Living in Germany, we definitely get our fill of the golden nectar. Here you can find beer in so many varieties and styles that you your mind will be left reeling by all of the choices even before you’ve had anything to drink! But no matter where you are in the world, chances are pretty good that you’re tipping back a glass of sudsy brew, called a “pils”, that had its origins in the small city of Pilsen in the Czech Republic. To say we were excited to take the Pilsener Urquell Brewery Tour is an understatement.
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Pilsen, the Original Pils Beer
According to most experts, beer, in some form or another, has been around since the times of ancient Egypt and the pharaohs. It has even been used in spas, at beer baths throughout the Czech Republic. And, indeed, in the early nineteenth century it was not a new drink. In Pilsen when the city brewers guild and aldermen got together and decided to do something about the bad quality of their favorite drink, the decision was made to design and build a new, state of the art brewery to accommodate the needs of the town to develop the best tasting brew possible. Once the brewery was operating, it only took the master brewer, Josef Groll, a short time to develop the next great beer, a bottom fermented pale lager with a longer shelf life and better taste than anything the townspeople had tipped back before. Soon the word got out and the new beer, Pilsner Urquell, was being barreled up and shipped far and wide. A testament to its taste and popularity, it’s still widely sought after in all corners of the world, and we Vails? We love it!
The History of Pils Beer
So how do you learn about this fascinating history? Who can tell you all about the endeavors of Josef Groll, master brewer? Why, the guides on the Pilsner Urquell brewery museum and factory tour, of course! The brewery is still in operation today, massively so, in fact. It brews and bottles beer at the rate of over 120,000 bottles per hour. But you can slow down and enjoy a two hour tour without getting caught up on the conveyor belts or pushed aside in the reject pile. Check the brewery’s website for up to the minute information; but, on most days, you can take an English tour at one of three times throughout the day. You’ll accompany a tour guide who will happily give you all the pertinent details of the factories operation as well as sharing a story or two about Josef and some industrial spies.
Taking the Pilsener Urquell Brewery Tour
The tour will take you through the small museum, to the bottling plant, into the old and new brew houses, through a hands on experiential exhibit complete with 360 degree cinema, and finally down into the lagering caves. The breweries high tech cooling system, back in the day, included miles of these cool tunnels that could be kept even cooler during the summer months with ice that had been packed in during the winter. Of course, the tunnels don’t get much use in today’s brewing and bottling process, but the factory does still brew and ferment a large batch of special, unfiltered pilsner especially for consumption on the tour only. You’ll get a chance to belly up to one of the big wooden casks, pull a beer and enjoy it in the cold cellar tunnels. I especially recommend this on a hot summer day!
Aside from taking the tour of the factory and the cellars, you can enjoy a good meal at the onsite restaurant where you can also sample a version of that special unfiltered brew, though it wasn’t fermented in the oaken casks. There is also a small museum store where you can purchase mementos of your visit, and of course, a case or two of your favorite pale lager, Pilsner Urquell!
Opening Hours: 10:00 – 5:00, English tours are offered once every hour.
Train: 1 hour from Prague on the RegioJet, then you can either take the number 13 to NC Černice or the number 15 bus to Mrakodrap, but this one has a longer walk.
Pilsner Urquell Brewery
U Prazdroje 7, 301 00
Plzeň 3, Czech
What’s your favorite brew? Have you been to Plzen or the Pilsner Urquell Brewery Tour?
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