Pilsner Urquell Celebrates The Birth Of Golden Beer On October 5
Posted by Bob Skilnik on October 4, 2007
In 1842, a small brewery in Pilsen (Plzen), a town in western Bohemia, hired German brewer Josef Groll to replicate the lager style of beer that had become so popular in the German states. Taking advantage of a more sophisticated and controlled method of kilning malt, which gave the grain just the slightest hint of a golden hue, Groll oversaw the brewing operations at the brewery known today as Pilsner Urquell (Plzensky Prozdroj) and produced the world’s first pilsner (or Pilzner/Pilsener) beer.
The good folks at today’s Pilsner Urquell have designated October 5, 1842 as the exact date that Groll turned lager beer on its head (yes, pun intended). Groll’s creamy creation was described as a lager beer with brilliant clarity, somewhat lighter in body—and most unusual as compared with typical dark lager beers of the time—it was golden-colored. In the next few decades, this golden beer would sweep through Europe, making its way to Vienna in 1856, and Paris and London by 1862. Around 1871, the pilsner style of beer would jump the Atlantic to the shores of the U.S. and push its way westward where German-American brewers were especially receptive in emulating the chic style of this new European lager.
Through war and political change, the Czech Republic brewery has continued to ship its beer throughout the world, currently exporting to over 50 countries, including markets in Europe, North America, Australia, and Asia. Nearly 90% of the lager beer consumed today is a variation of this original golden beer.
My first experience with Pilsner Urquell was while I lived in West Germany. Since the village I lived in was not too far away from the border, it was easy to get my hands on this beer; better yet, it was usually in the draft version. While I thoroughly enjoyed the very malty beers of Bavaria, Pilsner Urquell has that nice snap from the locally-grown Saaz (Zatec) variety of hops, still considered by today’s lager brewers as one of the “noble” hops.
The folks at PR firm Weber Shandwick sent me a reminder of this momentous event with a nice cigar humidor, stuffed with two bottles of Pilsner Urquell and a few Limited Edition cigars from renowned cigar man Rocky Patel, a perfectionist when it comes to blending fine tobaccos, and a tobacco artist who takes great pride in offering the most rich-tasting, complex, and highest quality cigars imaginable. Stop by his site, the Rocky Patel Premium Cigar Company and see what he has to offer. If you’re a cigar smoker, I guarantee you’ll bookmark his site.
Since October 5 is a Friday, it looks like I’ll be hard at work tomorrow, enjoying a Rocky Patel cigar and a few Pilsner Urquells. Actually, 2 bottles won’t be enough so I’ll be ending this post and making my way to my favorite liquor store for another sixer of this great, great beer.
Why not do the same today or tomorrow and enjoy The pilsner beer that started it all?
Don’t forget. You can also read more about Pilsner Urquell and the rise of the pilsner style of beer in the U.S. in my latest book, Beer & Food: An American History.