Steam Whistle Pilsner | Steam Whistle Brewing

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Steam Whistle PilsnerSteam Whistle Pilsner

Brewed by:
Steam Whistle Brewing
Ontario, Canada

Style: American Pale Lager

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 5.00%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
We believe that world-class results require focus and dedication, so we developed a distinctive recipe for our single brand based on Europe's renowned brewing standards yet is brewed fresh locally at our independent, Canadian Brewery.

We use traditional brewing techniques and only four natural ingredients including spring water, malted barley, hops and yeast - all GMO-free. There is a fifth ingredient in every refreshing bottle, and that is the passion of our dedicated Brewmaster and staff.

Added by BeerAdvocate on 08-28-2002

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Reviews: 143 | Ratings: 432
Photo of indiapaleale
3.3/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pour - straw color, clean and clear with solid carbonation providing a thin, stark white head.

Aroma - sticking my nose in the glass I get some grassy notes, a bit of citrus as well as some sweet and almost sour notes. There is also some elements of hay as well some earthiness.

Taste - once this hits the tongue I'm reminded about how much this style is about being crisp and clean and not about the flavors that are provided by so many ales. Steam Whistle has some light sweetness, some sharp notes along with an earthy, dry finish. There are some decent grainy, cereal flavors but overall this is a beer that's about being smooth without a lot of aftertaste. It accomplishes that quite well.

Overall - don't ever let anyone tell you that brewing a good pilsner is an easy task. It's certainly not the simplest style, it has no flavors or colors to hide imperfections and lagering beer cost money. Steam Whistle does a good job of living up to their motto of "do one thing, and do it really, really well." Their pilsner is refreshing and well put together. We give extra credit to any brewery willing to take on the big guys. Well done in that department Steam Whistle.

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Photo of KickbacksSteve
3.58/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Canned on august 15, 2011, 500 ml Aroma sorta familiar, pilsner malt, mild hop, but there is an aroma that's different...cant really explain what it is. Maybe its the Canadian water? Just has some type of aroma to it that's unique and it comes forward in the taste a bit also. Taste is certainly lager like, mild biscuit/bread, mild sweetness and bitterness. Easy, vey easy to drink. Not bad at all.

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Photo of spinrsx
3.47/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5


Appearance – Clear yellow colour with a below average size fizzy white coloured head. There is an average amount of carbonation showing and there is almost no lacing. The head lasted for around 3 minutes before it was gone.

Smell - Grains, bread, malts, grass, hops, corn

Taste & Mouth - The beer has an average amount of carbonation. I can taste breads/grains mixed with light hops and some corn. I can also pick up on some malts and a slight grassiness. It finishes with a sweet corn and lightly spicy aftertaste

Overall – Definitely a step up from most of the Canadian macros that you find at every bar/restaurant in Ontario. The taste won't blow you away, but it's refreshing and very drinkable. I could easily go through a 6 pack of these.

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Photo of thehyperduck
3.59/5  rDev +5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 4

I've had this a few times, but it was always in a social setting so I haven't bothered to review it yet. Steam Whistle pours a brilliant golden-yellow colour topped with a thin white head that dies down to a patchy cap within a few minutes; some lacing on the sides. A torrent of bubbles rushes from the bottom of the glass to the top for most of the session. The smell is nice - floral hops with some sweetgrass and underlying pale grain malts, about what I would expect from a pilsener. I have had some slightly skunky Steam Whistle in the past, but the can seems to eliminate this problem.

Up front the taste is mostly slightly sweet barley malt, with some underlying floral hop bitterness and a faint hint of spiciness. Slightly dry in the finish, but ultimately there isn't much hop character for a pils. Bitingly heavy carbonation with a thin to medium-thin mouthfeel. I could see this being a decent session beer option.

Steam Whistle is not exactly an outstanding pilsener, but it's still crisp and tasty with a fairly balanced flavour profile. I would appreciate some more hoppiness, but I accept that styles are always open to a certain level of interpretation. I've had better pilseners, but this is highly drinkable with no serious flaws. Worth a try if you see it, but not really worth going out of your way for.

