Pilsner Urquell (international title, Plzeňský Prazdroj in Czech) is a bottom-fermenting beer produced since 1842 in Pilsen, Bohemia (Czech Republic). The beer is today a prominent brand of global brewing empire SABMiller, which has also started brewing Pilsner Urquell in Poland and Russia.
Pilsner Urquell is somewhat heavier (with an almost ale-like fruitiness in the malt body) and more strongly hopped than most pilsener beers, which is considered by many to be its most distinguishing characteristic. Saaz hops, a noble hop variety, are a key element in its flavor profile, as are the use of soft water and fire-brewing. It is available in a 500ml (half liter) aluminum can in addition to the classic, stylish green bottle.
As its name indicates (both "Urquell" in German; the official language of Bohemia when it was a part of the Austrian empire in which the brewery was founded, and "Prazdroj" in Czech mean "original source"); it is the world's original pilsener, or golden beer. Most popular Lagers produced in the rest of the world are based upon this original beer. Many beers that call themselves a pilsner, pilsener or pils is referring to being made in the style of this beer, first formulated by Josef Groll in 1842 at Měšťanský pivovar (Burgess' Brewery) in Pilsen on 5 October 1842. However, the term "pilsner" is also used as a marketing term wherein the brewer represents that their "pilsner" is their premium offering, even though it may not be a stylistically accurate version of a Pilsner. Plzeňský pramen, Prapramen, Měšťanské Plzeňské, Plzeňský pravý zdroj were brand names that the Burgess' Brewery registered at the end of the nineteenth century; however, it was another name that persevered: Prazdroj.
- 1295 City of Pilsen established, beginnings of brewing.
- 1307 First recorded mention of the existence of an actual brewery with malt house.
- 1839 Burghers in Pilsen decide to found the Měšťanský pivovar (Burgess' Brewery).
- 15 September 1839 – autumn 1840 Construction of the Burgess' Brewery, forerunner of today's brewery.
- 5 October 1842 First brew of Bavarian type beer, bottom-fermented beer, so-called pale lager.
- 1 March 1859 "Pilsner Bier" brand name registered at the Chamber of Commerce and Trade in Pilsen.
- 2nd half of 19th century Brewery expands in Europe, first exports from Pilsen to America.
- 1869 První akciový pivovar, today known as Gambrinus.
- 1898 New Prazdroj – Urquell trade mark created.
- 1910 Světovar - Český Plzeňský pivovar akciové společnosti v Plzni.
- 1912 Pilsner Urquell was the only beer available commercially on the RMS Titanic.
- 1913 Output over 100 million litres of beer, commercial representation in 34 countries.
- 1925 - 1933 Merger of Pilsen breweries.
- 1933 Two breweries in Pilsen: Měšťanský pivovar and Plzeňské akciové pivovary (PAP). Majority of PAP shares owned by Měšťanský pivovar.
- 1 June 1945 National administration for companies owned by Měšťanský pivovar in Pilsen . National administration took over management of the Měšťanský pivovar (afterwards known as Prazdroj) and PAP (Gambrinus).
- 13 September 1946 Nationalization of both breweries and creation of a single national company, Plzeňské pivovary.
- 1 Jun 1964 Formation of the company Západočeské pivovary with registered office in Pilsen. Creation of the national company Plzeňský Prazdroj with regard to ownership of trademarks and contact with customers abroad.
- November 1989 Fundamental changes initiated for the company's entire organisation.
- 1 May 1992 Following privatization the joint stock company Plzeňské pivovary, a.s. is established. Major investment, technological development, rise in output and exports, development of business and distribution network, marketing.
- 1994 Formation of joint stock company Plzeňský Prazdroj.
- 1999 Merger approved with the companies Pivovar RADEGAST a. s., and Pivovar Velké Popovice a. s.
- 1999 Plzeňský Prazdroj, a. s. becomes part of South African Breweries.
- Apr 2002 Pilsner Urquell was voted beer of the year at the Helsinki Beer Festival.
- 30 September 2002 merger completed with the companies Pivovar RADEGAST a. s., and Pivovar Velké Popovice a. s. This resulted in the formation of a single joint stock company called Plzeňský Prazdroj, a. s.
The Brewery Museum is located in the authentic medieval brewing house with malt house, which has been declared a cultural monument.
The Museum includes the late Gothic malt house, kiln, original drying shed and two-level laying-down cellars with ice-cellar, which are hewn from the Pilsen substrata. The exhibition covers Pilsen's most ancient history, the development of crafts, the emergence and growth of the guilds, the beginnings and development of brewing, malting, the craft of cooper, haulage and catering.
The tour includes a replica of a pub from the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries and a laboratory from the second half of the 19th century. The city walls have been opened with an example of the cultivation of barley and hops.