Elemental Pilsener | Lightning Brewery

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Elemental PilsenerElemental Pilsener
59 Ratings
Elemental PilsenerElemental Pilsener

Brewed by:
Lightning Brewery
California, United States

Style: German Pilsener

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 5.50%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by xlperro on 06-17-2006

Bros Score:
User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 59 |  Reviews: 30
Reviews by the Alström Bros:

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More User Reviews:
Photo of magictrokini
3/5  rDev -12.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Draft at SD Brewery. Pours clear gold with a bubbly white head. Grass, hay, spun sugar, and grain in the nose. More straw and Saaz in the taste, but mixed with lemon and honey, and something funky (the yeast they tout? never had brett in a Pilsner). Overall, an okay beer.

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Photo of mbunje
3.7/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

poured from a 22oz bottle to a pint glass.

Pours a rich golden color with medium carbonation. A little bit of sediment which is not expected. Very nice head for a pilsner. eggshell white with decent lacing. Looks to be a very thirst quenching beer.

Smell of grassy hops. A bit of malt and just hint of lemon-citrus in it. For a pilsner, pretty good nose.

Light malt in the taste succumbs to a tart, lemony flavor. Some bitterness from the hops makes for a pleasant sourdough-like flavor.

Crisp and dry. Light weight, but still pretty good body. A rich pilsner in my mind.

Could drink these all day. A good offering.

I am not a big fan of the pilsner style as it doesn't have the range of character of ales. But I like this as a very drinkable, everyday beer.

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Photo of mrelizabeth
3.5/5  rDev +2.3%

Photo of WoodBrew
2.06/5  rDev -39.8%
look: 3 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

I tried this beer at the Beer Hunter in La Quinta, CA. It poured a clear golden with huge fizzy head that did not leave any lace. The scent had touches of over primed bottle and grain. The taste was poor and not easy to drink. The mouthfeel was lighter in body with huge carbonation. Overall its not a very good beer...I might try it again if available on tap...never again in a bottle or can.

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Photo of Fatehunter
3.44/5  rDev +0.6%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Pours two fingers of head on a hazy straw body.
The aroma is lemon and honey.
The taste is moderate lemon bitterness. A bit chewy.
The texture is softer.

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Photo of HalfFull
3.6/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Finally getting around to buying a bottle from this low key brewery here in San Diego County after a couple marginal draught experiences. Poured into a Pils glass from a 22 oz. bottle, The Elemental Pilsner pours a clear straw with perhaps a hint of haze and offers an inch of white foam. Laces well and stirs up a cap as needed.

Nose is grainy with a touch of lemony hops though rather subtle in that regard at first, expanding with some warming. Light bready malt backdrop lingers in shadows.

Hops are more evident from the get go on the taste, with a notable spice and an initial citric sweetness which ebbs with some exposure, giving the beer a somewhat dry flavor and finishing with a flash of light bitterness. Flavor is a bit nondescript however given the dryness of the beer. Feel isn't as full as expected at first yet matches the lack of malt depth and has a supportive carbonation level. In the end decent but not quite enough to grab a hold. Still unique for a local beer and yet quite rare to stumble upon.

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Photo of mrcraft
3.5/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Photo of rallison
2.15/5  rDev -37.1%
look: 4 | smell: 1.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2

Man, I like Lightning in general, but they really need to QA their beers before they get shipped out. First, I had a Black Lightning Porter explode on me. Now this..

Pours a nice golden color with a half finger white head that leaves some lacing.

And now, the first smell. Well, what do you know? Tons of diacetyl. The smell is horrid - diacetyl and what reminds me of corn. So far as I know, they use no corn in this - but it reminds me of such. This is completely out of place. The smell alone ruins this beer. Why, Lightning, why??

The taste is also reminiscent of butter and corn, with some Pilsner-like hops. Overall though, the taste is simply not good. Definitely the worst Lightning beer I have had, and one of the worst beers I have had ever. Too many off flavors here.

Mouthfeel is good - with an appropriate level of carbonation.

Drinkability is ok - at best - the flavors suck, but the light body and carbonation allow for somewhat easy drinking.

Not recommended! This beer is flawed from start to finish.

Edit: This beer was bad. I drank about 6 ounces (out of a 22oz bomber) and poured the rest - for me to pour so much says a lot about this beer.

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Photo of largadeer
4/5  rDev +17%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to ArthurPendragon for including this as an extra in a recent trade.

Into a nonic, the beer appears pale and golden, bright and clear with a torrent of carbonation feeding a head of a finger's height. The aromatics are clean and grainy, faintly yeasty. Zesty, lemony hops contribute to the aroma, but take a backseat to the crackery malt. To the palate the hops are more aggressive, reminiscent of lime zest and fresh herbs, perhaps a bit grassy. Bitterness is moderate, higher than one would find in the average German or Czech pilsner, but expected for an American representation. The body is medium-light, crisp, the malt profile clean, lending only a hint of sweetness and a pleasant biscuit-like character. It finishes on a minty note, with that lingering note of lime zest that I find quite enjoyable. For a brewery that gets no love, this is pretty solid stuff. Clean and highly drinkable, it also has a unique character. Recommended for people that can actually appreciate a pilsner, which may exclude 99.7% of San Diego.

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Photo of metter98
3.49/5  rDev +2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

A: The beer is hazy light pale yellow in color and has a moderate amount of visible carbonation. It poured with a quarter finger high bright white head that died down a bit but consistently left a short head covering the surface and lots of lacing down the sides of the glass.
S: Light aromas of grassy hops are present in the nose along with notes of sweet bready malts.
T: The taste starts out with faint bits of sweet bready malts, but these are quickly replaced with flavors of grassy malts that linger though the finish and also contribute a light amount of bitterness.
M: It feels light- to medium-bodied on the palate and has a moderate amount of carbonation.
O: This beer is easy to drink and has nice grassy aromas and flavors, but is a little lacking in the malt department.

