Down here, in the dim, wet halls where all Pilsner Urquell used to be lagered in great wooden barrels, they still make a small amount of it in the old, traditional way: fermented in open vats, aged in the big barrels that are still made by an onsite cooperage, and cooled by the natural temperature of the earth. They do that to make sure the beer made the modern way tastes the same as the old school stuff.
|Vaclav handing Thomas his first beer|
And there I was, in the very birthplace of pilsner, drinking fresh-as-life beer tapped directly from those barrels, with none other than the Pilsner Urquell brewmaster, a huge blond bear of a man named Vaclav Berka. It was cool, deliciously zingy with Saaz hop aroma and bitterness, and fantastically fresh.
The second moment was in mid-October. It was my son’s 21st birthday, and I managed to get him to hold off having a drink until 4:30 in the afternoon. That was when we went to a Pilsner Urquell event (at City Tap House), and my son’s first legal beer was a Pilsner Urquell, tapped and handed to him by a huge blond bear of a man . . . named Vaclav Berka. I got the next one, and it was cool, deliciously zingy with Saaz hop aroma and bitterness, and fantastically fresh....
And you can read the rest of that story here. It's a trade journal piece, but a good piece. And I have a follow-up, too. Yesterday I picked up a liter of unpasteurized Pilsner Urquell in the beautiful bottle you see to the left. I got it from the people at Muller Beverage, who told me it was one of only 60 in the country (edit: Ahhh...no. It was actually one of 60 that Muller got, which is quite a bit different! I was moving fast, and it was a simple misunderstanding. My apologies to all). They also told me I should drink it right away, because it had been held up in shipping because of Hurricane Sandy (that bastard).
So I did. I picked up some lobsters at a local supermarket (I'd say where and give them a plug, but they sold me a piece of bad bluefish at the same time, so screw 'em), got some barbecue mushrooms at the farmer's market, and went home to Cathy and Thomas. I popped open the liter, poured it into two beautiful Pilsner glasses I got at the Grey Lodge some years back and cherish, and Thomas's mug (which you see in Vaclav's big hand above), and we drank that sweet thing... And we all said, hey, that's pretty good! And it was. I hope the whole Express Shipped Cold thing works out, because then we'll see more of this kind of thing, and it won't just be lucky journalists and bar owners who get this delicious stuff.