Na zdraví! Pilsner Beer Was Invented 178 Years Ago Today

The very first batch of Pilsner Urquell was brewed by a master brewer from Bavaria on 5th October 1842, using four simple ingredients: Saaz hops, malt, sugar, and high-quality water.

On 11 November 1842, the new beer was first served at the feast of St. Martin markets.

Josef Groll brought the brewing methods he used from his Bavarian home. For this reason, bottles of pilsner were originally labeled “brewed in the Bavarian tradition.”

The city of Plzeň offered the ideal conditions for this new beer. The special mineral qualities of the local water influenced the taste during the brewing process and was ideally suited for the slightly bitter taste of the “Urquell.” The high hops content also adds to the beers’ bitterness.

Pilsner is a bottom-fermented beer, which means that a type of yeast is added which sinks to the bottom during the fermentation process. The traditional beer is then fermented in cold tunnels 20 meters below ground.

With new transportation and communication developments across Europe, the popularity of Pilsner Urquell quickly spread, and the city of Plzeň became well known for its’ golden lager.

Pilsner Urquell was the first pale lager, and the name “pilsner” is often used by its copies. Nine out of ten beers produced and consumed in the world are pale lagers based on Pilsner Urquell.

The German name, which can be roughly translated into English as “the original source”, was adopted as a trademark in 1898.


U Pinkasů claims to be the first pub to serve Pilsner Urquell in Prague, ea boast which has even been repeated by Pilsner Urquell’s marketing department, but according to the brewery’s own chronicle, Měšťanský Pivovar v Plzni 1842–1892, the first pub to tap the beer in Prague was Karel Knobloch’s tavern U Modré Štiky, once located at the corner of Karlova and Liliova streets, which started selling Pilsner Urquell as early as the brewery’s inaugural year of 1842 — one year before U Pinkasů.

Pilsner Urquell Brewery today

Pilsner Urquell Brewery was part of the SABMiller group of companies (at first South African Breweries) from 1999 to 2017. As part of the agreements made with regulators before Anheuser-Busch InBev was allowed to acquire SABMiller in October 2016, Pilsner Urquell (excluding certain geographical areas) was sold to Japan-based Asahi Breweries in March 2017.

Josef Groll | Photo: Wolfgang Sauber, Wikimedia Commons
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