[Updated Oct. 30 2013]

Picked up another 500 mL can, this time from TBS. The database used to have Steam Whistle classified as a German Pils, which I tend to expect different things from than an APL. While I still consider this a middling example of a pilsener (it simply lacks the noble hop presence I want from that style), as far as regular craft lagers go, this is a respectable offering with a clean barley malt flavour that goes down easy. This beer's success probably derives from the fact that it can easily be enjoyed by both macro drinkers and a plurality of craft fans – perhaps not the more anal-retentive amongst us, but those looking for a straightforward and clean-tasting lager to session should find this to be a safe option.

Final Grade: 3.59, a B grade.

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Photo of Matt1516
3.2/5  rDev -6.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Pale gold in appearance with a slight head.

Smells faintly of lemon and graininess.

The taste is a little watery with mild carbonation. Not much for hops. Some breadiness. To the positive it is crisp and clean.

One of those inoffensive "soda-pop" beers you often see at the cottage/camping.

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Photo of MattyV
3.17/5  rDev -7.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

Crystal clear deep yellow, short-lived soapy white head. Aroma is slightly grassy and earthy, but is mostly dominated by sweet grains and corn. A light caramel sweetness is detectable throughout, along with a weak bready/biscuity malt backbone and metallic undertone. Little to no hop flavour or bitterness, just a touch of grassy flavour on the back end and a splash of bitterness on the tongue in the aftertaste. Lots of sweet corn flavours begin to come out more as it warms. Modest body with plenty of sharp, somewhat harsh carbonation. I've had this on occasion but never had the opportunity to review it. Not great, but well-distributed and perhaps slightly above the usual macro offerings.

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Photo of Stocean1
3.03/5  rDev -11.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A - poured a one finger head from a nitro can - pale yellow - head did not last long - little lacing

S - light malt - some floral notes - bready

T - light malt up front - stale biscuit - a little bitterness - nothing too complicated

M - light bodied - dry - a little tart - decent carbonation

O - a very average beer that I used to enjoy much more - to be fair I am not a huge pilsener fan

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Photo of marty21
3.52/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A: Pours a clear golden yellow with one finger worth of white fizzy head. Settles to a ring around the glass but doesn’t leave a whole lot for lacing.

S: Grainy and biscuity malt with a few floral hints.

T: You get the grains up front and it finishes with the biscuit malt. A bit of floral hops once in awhile on the tongue after you swallow.

M: Medium carbonation with a light to medium body.

O: I heard a lot of good things about this beer. It didn’t knock my socks off but I did enjoy it. It did a great job refreshing me on a hot summer day on the patio.

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Photo of Ardon
3.33/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 2 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: Very thin looking with a foamy head, which does not sustain itself.

Smell: Sweet tobacco and cracker malt. Crusty bread.

Taste: More of the crusty bread character. Light hoppy bitterness. Not overly complex but the simple flavours it has are delicious.

Mouthfeel: This is where this beer falls short. Light bodied but lacking anything impressive. A little bit bitter, a little bit refreshing. Very thin but with a club soda like carbonation.

Overall: An acceptable beer, which I know will be fresh in my area. Enjoy the simple flavours of this beer, so reach for it occasionally.

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Photo of EgadBananas
3.32/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Thanks to korguy123 for the local!

Green bottle, nicely oldschool.

Pours a pale straw color, white head, didn't stay long. Aroma is crisp, malt rich, with a bit of nuttiness. That carried over pretty equally into the taste: Malt rich, nutty. Feel was slick and creamy, but crisp and light in body. A pretty standard pilsner; not bad at all, but doesn't wow any.

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

A - Pours with one finger of white foam on top of a clear, golden body. The head settles rapidly and leaves little lace.

S - Bready malt notes with lots of musty, herbal hop aroma.

T - Dry, grainy malt up front with some biscuit notes. More of the same in the middle as herbal hops begin to appear. A hint of honey shows up in the finish along with more herbal hop flavor and light bitterness.

M - Medium body, moderate carbonation, and a somewhat dry finish.

