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Sudwerk Imperial Pilsner | Sudwerk Brewing Company

19 Reviews
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Sudwerk Imperial PilsnerSudwerk Imperial Pilsner

Brewed by:
Sudwerk Brewing Company
California, United States | website

Style: American Double / Imperial Pilsner

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 7.00%

Availability: Limited (brewed once)

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by Halcyondays on 05-29-2010

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

User Reviews
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Reviews: 19 | Ratings: 30
Photo of Fatehunter
3.41/5  rDev -5.8%
look: 2 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured minimal head on a hazy medium straw colored body.
It smells like a barnyard and wet hay, though in the best way.
The taste is big malt bill tempered by some lemon bitterness; fairly sweet overall.
A soft texture with some crispness and low carbonation.
It's full bodied and good.

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Photo of TheRealBigC
4.07/5  rDev +12.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Now this imperial pilsener actually has some bite to it. The alcohol is just enough to sting a little bit. It's not overly malty, nor overly hoppy. It's a wonderful balance of both. I also noticed that the smell on this one is stronger than the average pilsener. That spicy, somewhat citric property is easily detected. Nothing fancy, but an excellent example of this style.

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Photo of McStagger
3.53/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3

A: Aggressive pour of hazy, golden straw colored beer with two fingers thick white head. Head retention is moderate. Lacing is fairly high. Beer is very hazy. Could easily be confused for a hefe from looks alone.

S: Mostly standard pilsner smells. Crackery aroma from the malts, spicy and herbaceous hop notes. Lemon peel, tinge of minerality on the nose.

T: Big quaff leads to fairly pedestrian notes of the same crackery malt. Hops are spicy and present, with mild citrus rind, some saltiness, a touch of sulfur. The alcohol presence lends this beer to a bit on the sweet and malty side, with the hops not contributing a whole helluva lot. Finishes with a bit of resinous hop bitterness, but the malt really seems to dominate this show.

M: Big mouthfeel and awesome body. Pretty much the only part of this beer that feels "Imperial".

O: Not incredibly impressed with this. Not the imperial experience I was looking for. Definitely not worth 7 bucks a bomber.

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Photo of litheum94
3.01/5  rDev -16.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Reviewed 3/21/12.

Pale golden body, so clear you can read through it. Thick, bone white head that settles to a thin cover. Nice lacing. A good looking beer.

Can you say Noble hops? Dry and grassy, with some spice. Faint fruit and some corn husk.

Very dry, cracker malts, with a faint fruitiness. Spicy and grassy hops. Long lasting bitterness. Leaves a woody hop flavor in the mouth.

This is ok. It tastes like a regular pilsner to me, with a touch more hop bitterness. I was hoping for more, since the other two Imp Pilsners I've had (Uinta and FFF) were fantastic.

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Photo of Philousa
2.77/5  rDev -23.5%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

Poured an incredibly clear yellow gold with a thin layer of head that shrunk to the glass after each sip. Some Pils tartness in the nose, mostly lemony malt. Some breadiness with a good swirl. Strange for the style. Smooth watery feel turns thicker and tart Pilsner malt taste becomes strong. Not as clear, a bit more muddled than most Pilsners. I feel like I can't pick out the complexities as well.

I feel like an Imperial Pils is a foregone conclusion. It's never going to be as good as its regular variety brethren. The Pilsner is supposed to be clear, crisp, and quaffable. If you make it thick and too flavorful/syrupy, then what do you have? A messed up Pils. That said, I admire their efforts and I think it's a noble experiment. I just won't be reaching for my wallet when I see it on the shelf.

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Photo of kojevergas
3.15/5  rDev -13%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Bottle served into a transparent hard plastic cup at me friends gaff in Palo Alto, California. Acquired at a local BevMo. Reviewed from notes.

A: Pours a two finger head of no cream, bad thickness, and good retention. Colour is a nontransparent/opaque yellow.

Sm: Clean barley. Some hops. Maybe some lemon. A moderate strength aroma.

T: Lemon and barley. Simple and not as hoppy as expected. Balanced but a bit bland.

Mf: Smooth and wet, suiting the flavours generally.

Dr: Drinkable but boring. Enjoyable. I might try it on draught, but otherwise it's largely forgettable.


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Photo of bonkers
4/5  rDev +10.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I got this as part of the tickers BIF. The pour is hazy yellow with a big, fizzy white head that stuck around for a while, nice lacing. The aroma is bready, bisquity. The flavors are typical pilsner, biquity with a clean crisp finish, nice hoppy profile. The beer is light with good carbonation. A good impy pilsner, increased abv without changing pilsner qualities.

