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"Pilsener" redirects here. For other uses, see Pilsener (disambiguation).
Examples of German pilsner beer labels
Pilsner (also pilsener, pilsen or simply pils) is a type of pale lager. It takes its name from the city of Plzeň, Bohemia, Czech Republic, where it was first produced in 1842. The original Pilsner Urquell beer is still produced there today.
The City of Pilsen began brewing in 1295, but 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 Měšťanský pivovar Plzeň (German: Bčrger-Brauerei, English: Citizens' Brewery - now Pilsner Urquell), which should brew beer according to the pioneering Bavarian style. Brewers had begun aging beer made with bottom-fermenting yeasts in caves (lager, i.e. German: gelagert [storage]), which improved the beer's clarity and shelf-life. Part of this research benefited from the knowledge already expounded on in a book (printed in German in 1794, in Czech in 1799), written by Czech brewer František Ondřej Poupě (Ger: Franz Andreas Paupie) (1753–1805) from Brno.
The Pilsen brewery 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 brighter malt prepared by English technology, Pilsen's remarkably soft water, local Saaz noble hops from nearby Žatec and Bavarian-style lagering produced a clear, golden beer that was regarded as a sensation. Three years later in 1845, Groll returned to Vilshofen and there later inherited his father's brewery.
In 1853 the beer was available in 35 pubs in Prague, in 1856 came to Vienna and in 1862 to Paris. Improving transport and communications also meant that this new beer was soon available throughout Europe, and the Pilsner 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.