styrian Goldings, Spalt, Perle, and Hersbrucker. These varieties exhibit a spicy herbal or floral aroma and flavor, often times a bit coarse on the palate, and distribute a flash of citrus-like zest--hop bitterness can be high."
Okay, I'll admit that these are terms that are a bit above me when it comes to describing beer. Still, I know enough to know what "hoppy" means, and both of these descriptions mention how Pilsners (Yeah, there's more than one spelling) have a distinctive hop taste to them. (For those who don't know, hops are what give beer their bitterness. If you don't have a balance with the hops and the malt, then you get something that's too sweet.) Miller Light only resembles a Pilsner in the sense that it has a light color to it. You'd have to struggle to notice the hop flavor with those. They hardly use any, and this is probably because there's hardly any malt in there.
Let's also not forget the fact that a true Pilsner is an all-malt product. Miller Light probably uses rice, corn and who knows what the hell else.
Drink it if you like it, but it ain't no Pilsner. Want to actually have a Pilsner? Try the following:
Lagunitas Pilsner (my personal favorite)
Trader Joe's Bohemian Lager
Gordon Biersch Pilsner (actually, it's the same beer as the one above - just with a different label).
Czechvar (also known as Budweiser Budvar)