I had a walk and a beer with a few of our guides recently, and I told them that I’m only writing about one beer. ‘Only one?!?!’ was the answer. ‘That won’t be easy!’, and I agreed. I guess it would be like a Frenchman trying to write about only one wine – it feels like a betrayal towards the other brands! But, I decided to start with a classic, to lay the foundation for more Czech beer posts. Here it goes!
The waiter/waitress gently bangs down your frosted pint that is full of glimmering golden nectar. You grab the pint by the ear, some foam spills to the table (as it should) and soon you feel rush of subtle sweetness accompanied by sparkling bitterness and before you know it, 1/3 of the beer has already dived into your stomach. You wonder, “Why didn’t I order two?!”, ( you should and you can). That is the experience you can expect when you drink the cornerstone, or should we say cornerbrew, of the Czech beer – Pilsner Urquell. To express the experience in only one word, it is FRESH!
Beer in the Czech Republic is lot more than just an alcoholic beverage, it has been deeply rooted in the culture for over 1,000 years, and in the 16th century, noblemen and knights fought over the rights to brew beer (really, no joke!).
Pilsner Urquell, a highly acclaimed beer, was the first light-coloured beer in the world, and also the first beer that was made by using a bottom fermentation method that gives it the unique taste and appearance. “The Golden nectar” is rooted by many Czechs. Did we just say rooted? Yep! Here’s some insight to the local beer culture: Czechs cheer and defend their favourite brand of beer like Englishmen ‘root’ for their football team.
Pilsner Urquell is famous enough to even surpass the Charles Bridge and Prague Castle as a local icon, and while we’re usually all about ‘off the beaten path’, when it comes to enjoying a beer, it’s just not that simple.
‘Off the beaten tap’ would actually be a good thing, since, the more the beer flows, the fresher it is. The whole process from choosing the right barley and hops (Czech use a unique hop called Saaz), to tapping the beer (done by draft masters, who are proud of their craftsmanship), to bringing it to the table is an art. With that said, it would be blasphemy to talk about Pilsner Urquell and not talk about the place that served it first and where consumption is counted in thousands of hectolitres. It’s called U Pinkasu, and it’s a local legend. Head there to lay the foundation for the understanding of what is truly a good beer. The beer will never taste the same after you have it here, but we think that’s an okay problem to have.
Thirsty for Prague? We’ve got a few locally led tours to quench your thirst!