Pilsner Urquell and Lagunitas Czech Pils


Beer Stats for Pilsner Urquell

Container: 12 Oz. Bottle
ABV:    4.4%
Style:  Czech Pilsner
Brewer: Pilsner Urquell

LUDB Notes:

  • Bitterness Level:  Medium
  • Drinkability:
    • Would I purchase again?  Yes
    • Would I stock it?  Yes
    • Distinguishing Characteristics:  Thick foamy head, bitterness consistent throughout


Beer Stats for Lagunitas Czech Pilsner

Container: 12 Oz. Bottle
ABV:    6.0%
Style:  Czech Pilsner
Brewer: Lagunitas Brewing

LUDB Notes:

  • Bitterness Level:  Medium
  • Drinkability:
    • Would I purchase again?  Yes
    • Would I stock it?  No
    • Distinguishing Characteristics:  Higher in ABV than most Czech Pilsners,  slightly higher in bitterness which lingers into aftertaste

You can’t sample old world style beers without going right to Czech Pilsners.  As I work my way through these various styles, I like to try an “original” and an American version at the same time.  This allows me to compare and contrast using the old world product as a sort of benchmark.  Granted, it’s not a perfect way to compare beers; but it’s very helpful to me in learning the nuances of particular breweries.  So for this review, what is more appropriate than using Pilsner Urquell as the benchmark!  I selected Lagunitas Czech Pilsner fairly randomly.

It’s been quite some time since I have drunk a Pilsner Urquell, with my faint memory of it being that it tasted and smelled a little “skunked”.  To my pleasant surprise, this one did not.  I noted that it comes in a brown bottle instead of the more familiar green one I remembered.  I don’t know exactly when they switched; but I suspect the better taste was aided by the switch to the brown bottle.  Anyway, this Czech Pilsner pours a brilliant, golden-yellow with good retention of its white, fluffy head.  In keeping with local tradition, this Pilsner begs for a hard pour to produce the desired head.  The blossoming carbonation releases subtle aromas of floral hops.  That bready malts aroma is there; but barely detectable. Flavors are well-balanced between bitter Saaz hops and sweet, caramel malts (Moravian Barley).  The bitterness runs consistently start, middle and finish.  Finishes with a medium, drying bitterness – just right.  It is crisp and refreshing and leaves no doubt about it being the benchmark for Czech Pilsner.

It’s no surprise, but you get a slightly different experience with Lagunitas Czech Pilsner.  It pours with a brilliant, slightly lighter gold color than Pilsner Urquell; but with a similar white, fluffy head and head retention.  Now Lagunitas says they use Saaz hops; however, you get a noticeably different, more citrus aroma and bitterness.  They obviously accentuate the hops a little more in their process.  Malts flavors are not noticeably different.  The bitterness is medium, but balanced and lingers into the aftertaste.  It completes your journey with a dry, bitterness.  All in all, a solid rendition of a Czech Pilsner with enough differences to be interesting.

Both Pilsners are crisp and refreshing and fit the bill for a year round beer.  One thing I have learned from the brewmaster at Arches Brewing here in Atlanta is that water is extremely important to the final product and sometimes the most neglected ingredient in the brewing process.  The local soft water of Plzen gives Pilsner Urquell nice smooth mouth-feel and plays a big role in making it a challenge to replicate the style. But that’s okay because as beer drinkers we often prefer uniqueness.  One big thing to remember to truly enjoy any Czech Pilsner is, don’t be mamby-pamby with the pour!

Bottom line: both are very enjoyable beers and would be perfect for hot summer days or cheery Holiday celebrations.

Until next time…Let Us Drink Beer!

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