Pilsner Urquell Brewery Tours from Prague
This tour is a must for beer fans! Pilsen’s history is closely associated with beer. The light “lager beer” was “born” in Pilsen (Plzeň in Czech) during 1842 and became known as “pilsner.” It did not only become famous as a brand, but also as a type of beer. Since it was introduced to the beer world, pilsner has gained worldwide acclaim. During this tour you will not only visit the Pilsner Urquell Brewery and taste the golden Pilsner Urquell beer, but you will also explore the Old Town section of Pilsen, which boasts the tallest cathedral in the country.
The Original "Pilsner"
Originally Pilsner was a specific term for beers brewed in Plzeň (with Pilsner Urquell being registered as a trademark by the first brewery). The term has come to mean any pale, hoppy lager as a result of imitations of the original beer, especially in Germany where the style is common. There is currently a trademark dispute between the German copy "Budweiser" (Anheuser-Busch "St. Louis, Missouri") and the original "Budweiser Budvar Brewery".
Czech Pilsner: golden, full of colors, with high foaminess and lighter flavor:
Pilsner Urquell, Gambrinus, Kozel, Svijany, Staropramen, Radegast
European Pilsner: has a slightly sweet taste, can be produced from other than barley malt - Dutch: Amstel, Grolsch, Heineken or Belgian: Jupiler, Stella Artois
Pilsner (also pilsener or simply pils) is a type of pale lager which accounts for more than two-thirds of the beer produced in the world. It takes its name from Plzeň (Pilsen in German), a city in Bohemia, then in the Austrian Empire, now in the Czech Republic, where it was first produced in 1842. The world’s first blond lager, the original Pilsner Urquell, is still produced there today.
The City of Pilsen began brewing in 1295, but until the mid-1840s, most Bohemian beers were top-fermented. The taste and standards of quality often varied widely, and in 1838, consumers dumped whole barrels to show their dissatisfaction. The officials of Pilsen founded a city-owned brewery in 1839, called Měšťanský pivovar Plzeň (English: Citizens' Brewery - now Pilsner Urquell), which was to brew beer in the pioneering Bavarian style. Brewers had begun aging beer made with bottom-fermenting yeasts in caves (lager), which improved the beer's clarity and shelf-life. Part of this research benefited from the knowledge already expounded on in a book (printed in German in 1794, in Czech in 1799), written by Czech brewer František Ondřej Poupě (Ger: Franz Andreas Paupie) (1753–1805) from Brno.
The Pilsen brewery recruited the Bavarian brewer Josef Groll (1813–1887) who, using new techniques and paler malts, presented his first batch of pilsner on 5 October 1842. The combination of brighter malt prepared by English technology, Pilsen's remarkably soft water, local Saaz noble hops from nearby Žatec and Bavarian-style lagering produced a clear, golden beer that was regarded as a sensation. Groll returned to Vilshofen, three years later in 1845, and there later inherited his father's brewery.
Emergence of efficient glass manufacturing in Europe, around the same time, lowered glass prices. This allowed the general population to purchase glass drinking vessels for the first time. These former luxury items showcased the visually pleasing golden clarity of the recently invented Bohemian style, further influencing the pilsner's rapid dissemination.
In 1853 the beer was available in 35 pubs in Prague, in 1856 came to Vienna and in 1862 to Paris. Improving transport and communications also meant that this new beer was soon available throughout Europe, and the Pilsner style of brewing was soon widely imitated. In 1859, “Pilsner Bier” was registered as a brand name at the Chamber of Commerce and Trade in Pilsen. In 1898, the Pilsner Urquell trade mark was created to put emphasis on being the original brewery.
Pilsner Urquell (IPA: [ˈpɪlznɐ ˈʔuːɐ̯ˌkvɛl], Czech: Plzeňský prazdroj IPA: [ˈpl̩.zɛɲskiː ˈprazdroj]), is a Czech lager brewed in Plzeň, Czech Republic by Pilsner Urquell Brewery. Pilsner Urquell is the world’s first-ever pilsner type blond lager, making it the inspiration for much of the beer produced in the world today, many of which are named pils, pilsner and pilsener. It is hopped with Saaz hops, a noble hop variety which is a key element in its flavor profile, as is the use of soft water and fire-brewing. It is available in 330 ml, 355 ml and 500 ml aluminium cans and green or brown bottles.
Almost all draught Pilsner Urquell is packaged in kegs and dispensed under carbon dioxide pressure but small quantities are available unpasteurized, unfiltered and naturally conditioned in cask in the Czech Republic and in very limited amounts in Germany, the United Kingdom, the United States, Sweden, Hungary and Austria. Pilsner Urquell is exported in bottles and cans to North America and other regions.
As the name suggests, ("Urquell" in German or "Prazdroj" in Czech both mean "the ancient source") Pilsner Urquell is the original pilsner and first pale lager beer. It is characterized by its golden color and clarity and was immensely successful – nine out of ten beers produced and consumed in the world are derived from the original Pilsen beer. Before 1840, the standard beer in Bohemia was top-fermented and characterized by a dark color, turbidity, and inconsistent quality. Plzeň burghers had not found this satisfying and the Plzeň city council ordered 36 casks to be dumped. They invested in a new, state-of-the art brewery, the Bürgerbrauerei (Town brewery, Měšťanský pivovar in Czech), and commissioned Josef Groll, a Bavarian brewer, to develop a better beer. On 5 October 1842, Groll had an entirely new mash ready and on 11 November 1842, the new beer was first served at the feast of Saint Martin markets.
