Pilsner Plzen Czech Republic Urquell Saaz hops

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The purest pilsner
Food article / commentary

Reviewed By

Sue Dyson and Roger McShane
Country: Czech Republic

If there is one thing sure to get the purists outraged it is a change in tradition. In the wine industry it is only the brave or the very foolish who advocate replacing corks with the more appropriate Stelvin caps. Food purists would never consider making a rouille with a blender.
And yet, the brewers at the Pilsner Urquell brewery in the Czech Republic town of Plzen now lager their golden brew in stainless steel tanks rather than the traditional wooden barrels lined with tar. The purists swear that it has reduced the complexity of the beer.
So why the outrage? It is probably because it is the most outstanding example of a pure Pilsner in the world, and nobody wants to see such a beautiful drink become diminished in any way.
The history of beer from this Czech Republic town starts when the fabled King Wenceslas moved the town to a more favourable location and thanked those who moved there by granting them the right to brew beer and sell it from their houses.
In the ensuing centuries the locals cooperated to share the burden of brewing, culminating in a decision by about 200 people to establish a ‘Burghers Brewery' in 1842 on the banks of the Radburza River. They employed a difficult, but brilliant, brewer from Bavaria called Josef Groll, and it is he who is credited with developing the technique of making the alluring, clear, golden, complex brew that we now know.
Pilsner Urquell is still regarded by many as the greatest in the world. Some of the factors that contribute to it appealing aroma, its complex, bitter flavour and its crystalline clearness are the water, the barley, the brewing technique and the lagering.
The water is exceptional. It is some of the softest water to be found anywhere. Many sing the praises of the water at Burton in England, but this leaves it for dead! The barley used for the malt is sourced locally and from nearby Moravia. The bitterness is added through the renowned Saaz hops. The triple-decoction mashing ensures that the yeast can do its work. Finally it is lagered in large steel vats for up to 40 days before bottling.
So, next time you see a bottle of Pilsner Urquell grab it. Sit back relax and then enjoy the complex bitterness and full, round, clean flavour that will make you wonder why you don't have one every day!

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