The first and still the best
No one should consider pilsners without considering the granddaddy of them all, Pilsner Urquell. From Pilsen in the Czech Republic, this was the first golden pilsner in the world. These guys invented the stuff. Before then, beer was heavy, dark and cloudy. And, then there was light. What an invention. It’s name means ‘Pilsner from the original source’. This is what all those others have been attempting to copy since 1842. No one has managed to do it any better yet.
But that’s just history. What makes it so superior? After all, it’s a very rare product that can withstand a century and a half of competition from imitators the world over and still remain the best. And, it’s almost universally regarded in those terms. Everyone has their favorites, but it’s very rare to find a lager drinker who doesn’t like this stuff.
Even in the dreaded green bottle. What are these people thinking? The one mistake. Apparently, it is assumed American beer drinkers are so enamored of green glass, that unless it comes that way, we won’t buy it -- whatever it does to the product itself. As usual, search for it on tap if possible. It’s going to be a little skunky otherwise. Take a chance and hope for a fresh one. But, even still -- don’t pass it up. It’s so good, you can taste the perfection right through it anyway.
This definitive pilsner lager is a deeper gold than you’re probably used to seeing from the pretenders, with a nice frothy head. It’s got a fragrantly hoppy aroma. You can smell the fields this stuff is from. The flowers, the herbs. Many others import these same barley and hops, but much is lost in the translation.
Urquell is an easy drinking beer. The 4.4% alcohol is fortunate, because it certainly has more taste, especially on those hot summer days. It is full flavored and full bodied. More intense and dry and crisp than just about anything else you’ll ever come across. There’s a soft, syrupy sweetness from the malt just underneath, that is helped along with just a hint of honey. All that, perfectly balanced with a nice, back of the throat bite of bitterness at the finish.
This beer isn’t harsh, though. There’s no need to over chill it. It’s a great summer beer to enjoy long and often. Sitting on a dock watching the boats go by. It won’t get in the way of the flavors of whatever you have to eat. It would be a fine choice with seafood, or just a light salad.
Everything about Pilsner Urquell is just exactly the way a pilsner lager should be. It might be the best mass produced beer in the world. It’s hard to imagine improving upon it much. Many have been trying. There are subtle little things that might appeal to some people in the various imitators, but this is the real deal. If you don’t like Pilsner Urquell, you probably don’t really care for lagers in the first place. You should probably just get a scotch and be done with it. Otherwise, once you’ve had this, it’s the only pilsner lager that you’ll ever need. You can try the rest, but this is the one.