Saturday, June 24, 2017

THE BEER BEAT: I'm curious about the origins of the smooth, crisp and milky Pilsner Urquell pours.

Czech for Pilsner Urquell; a 1987 teaser. Photos to come.

The last time I had the pleasure of visiting the Czech Republic was 2006. That's a long time.

My most recent visit to Plzen, home of Pilsner Urquell?

Probably 1999; almost two decades. As I've been digitalizing my 1980s-era slides, there has been plenty of opportunity to ruminate about the incredible changes that have occurred in a place like Plzen since 1987.

Back then the country was called Czechoslovakia, and it was Communist. In spite of this, or maybe because of it, the beer was out of this world. Pair it with pork and dumplings, and repeat as often as possible.

In July, 1987 Barrie and I took the train to Plzen from Prague, found the brewery, and enjoyed a leisurely afternoon with multiple portions of the nectar, first in the former brewery tap outside the factory gate, then a few yards away in another pub long since supplanted by a roadway improvement project.

To me, it seems like yesterday. At the first stop, the coat check attendant told us she remembered the arrival of Patton's 3rd Army in Plzen during WWII. At the second, we were joined by a cab driver, who had chucked work for the day and was ferrying his buddies from pub to pub, drinking with them. None of them spoke English, and we spoke no Czech.

Rather, beer was spoken.

I watched quite a few Pilsner Urquells being poured that day, and would continue to do so in the years to come, hence the point of today's digression.

I've been vaguely aware that the Pilsner Urquell international distribution effort of late has been emphasizing the "three pours" draft approach. I'm all aboard, and want to learn more.

If my pub sanctuary project-in-development gets off the ground, this will be my daily classic house lager -- and make no mistake, Asahi as Urquell's new owner ranks nowhere near AB-InBev's level of multinational swinishness.

Besides, there'll be just a few changeable taps, and frequent excuses to pour Prima Pils, Goodwood's Louisville Lager and other beers in a similar range. What there won't be is a spinning wheel rotational approach.

As ever, I digress.

All I can ever remember ever seeing during all those times traveling in the Czech lands are were faucets pulled up, down or sideways to full bore as numerous glasses were filled with half-beer, half-foam, and then topped off. It seemed a reflection of having just one or two beers on tap, and numerous thirsty customers.

It occurs to me that I may be be missing something. Most readers already know that while I was in the beer biz for many years, it's been a while since I paid very much attention to a topic like this, even though there was a time when the Public House was the top Pilsner Urquell draft account in Indiana (if memory serves).

In this ongoing process of rediscovering bits and piece of life that were shunted aside during my should-have-known-better, trench warfare craft beer phase, I'm curious how long the Pilsner Urquell three-pour approach has been a factor.

Twenty years, maybe? Ten?

Or was it always a fact, just honored in the breach during Communist times, perhaps owing to the overall degradation?

Maybe I wasn't paying attention at all. It wouldn't be the first instance. If you know anything about this topic, please share it with me. As noted, it is my earnest wish to pour Pilsner Urquell again some day, hopefully soon.

Enjoy these two videos ...

 ... and two articles about the same.

Mastering the Pilsner–And Drinking Pure, Delicious Foam, by Nate Hopper and Eric Vilas-Boas (Esquire)


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