Saturday, 18 April 2015

Something for the Weekend, Sir?*

I picked up these three beauties in Sainsbury’s this morning. They were on offer at three bottles for £5. Thought I’d post the photos as I really like the retro-style labels.

However, it's not just the labels which hark back to earlier times; Pilsner Urquell itself has changed little since its inception back in 1842, despite the brand now being owned by brewing giant SAB Miller. The brewery makes considerable play of its tradition, and the heritage which goes with the place where the world’s first golden lager was created. Even though some stages of the brewing process have been brought up to date; most notably the switch from fermentation in open oak vats and maturation in pitch-lined casks to modern stainless-steel conical fermenters, there are still other areas where tradition lingers.

For example, a time-consuming, and some would argue unnecessary, triple decoction mash is used to extract the sugars from the malt, with the company claiming they are the only large-scale brewery still to do so. In addition, Pilsner Urquell’s new brew-house, which opened in 2005, is fitted with copper mash and lauter tuns, although in a concession to modernity the wort kettles are constructed out of stainless steel.

Interestingly, a number of the old oak vats, together with some pitch-lined casks have been kept in use, partly to show visitors how things used to be done, but also to allow taste-matching to be conducted with brews fermented and matured in the new, hi-tech, stainless steel tanks. This is important to ensure the character of the beer remains un-changed, despite the switch to more modern methods of production,

The proof of this care and dedication to tradition can be found in the finished product, as Pilsner Urquell remains one of the world’s finest beers, and a definite classic in its own right. If you don’t know this already, then get yourselves down to Sainsbury’s and grab a few bottles. Better still, look for a pub selling unpasteurised Pilsner Urquell, dispensed direct from stainless steel tanks, (there are several in London). See website for details.

To read a report of the visit I made to the Pilsner Urquell Brewery, back in 2012, click on my other blog here.

*Post more of a "Tweet" when first written, but modified and added to on  24th April 2015.


David said...

Good to see a respected, quality lager brand switching to brown bottles. I wonder whether they switched because brown bottles are better (for the beer) than green or just as part of the rebranding.

Paul Bailey said...

I hadn’t actually noticed the switch to brown glass until you pointed it out, David (very remiss of me), but in mitigation I was so taken with the labels I failed to spot the obvious!

I remember reading, some time ago, that Pilsner Urquell were planning on this change, but it must have taken a while to filter through into the market. As far as I am aware, the change to brown glass is being made for the right reasons; as this colour glass is far more effective at filtering out damaging UV than green.

Good to see a large brewing group making this change; although I don’t suppose all SAB-Miller beers will benefit from a similar change in packaging.

BT said...

I bought some of these new bottles from Tesco recently and was surprised to find PU tasting much hoppier than it used to be - perhaps they were just fresher than the usual green cornershop ones I'm used to.