“ Brand: Pilsner Urquell / Type: Lager „
For this review I thought I would leave my computer and go "on location" - when writing a review about the Czech Republic's most famous beer, it's really handy to be living down the road from one of best Pilsner pubs in the country!
"Hostinec U Blahovky" on Gorkeho, Brno is a small, old fashioned pub which seats perhaps twenty, and it's especially good during the summer, when there are some benches outside to stand at and enjoy the brew. The pub has won awards from the Pilsner brewery in the past for the quality of it's beer, and is certainly one of the most cherished places in Brno to go and sup a few crisp cold ones.
It's relatively expensive, charging 37czk for a half liter, compared to 23czk for a beer in another joint on the same street - that's a 50p difference in UK prices, which would be significant enough in Britain, but on Czech wages, that's quite an increase! You always expect to pay more for Pilsner, and this price hike keeps the riff raff away from Blahovka - it is frequented by a combination of a more affluent middle-aged set, who tend to stick to the smoky, wooden interior, and a smart younger set, who spill out over the pavement during the evenings, sitting on curbs, using cars as makeshift tables, and standing in the street.
So why is this tiny old man's pub on a Brno side street so popular? Simple - the beer's about as good as you'll find it, and if anyone can recommend me a better place in Brno, I'll be glad to hear it! Blahovka is one of the best examples of a 'Tankovna' pub in the city, and indeed the whole of the Czech Republic.
Using the tank process, beer is stored unpasteurized and then pumped out using high pressure air, ensuring it ends up in your glass absolutely fresh, with all the goodies that often get wiped out during a standard pasteurization process.
This means the beer you get is more full-bodied and complex flavoured, and the beer here is a thing of beauty - a tall head of frothy white foam, and confident clear amber Pilsner.
Pilsner Urquell (Plzensky Prazdroj in Czech) is, of course, the world's first "Pilsner" style beer, originating from the town of Plzen, about 90km west of Prague. The brewery there opened it's gates in 1842, producing a revolutionary bottom-fermented beer that was a refreshing answer to the darker beers of yore.
If you are visiting the Czech Republic and have some time to spare, it's really worth a visit to the brewery; it's quite a magnificent place, and the guided tour will take you into the cellars, where they still brew beer the old fashioned way, to make sure today's mechanized product still measures up to the original. Of course, the highlight of the tour is getting to actually sample the beer direct from huge wooden barrels, which are made especially onsite.
If this interests you, check out the dates for the Pilsner Fest - for a few days each year, the grounds of the brewery are converted into a huge beer-drinking, meat-eating festival, where city girls rub shoulders with farmers at long benches and celebrate everything Czech & Pilsner.
So, my beer's settled now, so here we are - yes, just as good as I remembered! Cold and pure, it slips down beautifully with that nice hoppy tang to it. There is a fragrant aroma, and a slightly bitter aftertaste - but the soft water used and the tank process means it's really clean tasting, and you never get any of that kind of "sticky" aftertaste in your mouth like you do sometimes with keg beers.
A few of these will do me for the day - Blahovka serve only 12 degree beer, which is fuller bodied and usually equates to around 5 percent alcohol in the UK, although it's far easier to drink than something like Stella or an equivalent strong lager.
My only real concern with Pilsner Urquell is just how ubiquitous it is becoming in the Czech Republic. It sounds a peculiar thing to worry about, the widespread availability of excellent, brewery approved beer; especially as the red stamp of Pilsner depicting the brewery gates also guarantees other things - professional, devoted bartenders, and usually very credible Czech pub grub.
It's just everywhere these days, becoming like the Czech equivalent of Starbucks - spreading over the country, setting up franchises, kicking out smaller (usually inferior) pubs serving smaller beers. And while the Pilsner pubs are always pleasant places to have a few, they're fairly standard - clean, modern versions of the traditional Czech pub, complete with brass vat topped bar area and your usual black and white photos of vintage beer trucks.
