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A Short History of Pilsners

26th Dec 2012

Pilsner is a pale lager, bottom-fermented, that has been in production since 1842. The beer is named after the Bohemian city in the Czech Republic, Pilsen, where it was first brewed and still is being brewed. The original Pilsner brew is Pilsner Urquell which grew out of the 1838 consumer dissatisfaction protest of the taste and quality of top-fermented beer.

Josef Groll was the Bavarian brewer hired by the Měšťanský pivovar Plzeň brewery (Citizens' Brewery), owned by the city of Pilsen, to produce the pale lager and refined taste that is now associated with the beer. Groll used Saaz noble hops, the soft water of the Pilsen region, and paler malts to accomplish this feat.

Modern Pilsners, as of 1993, are now fermented in cylindrical tanks although a small quantity (for taste comparison) are still fermented the traditional way of open barrels in cellars. The beer has an essence and taste as a result of it distinct hop.  The colour of this lager graduates from a pale yellow to a golden yellow.

The Pilsner has three distinct styles: Czech, European, and German. The Czech-style is high in foam, light in flavour, with a rich golden colour. The most common brands associated with this style are: Gambrinus, Kozel, Pilsner Urquell, Radegast, Staropramen, and Svijany.

The European-style is mildly sweet and is not necessarily produced from barley malt. Jupiler and Stella Artois are Belgian brands associated with this while Amstel, Grolsch, and Heineken are Dutch labels.

The German-style has a bitter/earthy taste and has a pale to golden colour. The brands associated with this style include Beck's, Bitburger and Warsteiner.