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Photo of brentk56
3.45/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: Pours a surprisingly cloudy (for a pilsner) golden honey color; the frothy eqg white head was raised only with a hard pour and left a few dots behind

Smell: Somewhat grainy, but the sweet malt really comes through, dominating the grassy hop elements

Taste: Sweet malt, up front, with bready undertones; by mid-palate, the grassy hops provide some balance but they take a back seat, after the swallow, to the malt

Mouthfeel: Medium to full body with moderate carbonation (rather low for the style)

Overall: Imperial Pilsners tend to be sweeter than I would like and this one is no exception; I would like to have seen a bit more hop to balance out the sweeter elements and the mouthfeel was way off the refreshing effervescence I look for from all Pilsners, imperial or otherwise

Thanks, PretzelCity, for the opportunity

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Photo of Klym
3.98/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

First in another session with Cavery.

A: Like a CGI-altered beer commercial, pours a clean and enchanting light gold with a head like the beer is celebrating something.

S: Smells of pine, honey and malt; decently aromatic for an imperial pils.

T: Taste is much like the smell, though I'd say a little bitterness comes through though largely masked by the malt. If I had to try to replicate the flavor, I might be tempted to lightly lather a bamboo chute with a little honey and sprinkle some pine on it (sounds weird, I know); a little bitter, a little sweet, a little earthy, but almost all the flavors subdued and a little shy. Really a good flavor for an imperial pils.

M: Even for a pils, seems to drink a bit thin. I would've enjoyed stronger carbonation as well, but I'm not sure that's not more of just what I wish instead of what it should be.

O: Solid imperial pils. Tried this on tap at the brewery and reviewed this from a bottle I had, it was largely the same as I remembered. If pilsners are your thing, I'd say it's worth checking this one out.

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Photo of aknight
3.61/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance is a golden yellow like you would expect from a pilsner. The smell is a sweet, malty cereal type smell. The taste is very malt forward with enough hop bite to keep things interesting. The malt definitely dominates the palate but there are enough hops in here to be noticeable and enjoyable. The mout feel is a little syrupy probably owing to what is pretty mild carbonation for this style of beer. This is definitely a drinkable beer. I don't think I would want to session this beer but it would be enjoyable with a meal, maybe a lighter fish.

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Photo of OWSLEY069
4.03/5  rDev +11.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a clean golden yellow color with a white head. In the aroma, malty lager like with a hint of pilsner hops. In the taste, just like the aroma, malty lager and a hint of hops. A hop bite and a medium bodied mouthfeel, with a small dry to clean aftertaste. More lager than pilsner, hides alcohol, and the first imperial pilsner/ lager that I really liked.

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Photo of OhSoHoppy
3.95/5  rDev +9.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Whoa, first off i had to do a double take and make sure a i read the label right. "IMPERIAL PILSNER", Yup,
from bottle to glass it sure sis look like a pilsner, the very golden hue and the frothy head on it. but as soon as you taste its strength as soon as it hits your palette you will be pleasantly surprised. the slightest amount of sour onto of the dry lightly bitterness. Clean feel.

to sum it up this is a classy pills with a decent amount of musle behind it.

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Photo of Offa
4.52/5  rDev +24.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

This is a wonderful strong pilsner type although to me it once again highlights what I consider to be the emptiness and groundlessness of specifying a so-called "American Imperial Pilsner" category since this beer, like all others I've had in this category, is essentially a Maibock. It is perhaps slightly more hoppy and less thick or malty than many maibocks I've had but some maibocks certainly have a lot of hop character. After all, what is a maibock but a strong pilsner or helles type?

In any case, this is pale gold with a medium-large white head steadily shrinking to a thin foamy top and leaving some nice lace.

Aroma is a lot of bready malt, grain lightly fruity-raisiny, light grassy and herbal hop, in short a nice, hop-leaning maibock overall.

Taste is very nice lighter-bodied slightly hop-leaning maibock character, or a lot like a slightly hop-leaning version of what a malt liquor (the cheap, lighter and usually adjuncty cousin of maibocks) "should" be like (I think of Rogue Dad's Little Helper, which to me was a complete dud in creating what I personally want from a malt-liquor-style-beer, but which this achieves well). It has light sweet grain, hint of bread, hint of raisiny light fruitiness (but much lighter in body than most maibocks), with nice grassy, faintly herbal hop zestiness and bitterness to go along with the light sweetness. It is exceedingly enjoyable, highly drinkable, with enough character to keep it going.