Perhaps that's also why Blahovka remains so popular, as it still remains traditional while serving up lovely half liters of perfect beer. Although this new generation of pubs does give me an opportunity to watch the barmen - usually stout, middle-aged sorts in leather aprons, they pump beer with a quiet, dignified attention to duty I would imagine an old railway signalman might. They seem to feel a real duty of care to each beer and to it's eventual recipient. I could even imagine if the pub was on fire, these same barmen calmly pumping out the rest of the tank, bowling the half liters across the counter to the waiters, who would escort the precious beer outside to a safe distance, then go back for more, until every last drop was safe!
Some old geezer walks by and flobs up on the pavement nearby - one of the less attractive sights common in the Czech Republic - and disrupts my Hrabal-esque reverie; yeah, you're right, it probably wouldn't happen like that. But they probably would take one outside with them to drink while they watched the place burn down...
I went to the Czech Republic last year and this was the main beer in the pubs. I had not even heard of it before but i thought i would give it a go. So i went to the bar and in my broken Czech ordered a Pilsner. It came in a 1 litre glass with a MASSIVE head.
It was very strong out of the pumps there as well (12%, whereas Carling is just 4.1%) however you could not tell by the taste that it was so strong.
It has a much crisper, fresher taste than the lagers widely available in English pubs.
The only problem with this beer is i have not seen it once since i came back from Prague which is a shame!!!
Urquell means 'original source' and PILSNER URQUELL is indeed the original pilsner beer. Of course it has been much copied - usually by lesser, blander beers - throughout the world. In 1838, the burghers of Plzen (Pilsen in German), in the Czech Republic, decided to brew the new bottom fermented beer. Joseph Grolle, a young Bavarian brewmaster was hired for the purpose and, in 1842, the first pilsen lager was produced. Bavarian lagers tended to be dark or amber, but the Pilsen version was deep golden and crystal clear - due to the extremely pale Bohemian malt used in the process and the limestone content of the local water - thus was born the world's first light lager. The beer's clear golden colour made it a novelty when first introduced but the beer's quality is what has made it a lasting success. The Bohemian Saaz hop gives the beer it's flowery, spicy aroma and somewhat bitter finish while the Moravian barley gently balances it. Add to this the local, soft, mineral-rich water, and we have one of the world's great beers. For more information: http://www.pilsner-urquell.com ____________________________________________________________ Right....I'll pour the beer, you read the joke. Jock was out working the field when a plane landed. "I'll give you an airplane ride for £5," said the pilot. "Sorry, cannae afford it," replied Jock. "Tell you what," said the pilot, "I'll give you and your wife a free ride if you promise not to yell. Otherwise it'll be £10." So up they went and the pilot rolled, looped, stalled and did all he could to scare Jock. Nothing worked and the defeated pilot finally landed the plane. Turning around to the rear seat he said, "Gotta hand it to you. For country folk you sure are brave!" "Aye," said Jock "But ye nearly had me there when the wife fell oo
t!" Here's another.... In the middle of foggy night in the NW Atlantic.....two lights are heading directly for one another. Over the radio an American voice is heard saying "we suggest you alter course by 10 degrees". Back comes the reply "No! YOU change course" Then the American voice says, "This is the battleship USS Missouri leading the American Atlantic battle fleet, you had better alter course by 10 degrees. OR ELSE!" Back comes the reply "Aye.. well this is the Hebrides lighthouse, but it's your call, Jimmy" ____________________________________________________________ Where was I... * THE POUR * Pilsner Urquell pours to a clear rich, golden colour with only the meerest trace of amber. The head is white, thick, creamy and long lasting with excellent lacing. On the nose, there's a mild sulphurous note with a little toasted malt and some grassy tones. There's a woody, smoky quality to it as well, an almost hickory, barbecue-type aroma. However, the overwhelming sensation is of fresh Saaz hops. Floral, spicy and earthy, this beer has a real harvest-time aroma. * THE TASTE * Medium bodied, it's immediately crisp, sharp and refreshing, with a good hop taste upfront. There's a spicy, lemon tea-like flavour with a slightly sweet malt, burnt toast taste in the background. The malt also imparts a buttery, caramel flavour before the beer finishes somewhat bitter and decidely dry. * THE VERDICT * At 4.4% ABV, it's not the strongest of the style - most pilsners being around the 5% mark - but this only means you can drink more of this before you start talking rubbish. Of course some people may already have a head start on that one! Pilsner is not my favourite style of beer but this is certainly one of the best pilsners on the market. Served suitably chilled, this is a great thirst
quencher and a very satisfying beer. It compliments all types of food so it makes a good choice for a BBQ, but it's also a nice enough beer for just plain drinking. Would I drink it again? You bet! Especially if someone would fund a fact-finding mission to Plzen to do so! This beer is widely available in bottled form in most supermarkets here in the UK, and it tastes fine, but I drank this on tap recently in the Czech Republic and it was as you'd expect, so much better on draught. Thanks for reading, Na Zrdaví
In pastel coloured Prague beer is served in plain glasses by jowl cheeked men with mullets, while through once grey streets gorgeous facades coat elaborate interiors. Such is definitely the case with one of the worlds most imitated originals, Pilsner Urquell.
