Pilsner Lager: Learn what is Pilsner Beer and where to buy Pilsner Urquell Beer online
When Josef Groll first brewed Pilsner Urquell in 1842, he changed beer forever. Most beers in the world today are pilsner-style lagers. Keep reading and discover where does Pilsner Beer come from and where to buy Pilsner Urquell beer online.
The story of Pilsner origin sounds like a fairy tale. Read about Pilsner Urquell’s history, the secret Pilsner recipe and Pilsner Urquell ingredients.
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Pilsner Lager: Where to buy Pilsner beer online?
Pilsner Beer is produced in Pilsner Urquell Brewery in Plzeň. Pilsner Lager is available in cans, bottles, minikegs or kegs, you can also find alcohol free and gluten free beers in all Czechia grocery stores. Pilsner alcohol free beer (called Birell) is also available in different flavors, don´t miss the opportunity to buy Pilsner Beer during your visit to Czech Republic.
If you don´t have the chance to come to Czech Republic, you can even buy Pilsner Urquell online.
Pilsner Urquell: Buy online here »
How to store and drink Pilsner Urquell Beer?
A clean, cold and wet glass is the starting point of every pefectly poured Pilsner Urquell beer.
Why? The right temperature of beer is 6-8°C. The glass should be cold, so that the beer does not suffer a heat shock when contacted.
Not everyone knows that beer should be properly tapped into a wet glass. This contributes to the greater adhesion of beer to the walls of the glass.
Why should the right Czech beer Pilsner Urquell have foam?
Foam on the surface of beer has its importance - it protects beer from carbon dioxide leakage into the air and thus oxidation.
Store Pilsner Urquell beer in a clean and cold place without the access of sunlight in a constant temperature of 7°C. Ideally apart from food.
Pilsner Urquell beer should be drunk cold and covered by a foam.
If you would like to know what Pilsner beer is, the story of Pilsner Urquell origin and what is Pilsner beer made of, then keep reading:
- What is Pilsner Beer
- Pilsner Urquell: History
- What is Pilsner beer made of: Pilsner Urquell ingredients
- Czech Pilsner recipe and Pilsner brewing process
- Pilsner Urquell: calories
- Pilsner Urquell: alcohol content
- Difference between lager and pilsner: pilsner vs.lager
- Pilsen: the birthplace of Pilsner Urquell beer
1. What is Pilsner Beer?
Where does Pilsner beer come from? Pilsner Beer was born in Plzeň (Pilsen) Czech Republic. It is the original golden lager style beer which has been brewed in the Pilsner Urquell Brewery the same traditional way since 1842, when it was first made by master German brewer Josef Groll.
That is a very brief definition of Pilsner beer which you can find in every encyclopedia but fortunately the tale of Pilsner Beer’s origin is much more interesting.
Pilsner beer meaning
The first Pilsner beer in the world is known under its German name Pilsner Urquell: "Pilsner" means coming from Plzeň and Urquell means "the Original Source" in German language.
Pilsner Urquell beer
Pilsner Urquell beer is manufactured from special local Czech ingredients which are: Pilsen´s soft water, red hops from Žatec (the town in Czech Republic), malt and special brewer´s yeast. As the first pilsner style of blond lager, Pilsner Urquell beer gave the name Pils or Pilsener for all bottom fermented lagers and created the inspiration for the majority (70%) of the beer produced in the world today.
You can be sure that if you buy Pilsner Urquell Beer anywhere in the world, it was produced in Pilsner Urquell Brewery in Plzeň, Czech Republic.
Pilsner Urquell beer has been made in Russia and Poland for several years, but it was not possible to brew the beer of the same taste as in Pilsen, so the production must be closed there at the end of 2017.
2. Pilsner Urquell: History
Pilsner beer wasn´t always as good as it is today. Before Pilsner, beers were dark and poorer in quality.
The city of Plzeň has a very strong breewing tradition. Beer has been brewed in almost every household in Plzeň since 1295 when the city was founded. King Václav II. gave to 260 Pilsner citizens the right to brew the beer during his reign. The privilege to make beer was very profitable financially; it allowed the citizens to make and sell beer in their homes.
Pilsners had been making beer without the necessary knowledge and education and they had often been improving the tastes by variety of ingredients. No wonder the quality of Pilsner beer was really horrible!
