Located just 60 miles from Prague, Plzen is an easy day trip. It’s the Czech Republic’s second largest city after Prague and is home to Pilsner Urquell beer.
Founded in 1842, Pilsner Urquell beer has inspired many of the world’s beers labeled “Pils”, “Pilsner” or “Pilsener”.
The tour of the Pilsner Urquell brewery allows you to see the historic brew house, its modern equivalent that can produce 120,000 bottles per hour, a museum, and takes you underground to see the historic cellars where beer was aged in wood barrels that were rolled through the stone passageways. The system of passageways covers over 8 miles. Your tour underground ends with a glass of beer poured from one of the oak barrels. The oak barrels do NOT contain beer produced in the modern brew house, but rather smaller unfiltered and unpasteurized batches which are then stored in the barrels. Make sure to bring a coat with you for the underground portion, it’s cold and damp down there!
Every year the Pilsner Urquell coopers (barrel makers) make two new barrels to replace old or damaged barrels. They use slow growing oak from the woods located halfway between Plnez and Prague. Twice a year the coopers re-pitch (re-coat) the barrels. I love watching how they roll the barrels in this video.
I really feel this was the best behind the scenes tour I have ever been on. It really gives you a sense of the craftsmanship and history of this label that ends with a taste of the finished product. Na zdravi! (cheers).