The epitome of Czech brewing expertise, Pilsner Urquell was crafted by visionaries back in 1842 as the antithesis of the dark, cloudy beers that had previously enjoyed a monopoly born of benign ignorance. The new golden beer, originally called Plzensky Pivo (Pilsner Beer) after the town in which it was brewed, spawned countless originals, eventually requiring a change of name to Pilsner Urquell, which literally translates as "Pilsner from the original source." From a collective facility in a Bohemian backwater to the largest brewery in all of Europe at the outbreak of World War 1, production at the Plzen Brewery suffered seventy years of turmoil and neglect prior to its recent resurgence. Now the flagship beer of South African Breweries, Pilsner Urquell is exported to more than fifty countries and has won numerous awards including World Champion Beer, Beer of the Year, Le Mondial de la Bierre and the Gold Mercury Award.
With a fragrant, ever so slightly sweet aroma, Pilsner Urquell evokes images of grain and flowers, packed earth and Bohemian sky. The white head loiters briefly before dissipating into a thin lace of froth that slides slothfully down the glass. The luxuriant taste, which is decidedly malty as a result of the innovative triple-decoction mashing method used during the brewing process, manages to be at once luxuriantly mellow and wonderfully full. A hint of bitterness accompanies a buttery sensation, the latter derived from the presence of diacetyl in the mix. Best served chilled in order to complement the striking clarity and flavour-as crisp as the break of dawn over the Charles Bridge in winter-this is a true world classic,
with the combination of soft water drawn from special Artesian wells, native hops from the Zatec region and a closely guarded secret strain of yeast smuggled out of Bavaria by a monk in 1840 elevating this far, far above its many competitors. Gone all too quickly, the beer leaves a slightly bitter aftertaste and a powerful thirst for more of the same.
If you're unfortunate, and enough people are to warrant a mention here, your Pilsner Urquell experience will be dimmed somewhat by light and distance. Like Guinness, there is a widely held perception that the further away from the original source, the lower the quality of the beer. Furthermore, the retention of the distinctive green bottles, while in keeping with the brewery's tradition, leaves the beer all too susceptible to the diminishing effects of strong light. Thankfully, Pilsner Urquell is increasingly available on draught in some of Britain's better bars with prices starting at not much more than you'd pay for a Stella Artois. Bottles can be found in most good supermarkets, Asda in particular has 660ml bottles on sale for one pound sixty four. The alcohol content is 4.4%.
Czechs, who if you didnt know have the highest per capita consumption of alcohol in the world, know their beer, and Pilsner Urquell ranks right up there with the finest of both its domestic-Budvar and Staropramen-and international rivals. I've drunk this beer with a wide variety of meals from Chinese takeaways to Czech dumplings and it never fails to impress as a wonderful accompaniment. Soft, clear, crisp, original, mellow, magnificent, gorgeous, what are you waiting for?
Description: First Pilsner in the world. Brewer: Pilsner Urquell, a.s. Style: Bohemian Pilsener. Alcohol Content: 4.4%