This led to an unusual event: 36 barrels of foul tasting Pilsner beer was poured out into the street in front of Plzeň City Hall in February 1838.
Owners of the right to brew beer joined together and chose a special place for construction of the new Pilsen Brewery: a place with sandstone deposits underground for deep cellars and with a rich water source. The construction started in 1839. Then they invited a German master brewer Josef Groll to prepare German style lager beer. The taste of the newly brewed Pilsner beer was so exceptional that it surprised Josef Groll himself. The taste was probably influenced by the unique Plzeň water and other local Czech ingredients.
It was the year 1842 when the legendary Pilsner Beer was born.
The quality of the new born Pilsner beer was so extraordinary, that it was very soon exported to Prague and later to Vienna.
Martin Salzmann, the founder of the most famous Plzeň Restaurant "U Salzmannů", used to be a Pilsner freight transporter carrying the first barrel of the Pilsner beer to Prague in 1843.
Mr. Salzmann was originally bringing goods from Prague to Plzeň, but as the return trip to Prague would have been without a load, the owner of the Prague restaurant “U Pinkasů” asked him to bring back a load of the newly brewed Pilsner beer.
The renown of this bottom-fermented Pilsner lager extended beyond borders of Czech Country soon.
Pilsner Urquell beer was first delivered to:
- Prague in 1843
- Vienna in 1856
- and to New York in 1873
As the popularity of the new Pilsner beer grew, Pilsner Urquell beer also started to be imitated all over the world. This was one of the reasons why the owners of the Burghers Brewery registered the Pilsner beer trade mark. This trade mark also ensures, that Pilsner Urquell beer is always the same taste and quality.
General Customs Office in London marked Pilsner Beer as a special kind of beer regardless of the origin in 1859. The trademark Pilsner Urquell was registered in 1898 to protect this exceptional beer against the copying. Bright bottom-fermented Czech Pilsner Urquell beer became a model for all pilsner beer styles.
Pilsner Urquell beer is exported to more than 60 countries around the world today and it is considered to be not only the best beer from Czech Republic but also one of the best beers from all around the world.
Who owns Pilsner Urquell Brewery today?
Pilsner Urquell Brewery (in Czech language Plzeňský Prazdroj), the largest Czech brewery, is the premium brand of the Japanese company Asahi Group Holdings Ltd since 2017.
3. Pilsner Urquell ingredients: buy online
What is a Pilsner beer made of? 4 main ingredients in beer remain the same all the time, it doesn´t matter which beer we are talking about. So, why is the original Pilsner beer different and exceptional? Soil composition, climate, water chemistry, but also a way of growing, harvesting and preparation, this all have a major impact on unique characteristics of a pale lager Pilsner beer.
Pilsner Urquell Ingredients are: Saaz hops from Žatec, barley malt, special brewer´s yeast and Pilsen´s soft water. In which proportion? It remains the secret of Pilsner master brewers. ☺
Pilsner beer ingredients are used for a beer wellness procedures in the Czech Republic. Beer spa is a bath in natural extracts used to brew Pilsner Urquell beer – selected hop varieties, brewer’s yeast and malt.
Pilsner Beer Making Kit
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3.1 Pilsner ingredients: soft water
Everything starts with soft Pilsen water from own resources. Deep beneath the City of Pilsen is a huge underground lake, from which Pilsner Urquell Brewery draws the water through 80 to 100 meters deep wells. The stocks are huge enough, in fact inexhaustible.
Pilsner soft water has ideal brewing properties due to its low mineral content, and therefore adds to Pilsner beer unique mild flavour.
3.2 Pilsner ingredients: hops
The quality of Pilsner hops is very important in the brewing process of Pilsner Urquell beer. Pilsner Brewery uses only Saaz hops grown in Žatec region, it is the small town in Czech Republic. Pilsner hops from Žatec is considered to be one of the best hops in the world. Thanks to this special kind of red hops gains Pilsner beer fine bitterness and tasty hops flavor.
Red hops from Žatec give to Pilsner Urquell beer fine bitterness flavor.
Czech Republic is one of the world largest hop producers. To take part in the hops harvest used to be very popular activity among students at the end of August. It had two advantages: you earned money and you spend fun time with other "workers".
