Meet the lager family: Czech Pilsner

Adrian Tierney-Jones

Adrian Tierney-Jones

26 November 2019

The epitome of lad culture, lager is sometimes seen as a one-dimensional beer style. But there are more characters and personalities in the world of lager than you and your customers might think. Adrian Tierney-Jones introduces us to them in this six-part series


Czech Pilsner

Family member: Mum the matriarch

Czech pilsner is the head of the family, whose genesis in the mid-19th century began the trend for gold-coloured beers and since then has been copied across the world. In the Czech brewing fraternity, only Pilsner Urquell is allowed to be called a pilsner, but for most of the country’s breweries their everyday pale lager (otherwise known as svetlý ležák) is undoubtedly a pilsner.

Keeping it in the family

Some of mum’s friends

Bohem Brewery Amos
Signature beer of a London Czech-owned brewery.
4.9% abv, £1.89/440ml, Bohem Brewery

Brick Brewery Peckham Pils
Floral, spicy and citrusy palate-refresher hailing from Peckham.
4.8% abv, £85.51/30-litre keg, Eebria Trade

Golden in colour, with a gentle aroma of toasted malt and the earthy spiciness of the Saaz hop. On the palate it is brisk but soft in its carbonation, with a medium-to-full mouthfeel, a crisp genuflection of malt, a light dash of citrus and a dry, bittersweet finish. It is served with a fluffy white head of foam.

Favourite story

Mum likes to tell the tale of how in 1842 the burghers of Pilsen hired a Bavarian brewer called Josef Groll to improve the local beer. Groll used lightly kilned malted barley (resulting in a lighter colour), the Bohemian hop variety Saaz and, with the help of the town’s soft water, produced a top-notch beer that came to be called Pilsner Urquell. The beer and its style soon travelled worldwide.

Gets on well with

Mum is a social beer, a crisp and refreshing drop ideal for a night out with friends. The very best Czech pilsners chatter away in the glass. They are insightful in the way they tickle the taste-buds, and go just as well on their own as they do with dishes such as fish and chips or grilled chicken.

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