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Holsten Pilsner – a beer from Hamburg or not?!

A bottle of Holsten Pilsener beer from Germany together with a glass.

The Holsten beer brand is famous for its Pilsner style beer. It is mainly consumed in Hamburg and the Northern region of Germany. It is hard to find a Holsten beer in Bavaria. Yet, Holsten Pilsener stands for a typical German Pilsner beer.

Holsten is one of those beer brands of Germany best known for its Pilsner style beer. Despite the fact that the Holsten brewery does not exist anymore since closing down in 2014, Holsten Pilsner is still produced and available on the German beer market. The Holsten brewery, or let’s better say the Holsten-Brauerei AG (corporate group), was a victim of a strategy it had once successfully applied itself: acquiring other breweries and expanding. Nothing is left today, but the name – and, of course, a Pilsner style beer, we had to review as one of the famous German beers.


Holsten Pilsner is one of the German Pilsner beer brands you will probably have heard of.

For the Holsten brewery, business started in 1879.

Unlike other large German breweries, often starting their history in small local breweries, the Holsten brewery was intended to be a real large business right from the beginning. In 1879, some investors founded the Holsten-Brauerei AG as a corporate group in the town of Altona, yes, Altona. In those days, Altona did not yet belong to the city of Hamburg, but the Holsten brewery was able to grow to the leading brewery of the Hamburg region. Looking for new business areas, the company also started to produce export beer and sold it on international markets. By the way, Holsten opened a branch in Wandsworth / UK called “The Holsten Brewery Ltd.” in 1903. Acquisitions kept going on in the following year, and even WW1 was not able to halt the companies intentions of brewery consolidation in Northern Germany. Brewing facilities were now located in the cities of Hamburg and Kiel as well as in a town called Neumünster.
After WW2 having all three breweries destroyed, the Holsten brewery modernized its brewery production and continued to grow. The 1950s also meant the revival of the export relationship with Britain and Holsten beer brand being the first to introduce the beer can to Germany.

The Holsten brewery today – the competition issue.

Did you know that the Holsten brewery was the first German one to sell beer in cans? This was back in 1952. Germans would never have thought of drinking beer from a can. The beer can was however one of the issues related to the brewery’s downfall some 50 years later.

The logo of the Holsten brewery, founded in Altona, hasn't changed. Today, Altona is a district of Hamburg. The Holsten brewery was taken over by larger competitors and does not exist anymore. The brand, however, survived.

The logo of the Holsten brewery, founded in Altona, hasn’t changed. Today, Altona is a district of Hamburg. The Holsten brewery was taken over by larger competitors and does not exist anymore. The brand, however, survived.

During the last years of the Holsten-Brauerei AG, the group tried to retain its position by buying more and more breweries in the course of brewing industry consolidation in Germany. The problem was: some of the acquired beer brands were strong competitors for their own Holsten beer brand. Strong competition is usually a problem and that also applies if you own your competitor. Furthermore, company management invested in new beer can filling machines, although it was obvious that beer can sales would decline due to the introduction of a can deposit by law.


In Germany, beer cans lost popularity after government had introduced a law making deposits on cans mandatory.

In 2004, the Carlsberg A/S group took over the Holsten-Brauerei AG with all its beer brands like Holsten, Astra or Moravia Pils. By 2014, the company had been phased out, with some of its employees taken over by Carlsberg Deutschland Markengesellschaft. The story of the company finally came to an end in an official sense. A sad story, but one thing remained: Holsten Pilsener! It is still produced and well-known internationally. So it was clear to us that we had to give Holsten Pilsener a try and write a review for you!

The Holsten beer range today.

Besides Holsten Pilsener, there are numerous beers sold with the Holsten brand. The Holsten logo, being a knight riding a horse, hasn’t changed throughout the years!

  • Holsten Pilsener
  • Holsten Extra Herb (Pilsener with more bitterness)
  • Holsten Alkoholfrei (non-alcoholic beer)
  • Holsten Export
  • Holsten Edel
  • Holsten Radler (beer mix with lemonade)
  • Holsten Brauwelt Pale Ale (craft beer style)
  • Holsten Brauwelt Märzen

By the way, Holsten Pilsener is still sold in cans in post-can deposit Germany! Yet, we personally favor beer bottles as the more traditional way for German beers.

Holsten Pilsener – The Data.

  • Alcohol content: 4.8 % ABV
  • Calories: 40 kcal / 100 ml
  • Ingredients: Water, Barley Malt, Hops


Find out more about German Pilsner Beer!

Holsten Pilsener - Our Review


It was a small bottle of Holsten Pilsener (0.33 l bottle) we had. Just enough for one beer glass. That was no problem, since we only wanted to taste Holsten Pilsener and not have the full volume. It has a rather pale color, while delivering consistent froth. Bitter, fruity and complex - that is how we both independently from each other described the taste of Holsten Pilsener. It is an intensive taste, like you want a Pils style beer to be. Wonderful! The bitterness is only short in the aftertaste, but that is rather a benefit in this case. We experienced Holsten Pilsener as a really good beer and are looking forward to trying more beers from the Holsten brand.

  • Taste
  • Beer Froth
  • Bitterness
  • Color
  • Overall Impression

*We tasted this beer with 2 persons and the rating reflects only our personal impression, which we discussed after tasting the beer. The beer was cooled to the recommended temperature for the relevant beer type prior to testing. You may have a different taste and come to other results.

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Further Pilsner Beer Reviews!

Flensburger Pilsener is an old beer brand from Flensburg in Northern Germany. Check it out and get to know the Flensburger beer range.
Holsten Pilsener
As a famous Pilsner style beer Holsten Pilsener is worth reviewing. Read our beer review on Holsten!
Jever Pilsener
Jever Pilsener is a typical intensive Pilsner style beer from Germany. Here’s the review.
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