I also took part on the harvest during my University studies. We were divided to several groups. One group worked in the field. It was the most difficult job, because workers had to tear away hops from the wired construction. Another group was responsible for separating hops cones from trash. We began at 6 in the morning and everything was done by hand.
3.3 Pilsner malt
Pilsner malt is the most essential ingredient for the production of Pilsner Urquell beer. The malt provides the beer its richness and golden color.What is Pilsner malt? Pilsner malt is made from barley, usually from Moravia region in the Czech Republic. The grain is steeped and allowed to germinate. The germination process is interrupted in a special moment and the grain is then dried and heated.
This germination process creates enzymes which split the grain’s starch into simple sugars. Depending on how long the roasting process takes, the malt will darken in color.
Pilsner Urquell Brewery produces its own malt in the malt house in Pilsen to ensure the highest quality.
Pilsner malt is made from barley grain from Moravia region in the Czech Republic.
3.4 Pilsner Urquell yeast
The final taste of the beer is also influenced by Pilsner yeast. Brewer’s yeast transforms the sugars (gained from grain) into alcohol and carbon dioxide.
Pilsner Urquell beer is fermented with a bottom fermenting lager yeast. These yeasts are able to ferment at lower temperatures: around 10°C.
Pilsner Brewing Kit
Homebrew your own Czech Pilsner Lager with this beer making kit.
This Pilsner Beer Kit come packed with every single ingredient your Pilsner beer needs.
More time for you to enjoy brewing.
4. Czech Pilsner recipe and Pilsner brewing process
The cornerstone of Pilsner beer are local Czech ingredients, the specific manufacturing process and original technology of Pilsner Urquell Brewery.
Czech Pilsner recipe: top secret!
The secret of a unique process of Pilsner brewing has been proceed from generation to generation since the first beer was brewed in Pilsner Urquell brewery in the year 1842.
We would like to divulge Pilsner Urquell recipe, but only about 10 master brewers know Czech Pilsner recipe. So here are main facts which we discovered:
- Pilsner brewing process takes 5 weeks as it was first brewed
- Pilsner beer is fermented at low temperatures: around 10°C (50°F)
- Mashing process is repeated 3 times
- The part of beer production is stored in wooden barrels.
Here are the basic steps of Pilsner beer brewing process:
4.1. Malt preparation
The magical process of Pilsner brewing begins in the malt house.
Barley grains are made to germinate by soaking in water. The germination process is interrupted in a special moment and the grain is then dried and heated. By this way is baley transformed to the malt.
Well dried malt is mechanically crushed and mixed with water, producing thick mixture called a mash.
4.2. Triple-decoction mashing
Mash is warmed up to induce the further breakdown of sugars. This part of brewing process is called "mashing".
Mashing is a very important and sophisticated process.
Hot water hydrates the barley, activates the malt enzymes and converts the grain starches into various types of sugar. Complex sugers are transformed to simple sugars, which are important to the process of fermentation later.
The malt is cooked with water in large cupreous tanks above an open flame during mashing. This process is repeated three times. Thanks to the triple mashing Pilsner Urquell beer gets its golden color, characteristic aroma of malt grains and a balanced caramel taste.
4.3. Lautering (separation of the liquid)
During lautering process is the liquid extract (known as wort) separated from the grain scrap.
This sweet solution isn´t yet beer.
Then hops finally step in at this stage.
Pilsner Beer is produced in Pilsner Urquell Brewery in Plzeň (Pilsen) Czech Republic.
4.4. Boiling with hops
The sweet wort is boiled with hops for 2 hours.
Hops are initially added into the sweet wort before it reaches a boil (first wort hopping); more hops are added about 80 minutes before the end of the boil, and the final addition is added about 25 minutes before the end of the boil.
The hops release bitter essences that give Pilsner beer its typical aroma. Hot wort is again "cleaned" from hops and other settlements.
The wort extract concentration determines the gravity of beer and hence the alcohol content.
Pilsner Urquell beer has the alcohol content 4,4% and it is deteminated as 12° beer.
4.5. Cooling, fermentation and maturation
The wort is pumped into the whirlpool tub, where fine particles are removed.
The wort is then cooled to the fermentation temperature 6-7 °C (44 °F).
Subsequent fermentation takes place in stainless steel cylindroconical tanks in two phases: fermentation and maturation.