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Photo of javiernano
3/5  rDev -12.3%

Photo of wulfie85
3.76/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Photo of yokken
3.75/5  rDev +9.6%

Photo of VaTechHopHead
3.83/5  rDev +12%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A - pours a slightly chill hazed golden yellow with tons of carbonation and a huge bone white head. Looks inviting

S - a nice light malt aroma with a hint of DMS but works well. Classic pilsener aroma, very light and crisp

T - light corn, DMS, and a very faint butterscotch taste. Nice and light malt a hint of lactic acid and hay. Again, very classic flavors

M/O - light body and perfect carbonation, leaves the palate slightly dry from the lactic acid but aftertaste leaves quickly. In a region gone mad with hoppy beers this is a classic style made well but nothing outside the box and revolutionary. Just a classic beer made very well

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Photo of womencantsail
3.11/5  rDev -9.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

A: The pour is a pale golden color with a very fluffy white head on the top.

S: Spicy noble hops and lager yeast dominate the nose with the rest of the aroma being taken care of by a malty sweetness.

T: The hops in the flavor are a mix of lightly spicy and grassy (especially on the finish), with a hint of bitterness. Again, the grain and malt sweetness make up the bulk of the sensations on the palate.

M: Fairly light on the tongue with a full carbonation.

D: A decent pilsner, but the hop flavors seemed a bit off to me and degrading the drinking experience.

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Photo of dbalsock
4.17/5  rDev +21.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

So this looked like a fairly standar pilsner, with the only bonus being it's fairly nice white head and lacing. The smell was a pretty equal mix of light somewhat grainy malts and almost piney (but more bush like) hops. The taste was similar to the smell, but the hops weren't as overpowering as I expected. It was very well balanced in both taste and mouthfeel and the overall drinkability was exceptional. This is a session brew for sure, and I would gladly have another if I was still at the bar.

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Photo of SocalKicks
3.5/5  rDev +2.3%

Photo of ralphw56
4/5  rDev +17%

Photo of kkjohann
4.36/5  rDev +27.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Great clean pils. Best Pils I had in the US.

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Photo of jcallover34
3.5/5  rDev +2.3%

Photo of mactrail
3.68/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Handsome, creamy head on the dark golden beer. Poured into a Weston's Cider tall glass. Quite gorgeous, with the foam lasting longer than on most beers.

Substantial bitterness from the start. Resiny with some flowery hop aroma, and that fruity, tangy European hop flavor. More of a Pale Ale flavor with the browned biscuit taste. Rather sweet and spicy with a more substantial body than most Pilseners.

Really, this is a pretty decent brew. I keep sipping and it quite satisfying, though a little on the bitter side. They must have a fresh batch of this stuff in the stores, as the hop flavors are quite aromatic. I've avoided Lightning for a couple of years, since I never see any of their beers on tap locally, but apparently they're still kicking.

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Photo of
2.75/5  rDev -19.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

22oz. bottle

Very clear, yellow with orange tint. Modest, off-white head. Decent lacing, no legs.

Aroma was sweet, like bread dough and well balanced with spiciness and citrus.

Taste showed good balance as well. Spicy, at the start and the finish. Bread dough in the middle. As I drank, something about the sweet character became less appealing, almost an artifical sweetner type of taste. Pepper at finish.

Medium body. Medium to low carbonation, would improve if increased a bit. Not particularly dry, almost sweet.

My personal preference is for my pils to be more hoppy, more crisp, and drier. Not to my taste.

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Photo of cubixrube
3.25/5  rDev -5%

Photo of Wildwood_Brew
3.43/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Photo of HopHead84
4.03/5  rDev +17.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4


"I haven't had a lager from my local lager brewery since I've begun to enjoy lagers," I thought, as I stared at the selection of Lightning beers in the cooler before my eyes at Holiday Wine Cellar. Shortly thereafter, I was overheard saying something to the effect of "I'll have to remedy that this evening," or more precisely, "Perhaps I'll enjoy one of these fine beverages after my evening repast."

There's some discrepancy regarding what may or may not have been said when I picked out this beer, but I've put that behind me now, as Elemental Pilsner sits before me, unopened, next to my Pokal.

The beer appears straw golden in my tall glass, crowned with a three finger creamy white head. Clarity is perfect, and the glass showcases the rapid ascension of thousands of bubbles to dazzling effect. The head lasts for a long time, and when it recedes it leaves thick sheets of lacing all over the glass.

The nose is nice, exhibiting a slightly spicy noble hop bouquet, a subtle grassiness, and a whisper of DMS. The malt is grainy and I detect no fruity esters.

The flavor opens with a clean bitterness in the upper moderate range and a grainy malt profile. The noble hops are the main attraction, and they are well displayed. The dry finish is crisp and clean, and bitterness lingers on my palate for a long time. The mouthfeel is medium light bodied with a moderate level of carbonation.

I've had a somewhat negative impression of Lightning for as long as I can remember, and I essentially never drink their beers, which is strange since the brewery is so damn close to me. Perhaps this is attributable to my love for Ales when I first got into craft beer a few years back. However this impression came about, a reacquaintance the brewery was long overdue, and I'm glad I decided to pick this beer up today. Despite the many bad reviews I see on here, I found this to be enjoyable, refreshing, and a good interpretation of a German Pilsner. I'll have to try it a few more times to see if the bottles are consistent.

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Elemental Pilsener from Lightning Brewery
Beer rating: 3.42 out of 5 with 59 ratings