Tag Archives: Czech Republic

98. Pilsner Urquell

It may not always be obvious, but I do try to think about how to make some of these posts interesting for both my readers. And I had wondered what I could find to say about Pilsner Urquell, a beer that you can find by the bottle in any supermarket in the land.

So when the very pleasant The Canonbury up in North London announced they were to hold a Pilsner Urquell Oak Barrel Event this weekend, Threehundredbeers was predictably first on the scene.

Pilsner Urquell Oak Barrel Event

What we have here is unfiltered, unpasteurised Pilsner Urquell, drained directly from the lagering tanks at the brewery in Pilsen into a very limited number of oak casks, and then promptly escorted over to the UK to be dispensed by gravity into the glasses of eagerly waiting beer nerds who come from far and wide. All for the regular price of a pint of the keg stuff.

Having got in early, the beer was still settling when I arrived, and the first pint was mostly froth. It turned into actual beer quickly and I was invited to return for as many refills as I fancied, so I was a very happy camper indeed.

Oak Barelled Pilsner Urquell

As you can see, the beer is a beautiful cloudy amber colour. CAMRA types should take note that this is what “real” beer actually looks like, rather than the artificially, chemically clarified stuff they seem to prefer.

The aroma is absolutely huge for a lager, and full of Pilsner malts, oak and restrained, floral hops. Being served at room temperature certainly helps.

To taste, the beer is quite subtle and delicate at first. It’s full bodied and malty though, all Digestives and Rich Tea biscuits. This is not a sledgehammer of a beer. Instead it takes its time, and quietly works its way up to a gigantic, bitter finish, leaving you wanting more immediately. Back in the queue we go.

This really is special. It’s still a lager, but with all the flavours turned up to 11. There’s even banana fruit and a caramel richness in there, but absolutely zero sweetness. In fact this is one of the driest beers I’ve come across in a long time, and I like that.

I was told that the oaked Pilsner Urquell is the same strength as the regular stuff, which is 4.4%. Now, maybe I didn’t have enough breakfast before setting off, but this one went to my head much quicker than a beer of that strength usually would. I’ll survive.

Sadly, the last of this year’s oaked Pilsner Urquell consignment has been drunk now, but I can strongly recommend keeping your eyes peeled for future events, and making your way along if some does turn up. I certainly shall.

Facts and Figures

Brewery: Plzeňský Prazdroj, Pilsen, Czech Republic
Style: Pilsners
Strength: 4.4% ABV
Found at: The Canonbury, Canonbury Place, London N1
Serving: Oak cask, gravity, somewhat more than a pint

85. Budweiser Budvar

Allow me, dear reader, to take you on a brief stroll down Memory Lane, or a least down St. Martin’s Lane, to a magnificent little pub in the heart of London’s West End named The Salisbury.

The Salisbury is a bit of a stunner: a proper old Victorian pub, with a well preserved Gin Palace interior full of etched mirrors, brass statuary and wood panelling, and more history than you can shake a stick at.

This is a pub where Dylan Thomas, Michael Caine and Terence Stamp have drunk, where Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton held their second wedding reception, and where Gered Mankowitz famously photographed a beautiful 27-year-old Marianne Faithfull in the 1960s.

Now, bear with me when I tell you that we’re going to have a pint of lager.


It’s a good, Czech lager all the same and—you may be surprised to learn—it’s what I used to drink of a far-too-regular lunch hour or evening in the Salisbury many years ago, when I used to work just around the corner. See, Memory Lane after all.

There isn’t much to say about Budvar itself, in all honesty, unless one wants to read all about their legal struggles with Anheuser Busch once again, in which case go here. It’s a fizzy, golden confection, quite drinkable as lagers go, with a malty, floral taste and a slightly sweet finish. But it’s served here in peak condition, and in the correct glassware, which is why I brought you back here.

Beer aside, it’s great to see that The Salisbury is still in good hands: manager Jas is still in charge, running a tight ship as always, keeping the pub resolutely sports-free, and effortlessly switching between languages as he guides tourists through a minefield of unfamiliar beers and British pub customs.

Easily one of the better pubs in the area, a bit of nostalgia for your correspondent, and that’s 85 beers ticked off. If that was a bit boring, I have number 100 sat in The Official 300 Beers Cellar (my kitchen) and I can almost taste it now.

Facts and Figures

Brewery: Budějovický Budvar, České Budějovice, Czech Republic
Style: Pale Lagers
Strength: 5.0% ABV
Found at: The Salisbury, St. Martin’s Lane, London WC2N
Serving: Keg, pint