9 April 2015 - Best Beer HQ

Pilsner Urquell beer review

Pilsner Urquell review

ABV: 4.4%

History: First brewed in 1842 in the Czech town of Pilsen (hence the name), Pilsner Urquell, or Plzeňský Prazdroj as its known locally, was the world’s first pilsner.

Pilsner Urquell was fermented in open beer barrels and stored in cellars beneath the brewery in Pilsen until 1993, when the company started using large cylindrical tanks. However, to ensure the taste is authentic, small samples of Pilsner Urquell are still brewed in the traditional way for taste comparisons.

Today, Pilsner Urquell is owned by multinational brewing company SAB Miller. Read more here.

Bottle: The Pilsner Urquell in New Zealand comes in a brown bottle with a white label that features a red stamp. It looks suitably vintage, classy, and, well, very European.

As a long-time fan of Pilsner I get a warm fuzzy feeling when I look at this label. I loved this beer when I was travelling in the Czech Republic but, until October 2014, the world’s first pilsner wasn’t available in New Zealand.

Now it is. But will Pilsner Urquell taste as good as I remember?

Blurb on the bottle: In 1842, the Citizen’s Brewery of Plzen brewed the world’s first golden pilsner and never stopped. We make it the same way, in the same place, with 100% of our ingredients from the same farming regions in Czech, as always.

Tastes like: My holiday to the Czech Republic, where I drank a crap-load (pardon my French) of this delicious beer.

Seriously though, it’s surprising how much flavour is packed into a beer that’s only 4.4% ABV. The malts are rather complex – I love the toasty, biscuity bitterness, which is balanced by the ever-so-slightly spicy Saaz hops.

The beer is light-to-medium bodied, with a dry bitter finish that lingers. It pours clean and golden, with an almost-floral aroma and a small white head.

Is it the best beer ever? As the template for all pilsners that followed, Pilsner Urquell has a lot to live up to – or, depending on how you look at it, all pilsners that came after this one owe a debt of gratitude to the original.

It’s little wonder that Pilsner Urquell appears on international “best beer” lists with some regularity. Pilsner Urquell remains a very good beer indeed. Modern craft beer pilsners tend to feature more hops, but they don’t tend to be as complex, or as sessionable as Pilsner Urquell.

Now if only we could get it shipped over to New Zealand in wooden barrels and have it served to us that way, like they do in the Czech Republic…

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