I’ve been meaning to write this review for well over a month, but every time I get hold of some Pilsner Urquell, I sit and drink it and forget to take any notes or photographs. It’s just so damn enjoyable! Then yesterday I heard a rumour (still awaiting official confirmation) that SAB are going to stop distributing PU in South Africa. This made me very sad and here’s why:
To all the “mass-produced lager”-type snobs, this might come as something of a shock, but Pilsner Urquell is a fine beer. A damn fine beer. One of the best beers available in South Africa, I would say.It looks pretty, it’s full of aroma, has plenty of flavour, is a fine showcase of both malt and hops and yet is endlessly drinkable (and hence so difficult to review as I kept finishing bottles in the sun before remembering what it was I’d bought the beer for in the first place). PU starts off with a fairly strong malt aroma – kind of biscuity, like Graham Crackers. And then you get a touch of floral spice – there’s more than a kiss of the Saaz hop here. We’re talking at least a one-night stand, if not a dirty weekend away.
I find PU a very difficult beer to describe. It’s subtle and yet full of flavour; refreshing and just so terribly well-balanced. Even the newest of beer novices instantly understands what malt tastes like when they take a sip. And then there’s the hops. The style formerly known as Bohemian Pilsner (in the 2015 BJCP guidelines, it falls under the Czech Premium Pale Lager category) is not shy in the hop department, though don’t expect IPA-like fruity/pineyness. PU is full of crispness and spice. And balance. Just so much of balance.
The big news about Pilsner Urquell a few weeks back was that they had changed the packaging. Gone forever are the lightstruck-inviting green bottles, replaced with retro brown glass and a brand-new old-style label. Now it seems that the news could be much, much worse. Writing this review has made me terribly thirsty for a glass of the orginal pilsner and yet if the rumours are right, we might soon see it disappear from our fridges. Microbrewers – it’s on you to brew us a replacement…