D - Bready and herbal, this is a well balanced and drinkable pilsner. The hop character is fairly robust with a lot of herbal character, but somewhat anemic bitterness. The malt is a bit lighter than I would like it to be as it has only weak touches of honey and bread though it does provide the beer with some thickness and body. Overall, it is a fairly well made pils that hits most of the appropriate notes for the style.

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Photo of SebD
3.65/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: It has a nice yellow/golden colour to it. It has a nice white head that dies down moderatly and has nice lacing.

Smell: The aromas definitly give out hints of sweet bready/grainy malts with grassy and floral hops.

Taste: Like the aromas, it has a nice sweet matliness with nice floral and grassy hops coming through to add a slight bitterness. It has a dry finish.

Mouthfeel: It has a medium carbonation with a nice balance of malts and hops.

Drinkability: It's a very smooth drinkable beer accompanied with good flavours and aromas. It's an overall good pilsener.

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Photo of evlu1441
3.67/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This is one of my go-to beers for summer. It comes in a cool retro looking bottle. Unfortunately, the bottle is green.

Pours a medium straw colour. Lots of carbonation and a thin head that stays even after several minutes. Looks decent, and pretty standard for a pilsner.

The aroma is slightly grainy and faintly skunky (green bottle). It's nothing special, but not offensive.

The taste is quite nice. Light hop bitterness followed by rich malt flavours. It doesn't finish on a bitter note, which is a bit uncharacteristic of pilsners, but it makes it extra drinkable. The mouthfeel is medium, and the carbonation makes for a really creamy experience.

Overall, this isn't exceptional or even great, but it really drinks well and tastes good. Really refreshing on a hot summer day without being devoid of flavour.

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Photo of
2.38/5  rDev -30.4%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Aroma - Very pale yellow with a nice little head that quickly dissipates.
Aroma - Bready malt aromas with a touch of hops. Not much going on here, really.
Flavour - Bready, sweet, only the slightest note of hops, not enough bitterness to balance it out. Mediocre at best.
I have enjoyed this on tap in the past, so either it is not as good in the can or my palate has improved.

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Photo of Mit
3.51/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

a-pours a clear deep golden colour with a nice decent lasting stark white head.

s-bready notes followed by a little hoppiness.

t-hops, slight malt flavour but def balanced. Nice and even, with nothing being too extreme.

m-good for the abv.

d-very drinkable. Great summertime beer.

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Photo of eat
3.42/5  rDev 0%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Totally clear golden body with a thin cover of bright-white head. A fairly average looking beer.

Light, peppery Czech hops, citrus, yeast, mineral water. Decent.

Light and pretty uninteresting, though fairly well-balanced and appropriately refreshing. Tastes mostly of Czech hops and slightly too-sweet malt. A tiny bit of diacetyl shows through. The finish is a little drying. Not much to report here; a fairly plain beer.

Medium-light bodied and moderately carbonated. This feel in no way stands out.

Sure, it's drinkable. I guess it's a step up from Molson and Labatt products. As the only beer being brewed by this brewery, however, I'd expect something a bit more solid than this stuff. I bought a few of these to make pizza dough with; I think I'll stick to using it that way.

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Photo of canucklehead
3.65/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A pretty good pils that is highly drinakble with enough character that a glass is desired. The nose is there but I could do with more hops but it looks good and drinks clean and crisp. The finish is fairly abrupt for the style making it more of a patio beer than a year round lager.

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Photo of kwjd
3.23/5  rDev -5.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Had this on tap as the other choices were horrendous, as is often the case. Poured a pale yellow with nice white head. Good enough retention and a leaves a few spots of lacing. Smell is grassy hops and bread malt, typical pilsner I guess. Taste is muted, but a slight bitterness. This beer is good enough to order when the rest of the beer list sucks, but not good enough to seek out.

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Photo of jpro
3.45/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Courtesy of the massive Canadian beer haul... Poured from the 500mL can into a pilsner glass. Its your typical straw gold, with a white, quasi-fizzy head that recedes pretty quickly; there are a couple bubbles of lace here and there. Aroma is of grains, spicy / earthy hops and some metallic tones. Taste is a bit more bready / doughy, with a well balanced hop bitterness on the finish - pretty smooth. Mouthfeel is on the light side of medium, with a somewhat lively carbonation. Pretty drinkable / refreshing - had one coming home off the golf course and it hit the spot.

