Brewed by Plzensky Prazdroj (SABMiller)
Style: Czech Pilsner (Světlý)
Plzen, Czech Republic
Plzeňský prazdroj a.s. (German: Pilsner Urquell) is the daddy of all pils, pilsners and pilsener, or whatever you want to call it. Founded in 1842 and headquartered in Plzeň, located in the western half of the Czech Republic, in what was formerly the kingdom of Bohemia. It was the first brewery to produce a pilsner type blond lager, branded Pilsner Urquell, making it the World’s most imitated beer. Both Plzeňský Prazdroj and Pilsner Urquell can be roughly translated into English as “the Fountainhead at Pilsen” or “the ancient source of Pilsner”.
Brewing in this region dates back hundreds, if not thousands, of years. From the early Slavs in the first century to Bohemians who were brewing beer by 1088. In 1295 the City of Pilsen was established, and with it the beginnings of brewing, and in 1307 we have the first historical recorded mention of the existence of an actual brewery with malt house.
Before 1840, the standard beer in Bohemia was top-fermented and characterized by a dark colour and a quality that had been deteriorating . Around 250 Plzeň burghers (a citizen of a town or city, typically a member of the wealthy bourgeoisie, and more importantly citizens who held the legal right to brew beer in Pilsen) had not found the local brews satisfying and the Plzeň city council ordered 36 barrels of bad beer smashed and emptied into the street, right in front of City Hall. That’s some drain pour!
They then invested (in 1839) in a new, state-of-the art citizen run brewery, the Bürgerbrauerei (Citizens’ Brewery or Měšťanský pivovar in Czech), and hired Josef Groll, a master Bavarian brewer, to develop a better beer using new techniques to produce pale malted barley. He used local Czech hops, he took the soft water of Plzen, and chose a lager yeast. A new beer was born, the world’s first golden lager. On 5 October 1842, Groll had an entirely new mash ready and on 11 November 1842, the new pale looking beer was first served at the feast of Saint Martin markets.
The brewery was later renamed Plzensky Prazdroj, meaning “original source of Pilsener” in Czech
The beer was a sensation: the world’s first golden lager, unlike anything most beer drinkers at the time had ever seen.
The new beer was characterized by its golden colour, a light body, and was very smooth to drink and was an instant success – in a world that was accustomed only to dark, heavy, cloudy imported lagers.
And then, of course, there was the taste. It is hopped with Saaz hops, a noble hop variety which is a key element in its flavour profile. The hops are grown in the nearby Zatec (German: Saaz) region of Bohemia. This hop is used extensively in Bohemia to flavor beer styles such as the Czech pilsener.
Its popularity soared. It was an immediate success and a proud moment for the city of Plzen. Wasting no time, on the first of March 1859 the “Pilsner Bier” was registered as a brand name at the local Chamber of Commerce and Trade.
Since that day the recipe has remained the same. Within a couple of decades it was being exported around the world, and by 1913, the brewery was the largest brewery in Europe
Surviving through the turmoil of two world wars, and communism (the brewery was nationalized in 1945), today it’s part of the global brewing giant SABMiller, and is currently the largest exporter of beer produced in the Czech Republic
Review: Bottle of Pilsner Urquell ABV: 4.4%
Coming in a nice green bottle and with classy looking labelling. There’s an attractive red seal stating that this is the “The Original Pilsner”, just so you dont get mixed up with all those cool Czech beers on the market. This one is the original, make no doubt about it!
On pour a light golden yellow colour shows and when it all settles nicely we get a good looking beer with a nice frothy white head that does stick around
This beer is alive, a good bit of carbonation, buzzing about. Some lacing as well. Definitely looks the part………….
The aroma was a real lovely beery smell, floral hops, malts and lager yeast, nice on the nose………
Interesting taste, piercing taste throughout
Hoppy aftertaste which is a bit overbearing to be honest
Bit of caramel as well
Not what I was expecting at all. Has definite unique tastes and flavours, more like an ale than a soft lager……………Tasty, but I am not a fan, too skunky
Bit surprised as was expecting a better taste, since this beer has a reputation as a “top beer”, dont know if this is down to the acquisition by SAB Miller, or maybe due to the green bottles, or perhaps this does not travel well, but I am sure the draft version would be better. I guess i might actually have to go and visit Plzen itself to sample the good stuff!