Václav Berka: We brew with the Master

A walk through the Pilsner Urquell brewery
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Trade Brewmaster Václav Berka took the time to walk us through the Pilsner Urquell brewery. Here he shares his stories and knowledge to give expats an inside view of the beer we love. With literally generations of experience working with Pilsner Urquell, there is no one better to speak with about the past, present, and bright future of the brewery that gave us the golden brew known as Lager. Pilsner Urquell has maintained its quality through the centuries, introduced unpasteurized tank beer, and will no doubt continue to set trends in the beer world.

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“Pilsner Urquell means “pilsner from original source”. Last year, the consumption of beer, generally, around the world was about 1.8 billion hectoliters, and more than two-thirds of this beer is in [the] category Pils, Pilsner, Pilsener, or lager. This beer, this category, was born in this small city in Pilsen, in West Bohemia.

Here in this kettle is where we make mashing. The mashing process is opening these complicated sugars for yeast cells. This creates all these tastes and aromas and specific parameters of Pilsner Urquell.

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We say beer has three main enemies: temperature, time, and light. We know that the beer is best as fresh as is possible. It’s not like wine, which could still grow in quality, but beer is the best [to] drink immediately. Maybe, in the cellars.

In the last 6 or 7 years, we founded trade brewmasters, because we recognized that in pubs the beer was not as good as we had wished. We say we should check all the way, from brewery gate to mug or glass, to be sure that they have the same experience like we do in the cellars. Yeah, it’s okay.

My father was working at this brewery, and the third generation of Václav Berka was working in the malting plant. I was connected with this area, with this atmosphere of brewery, and over there is the brewing set that I brewed my first brew, when I was 16. It was funny. I felt very proud.

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My main job now is to train the people on this supply chain, our employees, people who transport the beer, or people in pubs who manipulate the beer, who serve the beer, how to properly clean the pipe lines, how to properly clean the glasses, how to serve it properly.

I taste different styles of beer, not only lagers; ales, stouts, IPAs, wheat beers, different styles which were born in different places around the world, to find new inspiration in these brands or in these categories. But every time I come back lagers, to Pilsner Urquell. Excellent. Thanks, God.”

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