Product Type: Pilsner Urquell Beer
Newest Review: ... flavoured, and the beer here is a thing of beauty - a tall head of frothy white foam, and confident clear amber Pilsner. Pilsner Urquell ... more
Pilsner Urquell - A Thing of Beauty...
Pilsner Urquell Pale Lager
Member Name: LeeRobertAdams
Pilsner Urquell Pale Lager
Advantages: Crisp, cold, mellow, tangy, and clean tasting...a National treasure.
Disadvantages: The bottled stuff you get in the UK & abroad is a shadow of the unpasteurised tank beer.
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...
Summary: If you are spending time in Czech Republic & love beer, drink as much as you can!
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