A bottle and a glass of Pilsner Urquell beer

Pilsner (also pilsener or simply pils) is a type of pale lager. It takes its name from the city of Pilsen (Plzeň), Bohemia, in today's Czech Republic, where it has been developed since 1842, when a bottom-fermented beer was first produced.[1] The original Pilsner Urquell beer is produced there today.



Until the mid-1840s, most Bohemian beers were top-fermented. The taste and standards of quality often varied widely, and in 1838, consumers dumped whole barrels to show their dissatisfaction. The officials of Pilsen founded a city-owned brewery in 1839, called Bürger Brauerei (Citizens' Brewery - now Plzeňský Prazdroj), brewing beer according to the Bavarian style of brewing.[2] Bavarian brewers had begun experiments with the storage (German: 'Lager') of beer in cool caves using bottom-fermenting yeasts (i.e.German: 'gelagert') , which improved the beer's clarity and shelf-life. Most of this research benefited from the knowledge already expounded on in a book (printed in German in 1794, in Czech in 1801), written by František Ondřej Poupě (Ger: Franz Andreas Paupie) (1753–1805) from Brno.[3]

The Bürger Brauerei recruited the Bavarian brewer Josef Groll (1813 – 1887) who, using new techniques and paler malts, presented his first batch of modern pilsner on 5 October 1842. The combination of pale colour from the new malts, Pilsen's remarkably soft water, Saaz noble hops from nearby Žatec (Saaz in German) and Bavarian-style lagering produced a clear, golden beer that was regarded as a sensation.

Improving transport and communications also meant that this new beer was soon available throughout Central Europe, and the Pilsner Brauart style of brewing was soon widely imitated. In 1859, “Pilsner Bier” was registered as a brand name at the Chamber of Commerce and Trade in Pilsen. In 1898, the Pilsner Urquell trade mark was created to put emphasis on being the original brewery.

Modern pilsners

Bottle of Tuzlanski pilsner Pivara Tuzla
A glass of Krombacher pilsner

The introduction to Germany of modern refrigeration by Carl von Linde in the late 19th century removed the need for caves in which to store the beer and thus allowed the brewing of bottom-fermenting beer in many places that had been unable to do so before.[4] However, even until recently the Pilsner Urquell brewery still fermented its beer using open barrels in the cellars underneath their brewery. This technology was changed in 1993 with the use of large cylindrical tanks; however, small samples are still brewed in a traditional way for taste comparisons. Pilsner also has the unique claim to being "the world's first golden beer".[5]

A modern pilsner has a very light, clear colour from pale to golden yellow, and a distinct hop aroma and flavour. Czech pilsners tend toward a lighter flavour (good examples being Pilsner Urquell and Staropramen), while those in a German style can be more bitter (particularly in the north, e.g. Jever) or even "earthy" in flavour. Distinctive examples of German pilsners are Aktienbrauerei Kaufbeuren Jubiläums Pils, Augustiner Pils, Beck's, Bitburger, Flensburger Pilsner, Fürstenberg, Henninger's Kaiser Pilsner, Holsten, König Pilsner, Königsbacher Pilsner, Pivara Tuzla Tuzlanski pilsner, Krombacher, Kulmbacher, Radeberger, Schwelm's Schwelmer Pils, Veltins, Warsteiner, Würzburger Hofbräu, and Wernesgrüner. On the other hand, Dutch (Amstel, Grolsch, Heineken) and Belgian pilsners (Jupiler, Stella Artois) have a slightly sweet taste. Pilsners are identified by their participation in categories like "European-Style Pilsner" at the World Beer Cup or other similar competitions.

Pilsners as a marketing category

A pilsner is generally regarded as different from other pale lagers by a more prominent hop character, particularly from the use of Saaz noble hops and spring (soft) water. While pilsner is best defined in terms of its characteristics and heritage, the term is also used by some brewers (particularly in North America) to indicate their "premium" beer, whether or not it has a particular hop character.

See also


  1. ^ Jackson, Michael. "Prague: twinned with Burton-upon-Trent". The Beer Hunter. http://www.beerhunter.com/documents/19133-000054.html. Retrieved 28 April 2011. 
  2. ^ "Plzeňský Prazdroj, a. s.". www.prazdroj.cz. http://www.prazdroj.cz/en/about-the-company/history. Retrieved 2009-10-17. 
  3. ^ Basařová G.: Der legendäre böhmische Brauer František Ondřej Poupě (Franz Andreas Paupie) 1753-1805. Jahrbuch 2003 Gesellschaft für die Geschichte und Bibliographie des Brauwesens E.V. (GGB), (2003) 1, 128-146.
  4. ^ "Altbier im Alltag" by Genno Fonk, 1999, page 11
  5. ^ "Pilsner Urquell". Miller Brands website. http://www.millerbrands.co.uk/beers/pilsner/Pages/home.aspx. Retrieved 10 May 2011. 

External links

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Pilsner — kann bezeichnen: allgemein die Herkunft aus der Stadt Pilsen (Plzeň, Tschechien) Pilsner Bier bzw. Bier nach Pils(e)ner Brauart, eine Biersorte (untergäriges Lagerbier) Pilsner Urquell, Biermarke (seit 1898) der tschechischen Brauerei Plzeňský… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • pilsner — 1877, after Pilsen, German town in Bohemia (Czech Plzen) where it was first brewed. Now designating a type, not an origin; pilsner from Plzen is Pilsner Urquell, from Ger. Urquell primary source. The place name is from O.Czech plz damp, moist …   Etymology dictionary

  • Pilsner — Pils (bière) Pilsner Urquell La bière pils, également appelée pilsener, pilsen ou pilsner, du nom de la ville tchèque de Plzeň (Pilsen en français et en allemand), est une bière blonde et limpide, de fermentation basse de type lager. Elle titre… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Pilsner — /pilz neuhr, pils /, n. (sometimes l.c.) 1. a pale, light lager beer. 2. any lager beer of high quality. 3. Also called pilsner glass. a tall glass that is tapered to a short stem at the bottom, used esp. for beer. Also, Pilsener /pil zeuh neuhr …   Universalium

  • pilsner — s ( n, pilsner) …   Clue 9 Svensk Ordbok

  • pilsner — or pilsener noun Etymology: German, literally, of Pilsen (Plzeň), city in the Czech Republic Date: 1877 1. a light beer with a strong flavor of hops 2. a tall slender footed glass for beer …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • pilsner — noun A pale, light lager beer …   Wiktionary

  • Pilsner — Pils; Pilsener * * * Pịls|ner 〈n. 13〉 = Pilsener * * * 1Pịls|ner usw.: ↑ 1Pilsener usw. * * * Pịl|se|ner, Pịls|ner, das; s, [gek. aus Pils[e]ner Bier; nach der tschech. Stadt Pilsen (tschech. Plzeň)]: helles, stark schäumendes, etwas bitter… …   Universal-Lexikon

  • Pilsner — n. type of lager beer; special cup for serving beer …   English contemporary dictionary

  • Pilsner — [ pɪlznə, pɪls ] (also Pilsener) noun a lager beer with a strong hop flavour, originally brewed at Pilsen (Plzeň) in the Czech Republic …   English new terms dictionary

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.