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Photo of lacqueredmouse
3.5/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

I do love a good pilsener, and an imperial one... well, perhaps not more so, but if they sock me in the mouth with extra pilsener characteristics, I'm not going to complain. Let's see how this one goes.

Pours a very light and very clear golden yellow colour, with an initially frothy head of foam, which settles to a white film on the top, that surprisingly doesn't leave much lacing. Body looks quite light for a 7% brew, but it looks decent enough. Genuinely looks like a pilsener at least.

Nose is a little funky, sweaty with a slight corny twang to it, but it's mollified a little by some decent fresh hop notes which give a slight fruit character. Missing a little sharpness for a pilsener, but not bad.

Taste is light, but pleasant enough. Some sharpness on the front with a slight lemon zest character, before a rather lengthy back palate that is drawn out because of quite a sharp alcohol hit on the back. It's not a bad character, but it's the only sign of the "imperial" in the name, and the other flavours aren't accentuated reciprocally. Feel is extremely light, which is expected, I guess.

It's a reasonably well done pilsener, but not a particularly well done imperial pilsener. The harsh alcohol is too prominent, and is the only thing which delineates this one from its non-imperial brethren. Needs something more, and it doesn't have it.

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Photo of mactrail
4.05/5  rDev +11.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Fairly strong beer with lager flavors.

Nice pale golden color in the glass. Head not very enthusiastic. Surprisingly rich with woody vanilla flavors, like a touch of oak. Hops are not assertive but the overall effect is decently balanced.

Reminds me of a Maibock style with restrained hops and strong, sweet flavors. Quite drinkable and pleasant. At the Blind Lady Ale House in San Diego.

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Photo of emmasdad
3.16/5  rDev -12.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Back in the mid to late nineties, when I lived in the Central Valley of California, I took monthly beer runs up to the Bay Area or Sacramento. Occasionally on those Sacramento runs, I would head up to Davis, and drop by Sudwerk for a sausage plate and a glass or two of their lagers. I hadn't thought of them for quite awhile, when I stumbled across a few bombers of this one in San Diego.

Poured a pale golden color with a good white head. If the bottle didn't say anything, I wouldn't have known this was an Imperial Pilsner. Nothing much to say here, just a standard, run of the mill craft pilsner. At least the sausage was good.

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Photo of peacebone116
4.01/5  rDev +10.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: Poured into pilsner glass; a deep yellow corn color--crystal clear--with 1-cm head that dissipates without leaving much lace.

N: Smells of light biscuit with a hop citrus--not an overwhelmingly strong nose.

T/M: Creamy, crisp bitter, butter biscuit flavor with a touch of orange citrus that settles firmly at the back of the tongue reminding the drinker, "While this is a Pilsner, it is still an Imperial Pilsner." Not overly carbonated, but enough to keep it feeling light in the mouth.
As the beer warms up a bit, the alcohol becomes slightly more noticeable behind the bitter butter-biscuit flavor; However, the beer remains very easy to drink and is very refreshing on a hot summer day.

This is a great style of brew; it is much more rich than a typical pils or helles, but it definitely was a full bodied rendition of a classic Bohemian recipe.

I certainly expected it to be a bit hoppier (think, light-bodied IPA...er, IP-Lager), but was not disappointed.

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Photo of bcm119
3.92/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pale straw color, good clarity, fine white head that fizzles pretty quickly. Light grainy aroma with some lemony hops. The beer opens with a punchy burst of leafy, noble hops, but the amped up pils malt base carries it with ease. The malt lends a nice touch of dry grain flavor and a little honey sweetness towards the finish. The mouthfeel is slightly oily and coats the palate with zesty hops; a little soft for a pilsner. Spot-on pils in flavor, just a little hopped up and stronger. A good beer in terms of execution, but I'd rather drink a regular pilsner.

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Photo of Halcyondays
3.75/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

On-tap at Beachwood BBQ,

A: Pours a pale yellow, with a fizzy white head, good head retention and some lace.

S: Grass & pine, very hoppy.

T: Sweet malt, almost corn like initially with a powerful orange/grapefruit hop attack.

M: Smooth, medium-bodied, good long aftertaste.

D: Sudwerk is the preeminent lager brewer in CA, and I quite like this Impy Pils. Not a complete showcase for hops, relatively balance for the style, one of the better beers I've had this month, good lagerbier.

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Sudwerk Imperial Pilsner from Sudwerk Brewing Company
83 out of 100 based on 19 ratings.