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Czech Republic - Pilsner Urquell

DK PublishingDK Publishing 2/07/2014 DKBooks
© Provided by DKBooks

© Provided by DKBooks

© Provided by DKBooks

© Provided by DKBooks

© Provided by DKBooks

© Provided by DKBooks

© Provided by DKBooks

© Provided by DKBooks

© Provided by DKBooks

Pilsner Urquell

U Prazdroje 7, 304 97, Plzeň, Czech Republic

www.pilsner-urquell.cz

The Czechs have blessed us with the microwave oven, soft contact lenses, and beer that changed the world. It was, however, a Bavarian who was the key player in the Pilsner Urquell story. As a young brewer, Josef Groll presented the nation with its first pilsner on 4 October 1842. This sensational clear golden beer spread across Europe like wildfire from its “original source.”


Pilsner Urquell

beer style: Classic Pilsner
alcohol content: 4.4% ABV

The ideal one-and-a-half inch (35 mm) tight head leaves a lacing down the glass with every sip of spiced leaf and preserved fruit flavors, developing a sweet malt piquancy and long, enveloping finish.


The Story of … Pilsner Urquell

Pilsener, pilsner, or pils are the names often given to the most famous lager style in the world. And the birthplace of the world’s first bright golden beer is the city of Plzeň, in Bohemia, in the Czech Republic. Czech beers were brown in color and probably cloudy until 1842, when Josef Groll from Bavaria was contracted by the town of Plzeň to brew a beer for the new citizens’ brewery (the Plzeňský Prazdroj) which could rival a new style of copper-colored beers emerging from Vienna. He created a fresh, clear, gold beer, topped with a wispy, snow-white head. The lightness of the beer was made possible by advances in malting, in which direct heat from hot coals was replaced by a more controllable heat in the form of warm air, which enabled paler shades of malt to be produced.

It was given the name Pilsner Urquell (meaning from Plzeň, the original source) and the style has been mimicked, but rarely bettered, all over the world. A true pilsner, at 4.4% ABV, has a moderate amount of alcohol; typically most beers from continental Europe have an alcoholic strength of 5% ABV. The unfermented sugar in the beer contributes to its assertive richness. Today the Pilsner Urquell Brewery produces one in five of the Czech Republic’s beers and is its biggest exporter.

U Prazdroje 7, 304 97, Plzeň, Czech Republic


The brewery

Built on the bank of the Radbuza River, as this 19th-century panorama shows, the brewery stands on sandstone foundations that were carved out to create tunnels for cold storage, or lagering, of the beer. A maze of underground galleries contains more than 3,500 large pitch-lined oak casks, where very slowly in the cold, damp conditions the beer is matured from a precocious brew into one with a majestic fullness.


Steel fermenters

The beer was originally fermented in open vessels made of Bohemian oak. Today, steel fermenters are used, and Pilsner Urquell’s master brewer Václav Berkais is convinced that his predecessor Josef Groll would have used steel rather than wood had it been available.


Cold fermentation

Because it is cold fermented, the beer maintains more of its flavors from the spicy Žatec hops and sweet Bohemian or Moravian barley malt. The hops impart an especially fresh, herbal aroma, and contribute to a certain and classy finish.


Confidence and pride

The grandiose entrance to the brewery exudes a pride and confident swagger in the work that takes place inside. The cylindrical water tower holds supplies from the brewery’s own springs. This low sulfite, low carbonate water is ideal for making pilsner.


The brewing hall

Large, graceful, copper-colored vessels dominate the brewing hall. Pilsner Urquell uses a triple decoction mash in its brewing. Portions of the mash are drawn off at three different times, and each portion, or decoction, is heated, boiled briefly, then returned to the main mash. The process helps break down the complex carbohydrate in the malt into simpler fermentable sugars.


The museum and visitor center

The brewery is much more than a workplace. It also welcomes people to its visitor center, and offers a sensory exhibition of raw materials and an insight into how beer was brewed over 100 years ago in the on-site museum.


Stone cellars

The highlight for any visitor has to be a walk into one of the dimly lit, ice-cool sandstone cellars, where filtered and non-pasteurized Pilsner Urquell can be sampled straight from the barrel.

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