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Photo of merlin48
3.42/5  rDev 0%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Green bottle pours a crystal clear golden body with a small white head. The head quickly falls to a ring and leaves only a few spots of lace. Aroma has a hint of spicy noble hops and some wet grain. Light medium body has plenty of carbonation. Taste has a dominant sweet bready maltiness that is balanced by a nice hop presence that is spicy, slightly floral, and has a hint of skunk. Drys out at the finish which saves drinkability.

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Photo of scott451
3.55/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Tapped into a Steam Whistle glass. Two finger white head on clear golden colour. Moderate lacing. Malty smells. Some grass notes. Moderate flavour. Malty taste with a mild hop twist at the end. Well balanced. Medium body. Fairly high carbonation. Drinkability is fairly high.

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Photo of biegaman
3.26/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

On-tap at Toast, in Toronto.

Even average pilsners tend to look great. Brilliant, crystalline clarity and a blistering golden colour allows their acrobatic bubbles to be easily observed and their head, fitted tight as the skin of a bongo drum, is invariably pristine white. It's a very attractive and approachable style and this one is no exception. I'm ready to take a drink!

There are two types of Pilsners: those that care about how they smell and those that don't (which is to say, more implicitly, those that are designed to appeal to mainstream drinkers and those that are actually fashioned true to style and have a wonderfully fragrant, hoppy aroma). Steam Whistle, disappointingly, is evidently the former.

Any notions that this local, craft-brewed pilsner will outshine even the industrially produced German examples can be dispensed with fairly quickly. Actually, it's about on par with them. The flavour is slightly emasculated for what it should be, too modest a malt bill and virtually zero hoppiness, and its texture is dissolved by a sharp, piercing carbonation.

Half way through my second pint, something occurred to me: this is really much more of a Kölsch than Pilsner. Its soft, highly attenuated malt profile is awfully redolent of a kölsch, in large part because there's no hop flavour, and so little bitterness, to differentiate otherwise. This is too subtle, too insubstantial for me to truly consider it a pilsner.

Steam Whistle sets out to brew a middle-of-the-road lager and, as their advertising boasts, they do that one thing and they do it really well. To call Steam Whistle ordinary is to understate the fact; while it offers mainstream drinkers a cleaner alternative to most mass-produced offerings it fails to transcend the pedestrian or unmemorable.

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Photo of soju6
3.65/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: Pours a clear golden color with a thin head that fades quickly.

S: Has a clean smell with a trace of sweetness.

T: Has a light sweetness that is crisp & clean and a light bitterness in the finish.

F: Fairly light body that is smooth and goes down easy.

D: This is an enjoyable and drinkable brew. I always look for it when I'm north of the border. Not filling and always room for one more.

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Photo of ritzkiss
3.23/5  rDev -5.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

12oz bottle from a sixer at the LCBO, packaging date of May 5.

Pours a crystal clear light straw golden with a thin finger of head which quickly dies and leaves no head, just bubbles streaming to the top with no retention.

Nose is malt and floral hopping, a little sweetness coming through and if the bottle didn't state all malt I would have guessed some corn.

Taste is similar. Pretty floral and sweet for the style, light bitterness in the finish, crisp but unsatisfying mouthfeel, almost syrupy which for the style is kinda weird. Could use some more hops to tame the sweetness and give more of a dry finish. Not as refreshing as I would want but a fine summer quaff.

Certainly a good step above the macros but this isn't a pils I would recommend, especially due to other quality offerings in the area.

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Photo of TheSevenDuffs
3.48/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

On tap @ Canyon. Served in pint glass.

A - Poured a light yellow colour with a lot of visible carbonation and half a finger of light bubbly white head.

S - Light bready malt nose. Not much else going on.

T - Crisp bready malts with a very subtle hop bite.

M - Light body, lots of carbonation.

D - An excellent pilsener. A little more in the palate would be nice but overall this is a very good beer that goes down very smoothly on a hot summer afternoon.

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Steam Whistle Pilsner from Steam Whistle Brewing
3.42 out of 5 based on 432 ratings.
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