Wernesgruner Pils


Review Date 5/26/2006 Last Updated 10/14/2020  By John Staradumsky

Deep in the heart of what was once East Germany there is a tiny little brewery with a long history in the quaint town of Wernesgrun. Maybe you’ve heard of it, but more likely you haven’t (it’s OK, I hadn’t either before I found out they had a brewery). The brewery is called, fittingly enough, Wernesgruner, and they make a “legendary pilsner” that is sold far and wide in Europe, Africa, and Asia.

My first taste of the beer came just the other day, when I picked up a six-pack at the local Aldi discount supermarket. In case you don’t have an Aldi nearby, you should know that they are a German-owned concern that stocks mostly private label brands at deeply discounted prices. Our local Aldi, until quite recently, was not able to sell beer and wine, though many do. When they finally received their alcohol license, one of the first beers they offered was Wernesgruner Pilsner.

When I got my six-pack home I immediately popped the bottles out of the six-pack carrier, and was a little distressed to see a best by date of December 2005 stamped on the package. No wonder they’re so cheap, I thought. But then I looked closer and saw that I was mistaken: the 2005 was really 2006. These old eyes can do that to me sometimes.

Anyway, that meant I had pretty fresh beer. Kudos, too for the brown glass bottles attractively adorned with a gold logo label and a flashy foil neck wrapper done up in the same color (brown glass protects the beer inside from harmful light much better than green glass does).

Before I finally get to the beer itself, I’ll travel down memory lane a bit too an old brand I once enjoyed, because Wernesgruner Pilsner reminds me of it a bit. That beer was Berliner Pils, another East German brand that was actually sold in the USA years before the wall came crashing down. It was a very respectable example of German pilsner and sold for a song back in the eighties, thanks to a very favorable exchange rate.

The brewery claims to have been brewing since 1436, though Pilsner, of course, has not been around nearly so long. Their motto is “Alles im Grunen Bereich” (everything in the green circle), sort of a “circle of life” reference as far as I can tell. And their flagship brew is Wernesgruner Pilsner.

Wernesgruner Pilsner pours to a light golden color with a thick, spritzy head formation that fades almost as quickly as it forms. The nose promises fresh grassy hops; the palate delivers them. At first, the beer is crisp and biscuity malty with fresh bread notes and a very clean palate. The hops slowly begin to emerge, and they leave a gentle minty-grassy buzz on the tongue that balances the beer perfectly.

That hop buzz lingers a little after sipping and makes this a very refreshing beer indeed, and one you could easily drink a lot of. Partially that’s because the beer is a little lighter (just a little mind you) in body and than say, Warsteiner German Pils. But consider this: Wernesgruner sells for a ridiculously low $4.99 a six-pack. That makes it a much better buy than Becks or St. Pauli Girl, and it has more flavor than those beers too.

In fact, this beer is actually cheaper than Bud in many places, and that makes it a great brew to move you away from the so-called King of Beers.

Update 10/14/2020: I pick this up every now and again at ALDI, and it really is a great beer at a great price. Crisp biscuit malt aroma in the nose, even more in the palate, permeated with earthy grassy hops that leave a soft dry bitterness at the last. This has to be a fresh six-pack because my bottles say best by 07/08/2021. $6.49 a six-pack, it's an incredible bargain too! What does Bud go for these days? Hopping on Total Wine, Bud sells for $6.99 a six-pack, though you can get a better deal in larger quantities. Still, I would take Wernesgruner over Bud ANY day.

A full five starts for a great beer at a really great price.

And remember, try a new beer today, and drink outside the box.

*Pricing data accurate at time of review or latest update. For reference only, based on actual price paid by reviewer.