Year of the Beer Day 17: Pilsner Urquelle

pilsner urquelle

Author’s Note: While the Urquelle was tasted on 17 January, 2016, the article is a bit late to allow the readers to complete the Guessing Quiz, which you can see here. This article will feature the answers to the history of the Pilsner.

The pilsner. While beer has been popular since 9500 BC, according to record, the pilsner beer is one of the youngest brands that has existed. First brewed in the mid-1800s, the pilsner was first crafted in response to the need for a beer that is filtered and has a clear color. Prior to that, the beer was top-fermented, creating a dark color but also poor quality. That changed in 1842, when the first batch was introduced. Since then, the pilsner has become one of the most popular beer brands in the world, where almost every brewery has crafted a pilsner. This includes those in Germany, some of which will be tasted in the series.

A week ago I introduced a Guessing Quiz on the origin of the pilsner, and in particular, this beer: The Pilsner Urquelle. I feel before introducing my taste-testing article on the beer that the answers should be given to provide the reader with a little history on it. So without further ado, let’s have a look at the answers and some facts:

frage für das forum

  1. Pilsner beer originated from the town of Pilsen. True or False?   ANS: TRUE. The town of Pilsen first introduced the pilsner to the public on 5 October, 1842.
  2. It was located in Germany in the state of Schlesia. True or False?  ANS:  FALSE.  Pilsen is located in the Czech Republic in what used to be called Bohemia. Prior to 1918, Bohemia was part of the Austro-Hungarian (Habsburg) Empire. The only time it was part of Germany was when Adolf Hitler completed the conquest of Czechoslovakia in 1938. Germany held that region until 1945.  Otherwise it has been under Czech Rule ever since, counting the Velvet Divorce in 1993.
  3. The beer that made the pilsner famous no longer exists. True or False?  ANS: FALSE. Since its introduction in 1842, the Urquelle has been brewing and selling beer to much of Europe. This despite the fact that it is now owned by SAB Miller.
  4. The inventor of the pilsner originated from Saxony. True or False?  ANS: FALSE.  Josef Groll, a Bavarian from Vilshofen, was commissioned to improve the quality of the beer in 1840. Little did he realized that he invented the pilsner two years later.
  5. Michelob beer in the USA has a pilsner brand.  True or False?  ANS: FALSE. Even though many American beers, like Coors, Pabst and Grain Belt craft pilsners (or similar), Michelob produces only lagers, ales and draft beers.
  6. ….and so does Radeberger in Germany.  True or False?  ANS: TRUE, and I have that on my beer to taste list- so, later…. 😉
  7. What is the most important ingredients of a pilsner?  ANS: the hops. When first produced in 1842, the Saaz hops was used for flavor and aromatic purposes. It is still used for the Urquelle today. As the water is hard, most German beers in the northern half use citrus-hops in larger quantities than those in the southern half, where the water is soft. Most hops are either herbal or citrus like, which creates a bitter taste.
  8. What constitutes an Ur-Pils? What is the difference between that and the original pilsner?  Ur means original, and while there is no information on the real difference between the Ur-Pils and the Pils, one can speculate that the Ur-Pils is brewed traditionally, which means top-fermentation and in open barrels, thus leaving it unpasturized and unfiltered, whereas pilsners are fermented in tanks and filtered, giving a clear appearance when pouring it.
  9. What is understood as an Öko-bier (organic beer)? ANS: An organic (or bio) beer is produced using grain and barley that are untreated and not sprayed with pesticides, and the beer is crafted using ingredients that are natural.

More information on the pilsner will come as the beers are being drunk and tasted.

But looking at the Pilsner Urquelle, one can see that the beer still has its charactristic pilsner taste and appearance. The Ur-quelle has its original appearance of it being unfiltered and unpasturized, presenting a cloudy, amber color. Its head is great, carbonization is lively and the body has a medium appearance. Part of it has to do with the soft water that is common and being used to this day for crafting purposes. Both the aroma and flavor have a strong intensity, whose balance is between good and sharp. The main ingredients are grain and nut malt as well as herbal and some citrus hops. The beer had a great freshness and upon drinking it, one can tell that the craftsmanship is great, thus receiving high ratings on the part of the author.

Grade: 1,3/ A: The Pilsner Urquelle still keeps brewing its pilsner, and it should do that, as the beer has set an example for other beers to follow, and sometimes experiment, What used to be unfiltered beer with poor quality that had to be dumped, the Pilsner Urquelle has remained the focal point and basis for a typical pilsner (or in this case, ur-pils) that a person should try while in Germany. While the Urquelle is difficult to find in stores in Germany, it is worth looking for while in Germany. And once you taste it, you have Josef Groll to thank! 🙂 ❤

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