Lightly-flavored, delicately-balanced pilsner beers are amongst the most difficult for to brew at home. Most home brewers avoid attempting to brew pilsner, preferring instead to leave this style to the big brewers. If you want to give it a shot, though, with some practice and a lot of luck you could end up with your own delicious pilsner.
The basic ingredients for an American pilsner are barley, malt, corn or rice, hops, water and yeast. When brewing at home, it is of the utmost importance that all of your ingredients are fresh and of the highest quality. Pilsner is a lightly flavored beer and stale flavors from hops or malt will ruin your beer.
Choose a 6-row barley malt for your beer or a combination of 6-row with a little bit of 2-row malts. If you use only 6-row malts, your beer will have a more grainy flavor. Barley malt accounts for about 60 to 70 percent of the grain bill for your pilsner, with the remaining portion being rice or corn adjunct. Don't add any crystal or specialty malts to a pilsner.
Most American pilsners rely on corn as an adjunct, although some of the biggest brewers use rice. These adjuncts supply starch to the mash, which then degrades to sugars. You shouldn't be able to taste the adjuncts at all. At home, you can use flaked maize, corn grits or brewers corn syrup in your brew. The same options apply for rice.
Finish your beer recipe with a neutral hop blend and a lager yeast. The most important ingredient in your pilsner is soft water. Hard water will ruin your beer. The water you use in your brew should have as little flavor as possible.
Pilsner is difficult to brew at home because of its light flavor. The most important factor in the success of your beer is the quality of your ingredients. Even mildly stale hops or slightly hard water will give your beer an off flavor. If your pilsner tastes bad, try to identify which ingredient wasn't fresh and try again with fresh ingredients.