Five interesting things you didn’t know about Pilsner Urquell Brewery
The spectacular celebrations for the 181th anniversary of the first batch ever made of the world-famous Pilsner Urquell beer took place in October right on the grounds of the brewery, which just so happens to be one of the most visited tourist destinations in the Czech Republic. You can embark on any of the tour routes here throughout the year. You may already be well familiar with the delicious taste of this golden lager, but are you just as familiar with the actual brewery itself?
#1 Brewery horses and the U Salzmannů restaurant
The foreman’s wagons have carried Pilsen beer since the beginning, which proved to be a wise business decision. The foreman Matěj Salzmann actually earned so much from transporting beer from the Pilsner Urquell Brewery in Pilsen to Prague that he even opened his own pub in Pilsen. Now, that pub is called U Salzmannů, and it’s still in operation today. And because the Pilsner Urquell Brewery honours tradition and cares for its history, brewery horses are still used today to carry barrels of beer around Pilsen’s historical city centre both in winter and in summer.
#2 The Proud brewery in the former power station
Just as the Pilsner Urquell Brewery cares for tradition, it doesn’t shy away from innovation. And that explains why an experimental brewery with the symbolic name Proud was opened in the former power station on the grounds of the brewery, not far from the confluence of the Mže and Radbuza Rivers. You can get your hands on some Proud craft beer in a number of pubs around the city (map), order it on the e-shop, or straight from the brewery. You can even go on a tour of the former power generators, which are led by one of the Proud brewery team members. And at the end of your tour, you’ll be greeted by a rich degustation of the local beer portfolio from the fermenting lager tanks.
#3 Brewery coopers
Another trade carefully watched over by the Pilsner Urquell Brewery is cooperage. It’s the only, or at least one of the very few breweries left, that still actually employs coopers. In Pilsen, these coopers produce oaken barrels using the unique and original method that’s been handed down from generation to generation. It’s in these wooden barrels, which need to be pitched after every use, that the beer matures and ferments just as it would 180 years ago under the supervision of the brewery’s first brewmaster, Josef Groll.
#4 The secrets of production
Despite various attempts, Pilsner Urquell can only produce its beer in Pilsen. Not only do the Pilsen water and Žatecký hops give the beer its unique flavour but also its one-of-a-kind recipe, which remains hidden under a veil of secrecy to this day. The precise number of ingredients is only known by about ten people, the local brewmasters, who also carefully monitor the quality of this Pilsner lager. Of course, the production process has changed over the decades, however, the resulting taste remains the same. If you’d like to try the unfiltered and unpasteurised beer straight out of the oaken barrels, then you can do just that in the historic beer cellars during one of the tours of the Pilsner Urquell Brewery. Tours are held year-round.
#5 Beer for the pope
Both the flavour and the health effects of this Pilsen beer quickly brought it fame all over the world. In the 19th century, Pope Leo XIII had the famous lager imported by way of recommendation. And the Vatican never forgot about the Pilsner Urquell Brewery, which is why Pilsner beer has been an official part of the Easter celebrations in Rome since 2010. A delegation from the brewery carries this gift 1300 km to the pope every year.