Voodoo Brewery Pilzilla: Is It the Real Deal?

It's one thing to hit the bullseye with a dark beer, but to brew a great pilsner takes a whole other level of skill.

Nate from Thank Heaven for Beer once said something that stuck with me – it’s easy to brew a big, bold dark beer because there’s plenty of flavor to hide your mistakes, but it takes skill and craftsmanship to brew a truly remarkable pilsner.  It’s a style of beer that seems pretty simple on its surface, but with its cleaner taste, there’s really nowhere to hide.

This is what I was thinking when I bought Voodoo Brewery’s Pilzilla, an amped up Americanized (or, as the brewer says “Voodooized”) take on a Czech/German/Polish pilsner.  I was impressed when I tried their Big Black Voodoo Daddy, but that’s a bodacious stout.  Could they pull off a pilsner?  I’ll cut to the chase – the answer is HELL YES.  They not only pull it off, they put a wonderful spin on it, creating a unique and remarkable beer.

Here’s how the folks over at Voodoo describe Pilzilla on their (awful) website:

Pilzilla is a beer that I’ve been brewing for years. Each year it gets bigger and bigger. Nicknamed “The beer that took over Tokyo”. It is an unfiltered Keller Bier. Nicley hopped at this point with 9 different kinds of hops at 10 additions and about 6.75 % alc. Each year we will add another variety of hop and bump the alc a bit. This is listed on Beer Advocate as the highest rated Kellerbier in the world.

Bottle Conditioned and Refermented.

This is not your average pilsner, get it before we drink it all! Prost!!

I really don’t think that last part about getting some while you can is a threat as much as a fair warning.

So what’s so special about this beer?  Let’s start with the pour. Pilzilla fills the glass with a beautiful, unfiltered golden haze topped with a pristine and fluffy white head.  It certainly looks the part.

Bringing it to your nose reveals a tantalizing mixture of biscuits and sweet malts, topped with a mild bouquet of floral and citrus notes.  It smells much like a traditional pilsner, but is a bit more in-your-face, in the American tradition of big flavor.

And speaking of big flavor, that’s what you get when the first crisp sip hits your senses.  The breadiness of the biscuits are there, as well as a peppery mixture of hops that walk right up to the line of throwing the beer out of balance and then stop just short.   It’s like a classic European pilsner turned up to 11, and it’s wonderful, from the first whiff of the aroma to the dry and prefectly bitter finish.

The only thing I didn’t love about this beer was a very faint metallic taste I detected in the back end of the flavor, but I’m oversensitive to metallic flavors, and it didn’t spoil the beer for me one little bit. If my tender palate can handle it, I’m confident no one else will find it offensive.

So here’s a little brewery from western Pennsylvania making beer in what appears to be an old furniture shop, and it’s really amazing stuff.  It’s one thing to brew a good dark beer, but to craft a pilsner as bold and confident as this one takes special talent, and there’s little doubt that the folks at Voodoo Brewery are quite talented indeed.  I think I need to try the rest of their line up to see just how talented.  I know, I suffer for the cause!

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Categories: Beer, review


Craft beer nerd, frequent beer blogger and occasional home brewer.

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7 Comments on “Voodoo Brewery Pilzilla: Is It the Real Deal?”

  1. Don
    June 11, 2010 at 11:15 am #

    Sounds good, but I’m wondering is it really a Pilsner? Does it have a mineral quality that comes from the water of many great pilsners? Is it overhopped for the average pilsner drinker, or did they keep the puck in play? I know you like big an bold Jim, so I’m wondering if this beer appealed to that side of your brain while the delicacies of a true pilsner might have been lost? Let me know.

    • June 11, 2010 at 11:21 am #

      It’s all pilsner, Don. That’s what makes it special – it’s bold, but still retains the characteristics of a good pilsner, everything is just kicked up a notch. I imagine it’s a hard needle to thread (or arrow to split).

  2. June 11, 2010 at 12:35 pm #

    Their Wynonnas Big Brown Ale is good as well as Big Black Voodoo Daddy. I really enjoyed Pilzilla the one time I had it.

    • June 11, 2010 at 12:48 pm #

      I think I’ve seen the Wynonna’s Big Brown Ale in the past, but passed it over because of its cheesy Primus-inspired name. That won’t happen again!

  3. June 12, 2010 at 8:16 am #

    Well let me state that it’s good for a brown =) I’m not a super big fan of Brown Ales.


  1. Keep Your Summer Beers, Gimme Flavor! « Beer & Whiskey Brothers - June 30, 2010

    […] last couple of months as the weather has warmed.  I discovered the the excellent Voodoo Brewery Pilzilla, developed a hankering for Yuengling Lager, and have shared cans of Dale’s Pale Ale (a year […]

  2. Voodoo Love Child: Good Juju from Voodoo « Beer & Whiskey Brothers Blog - December 9, 2010

    […] golden, where there’s less malt and toastiness to hide behind?  Well, one try of their Pilzilla convinced me they could nail those too.  This was later confirmed when I had their Four Seasons […]

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