Pilsner Urquell was being imported to the U.S. by 1873, three years before Eberhard Anheuser and Adolphus Busch launched their American Budweiser, and it had become the best-selling imported beer in the U.S. by the time Prohibition darkened our taverns in 1920. At first, the sale of Pilsner Urquell to Asahi sounded like it might mean the end of those welcome improvements. Der breite Deckel aus feinporigem Schaum verleiht dem Bier Geschmeidigkeit und versiegelt seinen vollmundigen Geschmack. You might see Nazis, Communists, Prussians, and even Americans waltz through your gates like kings at various points in time. It is a unique beer, with a one-of-a-kind backstory that only comes after almost two centuries. PERFECTLY POURED THE CZECH WAY There are three ways to pour Pilsner Urquell. “I have to take care of my little old ladies, as well as my young beer geeks, as well as the factory worker wanting a draft after work. He adds that he’s partly been keeping Pilsner Urquell on full-time because he likes to drink it himself. See what I mean? “It’s a significant investment, that cold chain, and we’re sticking with it,” says Schmid, who recently greenlighted the latest set of Pilsner Urquell’s historic can designs, due out later this year. Right before its 175th birthday party, the brewery was forced to change hands as part of the AB InBev takeover of SABMiller, ultimately ending up as part of Asahi after a convoluted bidding process that included Mitt Romney’s former company, Bain Capital. The good news? If you serve it with 10 other pilsners in a blind tasting, you can always tell which one is Pilsner Urquell.”, “I know this is true, because they once made me do it live on German TV.”. “We’re currently growing in the 5-10% range, and that’s kind of a nice place for us to be,” Schmid says. After I published Good Beer Guide Prague & the Czech Republic in 2007, I kept encountering incorrect stories about the brewery, which caused me to spend a lot of time studying the brewery’s history in various dusty archives around the Czech Republic. In those joints, Pilsner is usually sold as a high-end brew. When the brand first launched in the U.S. in the early 1870s, it surprisingly tapped Racine, Wisconsin, for its New World launch. It stands out. “We keep trucking in the US, we keep moving forward as if nothing’s changed, because in many ways it hasn’t.”. That pales in comparison to the worst calamities the brewery has seen over time, like being bombed—by the Allies, no less—repeatedly during WWII, or simply having beer writers get the brewery’s history wrong—over and over again. Pilsner Urquell is a lager beer brewed by the Pilsner Urquell Brewery in Plzeň (former German name: Pilsen), Czech Republic. “They’re snazzy as hell, man.”. Your Go-To Resource for Beer. “It’s never going to be the million-hectoliter brand, we don’t think, but if we can stay true to ourself, we’re going to do fine.”. Part of the unfamiliarity comes from the crowded current beer landscape in the U.S. Part of it is due to a remarkable number of setbacks the brewery has suffered throughout its history. [Thanks to Pilsner Urquell and Mark Dredge for organizing the trip that brought GBH founder Michael Kiser to the Czech Republic a couple years ago. Similarly, Pilsner Urquell has gained a more recent foothold in many of the new, European-style beer halls in America, places like Radegast Hall in Brooklyn, Pilsener Haus in Hoboken, and the Queen Anne Beerhall in Seattle. Much of the recent growth came after changes were made with the modern American market in mind. I wrote a long blog post listing the mistakes in the Czech entries of The Oxford Companion to Beer, many of which were about Pilsner Urquell, and wrote another three posts about the founding of the brewery in Pilsen back in 2012, including the first English translation of the brewery’s original founding document of 1839, as well as posts on the intentions of the Pilsen brewery founders (including their backgrounds—contrary to many reports, they were predominantly Czech, not German), and a list of other mistakes and misunderstandings about the brewery’s history. You might hear people complain your beer tastes like cardboard after 5,000 miles of unrefrigerated travel. With the aim to keep the true spirit of craftsmanship alive and thriving, Pilsner Urquell began brewing beer in 1842. Back in 1883, the brewery’s coopers were told to start making a new line of barrels in non-European sizes which they even called “Americans,” specifically intended for export to the U.S. market. Pilsner Urquell was the world's first pale lager, and its popularity meant it was much copied, and named pils, pilsner or pilsener. How, exactly, does a 175-year-old imported beer find its way in the modern American beer landscape? Respect Beer®. Similarly, the classic Prague hospoda U Šumavy currently offers eight rotating taps of beer from Czech microbreweries you’ve probably never heard of—and permanently sells both Pilsner Urquell and Budějovický Budvar, one of the two Budweisers that are actually brewed in the Czech town of Budweis. A “mug” of Pilsner Urquell at the Bohemian Hall and Beer Garden in Queens is $7, with Manhattan prices usually well over $8. Copyright © 1996-2020 BeerAdvocate®. By 1891, the board of directors were hailing the brewery’s great success in the U.S. which, by then, constituted 17% of Pilsner Urquell’s overseas sales. Search. Josef Groll developed a clear, crisp, aromatic and flavorful Pilsner Urquell. There’s something bizarre about a beer with a groundbreaking 175-year history that has to go around introducing itself. Nonconstructive reviews may be removed without notice and action may be taken on your account. After sampling the beer in cans, Rotello decided to get it on draft, which seemed to work well with his clientele of both the geeky and BMC-drinking varieties. | Respect Beer®. “It’s a great beer. These photos of the brewery and contracted hop farms would not have been possible without their help. “It’s an easy sideways sell for our Bud and Miller drinkers,” says Zak Rotello at his pub, the Olympic Tavern in Rockford, Illinois. ], Beer gear, Artwork, and Publications that’ll drive you to drink, Craft Beer Enters the Upside Down — A Design Analysis, Good Beer Guide Prague & the Czech Republic. In any case, that’s where Pilsner Urquell is in 2017, currently selling just a smidgen of its production into the U.S., though also experiencing relatively strong organic growth every year. Turn your rating into one with ≥ 150 characters. Urquell hits the mark very well in this respect, while bringing more flavor to the palate than one would expect while enjoying a pilsner. “ It’s an easy sideways sell for our Bud and Miller drinkers. Personally. Stick for the same amount of time and you’ll see a few things yourself. The brewery might have new owners, but Tenth and Blake remain the US importers, just as they were under SABMiller, and the same Pilsner Urquell reps who originally helped get things moving are still backing the brand today. Subdued apple esters, light buttery cracker flavor, slight bitterness in the finish. The latest? [A quick disclosure, while we’re on the topic: after my posts on the brewery’s history, SABMiller hired me to research and write several internal documents about the origins of the brewery, and asked me to give three talks about Czech beer culture and the founding of the brewery in the U.S. in late 2015. Pilsner Urquell was being imported to the U.S. by 1873, three years before Eberhard Anheuser and Adolphus Busch launched their American Budweiser, and it had become the best-selling imported beer in the U.S. by the time Prohibition darkened our taverns in 1920. (In its earlier, pre-refrigerated-shipping years, the beer sometimes had a nasty reputation for cardboard aromas among US drinkers, many of whom were shocked at how clean, crisp and delicious it was when sampled in its country of origin.)

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