czech republic

Pilsner Urquell: control subject?

Another Prague post we didn’t get round to putting up at the time…

On our first night in Prague, we grappled with a complex logic puzzle at the central station: how to buy an 18 crown tube ticket with a 2000 crown note, when everything is shut? It took us nearly an hour to make it to our hotel, by which time we were very grumpy indeed.

Fortunately, the pub across the road (U Ceskeho Lva) happened to serve Pilsner Urquell ‘tankova’. Tankova dispense is some complicated arrangement where the nasty gases used to pressurise the beer don’t come into contact with the beer itself, but push it out of a bag, resulting in a rather gentle, natural carbonation. It’s also unpasteurised, unlike the usual product. Nice. We sank several pints very easily and a bit too quickly.

It tasted just fantastic to us.

Five nights later, having made a whistle-stop tour of as many pubs and breweries as we could, we’d got a better handle on Czech beer, so when we returned for one final pint of tankova PU, we weren’t as blown away. It seemed a bit clinical; rather sharp; one dimensional. Where was the fruitiness; the body; the yeasty complexity of all those other beers we’d tried?

For all that, it’s still a great beer, and one we’ll continue to seek out in London. Our home city is a hard place to get decent pale lager, hence our enthusiasm for Meantime’s products, Moravka, Budvar and Urquell – and, for that matter, our tolerance for Staropramen.

You make the most of what you’ve got, right? And perception of quality is relative.

For more on tankova beers, this post by Pivni Filosof is very informative, as is Evan Rail’s Czech beer guide.

2 replies on “Pilsner Urquell: control subject?”

You’re spot on there – we are spoilt rotten for lager over here (unsurprising really). I rarely drink draught Czech lager whenever I am in the UK on the grounds that I have yet to have one with a proper head and you guys have all that ale that we don’t. 😉

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