Bürgerbrauerei registered Pilsner Bier B B brand in 1859. In 1898, they also registered Original Pilsner Bier 1842, Plzeňský pramen, Prapramen, Měšťanské Plzeňské, Plzeňský pravý zdroj and finally Pilsner Urquell and Plzeňský Prazdroj which are in use today.
Pilsner Urquell is today brewed in two breweries; in the Pilsen brewery and in Kaluga, Russia. It was brewed between 2002 and 2011 in Tychy in Poland.
Pilsner Urquell Brewery
Plzeňský prazdroj a.s. (pronounced [ˈpl̩zɛɲskiː ˈprazdroj a ɛs], German: Pilsner Urquell) is a Czech brewery founded in 1842 and headquartered in Plzeň, Czech Republic. It is the first brewery to produce pilsener blond lager style beer, branded Pilsner Urquell, making it the inspiration for more than two-thirds of the beer produced in the world today, which are named pils, pilsner and pilsener. Both Plzeňský Prazdroj and Pilsner Urquell can be roughly translated into English as "the Fountainhead at Pilsen" or "the original source of Pilsner".
The brewery has been part of the SABMiller group of companies (at the time South African Breweries) since 1999. As part of the agreements made with regulators before Anheuser-Busch InBev was allowed to acquire SABMiller in October 2016, Pilsner Urquell - excluding certain geographical areas - was sold to Asahi Breweries of Japan on December 13, 2016; the deal is expected to close during the first half of 2017.
The brewery was founded in 1839 by both local Czech-speaking and German-speaking citizens in Bohemian city of Plzeň as Bürgerbrauerei (citizens' brewery, later translated to Měšťanský pivovar in Czech). The first beer was brewed here in 1842 by Bavarian brewer Josef Groll. In 1859, “Pilsner Bier” was registered as a brand name at the local Chamber of Commerce and Trade. In 1869, a competitor was founded as a joint stock company, later known as Gambrinus. In 1898 the German trademark Urquell and Czech trademark Prazdroj were created, to underline the claim of being the older, original source of Pilsner beer. In 1932 Měšťanský pivovar merged with Plzeňské aciové pivovary. In 1946, the brewery was nationalized under the name Plzeňské pivovary (Pilsen breweries).
After the fall of communism in late 1989, the brewery was turned into a public share company, then renamed in 1994 after the Czech name of their famous beer, Plzeňský Prazdroj. In 1999, they started to merge with Pivovar Radegast a.s. and Pivovar Velké Popovice a. s..
The brewery has been part of the SABMiller group of companies (at the time South African Breweries) since 1999. It has been the largest exporter of beer produced in the Czech Republic since 2000 when production surpassed that of Budějovický Budvar. In 2016, the company was sold to Asahi Group Holdings of Japan.
A brewery museum ("Pivovarské muzeum") has been set up near the brewery in the authentic medieval brewing house with malt house, which has been declared a cultural monument. It includes the late Gothic malt house, kiln, original drying shed and two-level laying-down cellars with ice-cellar, which are hewn from the Pilsen substrata. The exhibition covers Pilsen's most ancient history, the development of crafts, the emergence and growth of the guilds, the beginnings and development of brewing, malting, the craft of cooper, haulage and catering.
The tour includes a replica of a pub from the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries and a laboratory from the second half of the 19th century. The city walls have been opened with an example of the cultivation of barley and hops. The museum has become an anchor for the European Route of Industrial Heritage.
Beer in Pilsen
Pilsner Fest is a 2-day beer festival held each year by the brewery, with music by local bands on 4 stages in the town of Plzen!
Pilsner Urquell was the first "pilsner" type beer in the world. In 1842, a brewery in Plzeň employed Josef Groll, a German brewer who was experienced in the Bavarian lager method of making beer. Beer in Pilsen at the time was not of very good quality and they needed to compete. Groll developed a golden Pilsner beer, the first light colored beer ever brewed. It became an immediate success, and was exported all over the Austrian Empire. A special train of beer travelled from Plzeň to Vienna every morning. Exports of Czech beer reached Paris and the United States by 1874.
Today, beers made at Plzeňský Prazdroj are: Pilsner Urquell, Gambrinus, and Primus.
- 1295 City of Pilsen established, beginnings of brewing.
- 1307 First recorded mention of the existence of an actual brewery with malt house.
- 1839 Burghers in Pilsen decide to found the Burgess' Brewery (Bürgerbrauerei, Měšťanský pivovar)
- September 15, 1839 – autumn 1840 Construction of the Burgess' Brewery, forerunner of today's brewery.
- October 5, 1842 First brew of Bavarian type beer, bottom-fermented beer, so-called pale lager.
- March 1, 1859 "Pilsner Bier" brand name registered at the Chamber of Commerce and Trade in Pilsen.
- 2nd half of 19th century Brewery expands in Europe, first exports from Pilsen to America.
- 1869 Competitor founded as First Stock Brewery (První akciový pivovar), today known as Gambrinus.
- 1898 New Urquell - Prazdroj trade mark created.
- 1910 Světovar - Český Plzeňský pivovar akciové společnosti v Plzni.
- 1913 Output over 100 million litres of beer, commercial representation in 34 countries.
- 1925 - 1933 Merger of several Pilsen breweries.
- 1933 Two breweries remain in Pilsen: Měšťanský pivovar and Plzeňské akciové pivovary (PAP), with the majority of PAP shares being owned by Měšťanský pivovar.
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