During fermentation bottom yeast breaks down the sugar in the wort to carbon dioxide and alcohol. Primary fermentation period usually lasts 6 to 12 days at temperatures of 6 – 12 °C and the whole process is controlled by computer.
When the fermentation is over, the yeast is removed.
During maturation phase is the beer allowed to lie and to mature for 3-4 weeks. It is the reason, why is it called "Lager". The subsequent filtration eliminates the remaining yeast.
4.6. Wooden barrels give Pilsner beer a unique taste
Pilsner Urquell brewery still produces a small amount of Pilsner Urquell beer using the traditional method from the time of the first brewer, Josef Groll, which involves fermentation in open wooden vats and maturing in oak barrels.
Cellars beneath the Pilsner Urquell Brewery are 9 km long and they used to serve for storage and cooling of Pilsner beer in the past. Ice pieces remained here for almost a whole year.
Nowadays, only a small part of the production is stored in wooden barrels. The modern production is continuously compared with the old method to ensure the same taste of Pilsner Urquell beer as in 1842.
Brewery cellars 20 m beneath the ground, where the part of Pilsner Beer is stored in huge wooden barrels.
4.7. Packaging of Pilsner lager
Finally the beer is filled into transport containers – tanks, KEG barrels, bottles and cans.
Bottling facility in Pilsner Urquell Brewery is one of the most modern in Europe and processes 120,000 glass bottles and 60,000 aluminium cans per hour.
Pilsner beer is ready for shipment.
5. Pilsner Urquell: calories
Pilsner beer is caloric, no doubt. And it encourages appetite!
A half litre (500 ml) of Pilsner Urquell beer has 220 calories.
But don´t care so much about Pilsner Urquell calories, beer can be also healthy.
6. Pilsner Urquell: alcohol content
Pilsner Urquell Alcohol percentage by volume (ABV): 4.40%.
Pilsner Urquell beer has the alcohol content 4,4% and it is deteminated as 12° beer.
7. What is the difference between lager and pilsner beer
When we speak about the beer manufactured in Pilsner Urquell Brewery we use the expression Pilsner lager. What is it a lager beer? What is the difference between beer and lager, if any?
The brewer Josef Groll in October 1842 made completely different beer than has been customary in Pilsen.
Until 1842, beer was prepared in different ways in Pilsen. Most passes through the top fermentation and was unstable in a quality.
But Groll has applied his knowledge of cooking of bottom fermented beer in Pilsen. This beer was produced with the assistance of the bottom yeast at temperatures around 10 ° C, which ultimately allowed 30 days to lie and to mature. Therefore, the bottom fermented beer is called "Lager beer".
What is the difference between lager and ale?
And now, we are little bit more informed. Every kind of beer belongs to one of these 2 groups, depending of the kind of fermentation process:
1) Top fermented beer (more known as ALE):
At the end of a major phase of fermentation, the yeast made a cap on the surface. ALE beers are prepared at a temperature of around 15 to 20 °C with the use of special yeast.
Top fermentation method is mostly used for brewing of wheat beer (mainly from Belgium and Bavaria, but increasingly also from the Czech Republic) and also for brewing of Stout or Porter. Using the method of top fermentation it is easier to obtain beer with a higher alcohol content.
2) Bottom fermented beer (known as LAGER):
The main phase of fermentation process takes place at lower temperatures, around 8 to 14 ° C. A different kind of yeast is used and therefore the cap isn´t formed on the tubs with beer, but the yeast accumulates at the bottom of the vats.
Bottom fermented beers are the most common type of beers all around the world — particularly the Pilsner type. Lager beers are more stable, have a longer durability and a distinct hop flavour.
Non-alcoholic beers usually belong to the category of the bottom fermented beers.
8. Plzeň (Pilsen) Czech Republic
Read about the place, where Pilsner Urquell beer was born in 1842.
Plzeň (in English and German also known as Pilsen) is the fourth largest City in the Czech Republic, a small central European Country.
Read more about Pilsen City here »
Written by Šárka Novotná
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Hi, I'm Šárka and I'm so glad you've found this Website! I was born in Plzeň and from the love to my home city I launched PlzenGuide.com. I hope you will find important information and ideas about how to spend an incredible time in Pilsen Czech Republic.