Podcast Episode 296: Pilsner Urquell’s Václav Berka Tells the Story of Pilsner and Preaches Excellence in Lager Brewing

In the first of several episodes recorded in Czechia, retired Pilsner Urquell brewmaster Václav Berka relates the history of the brewery—and therefore of pilsner itself—and shares his love of all the details that go into producing a highly drinkable beer.

Jamie Bogner Mar 25, 2023 - 6 min read

Podcast Episode 296: Pilsner Urquell’s Václav Berka Tells the Story of Pilsner and Preaches Excellence in Lager Brewing Primary Image

Václav Berka. Photo: Joe Stange.

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The sandstone cellars of Plzeňský Prazdroj—better known to us as Pilsner Urquell—may be the ideal place to wallow in the history of the world’s most popular beer style with brewmaster emeritus Václav Berka. As the brewery’s 13th brewmaster in a line that stretches back to Josef Groll, there are few people better qualified to recount the story of pilsner, discuss the details of how it’s brewed at its birthplace in Plzeň, and offer suggestions on how to brew an excellent and addictive one in your own brewery.

Among other topics, Berka discusses:

  • Pilsner Urquell’s pivotal role in the history of modern beer
  • the elements of Pilsner Urquell, from malting their own barley and the city’s famously soft water to generous hopping with Saaz and the house lager yeast
  • how control over the malting is directly related to the brewery’s traditional triple-decoction mash
  • about the Pilsner Urquell that is still fermented and matured on oak, to compare to the large-scale commercial batches (and to share on the popular tours)
  • the overarching importance of drinkability to pilsner and to Czech beer, and thoughts on purusing excellence in lager brewing

And more.

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Jamie Bogner is the Cofounder and Editorial Director of Craft Beer & Brewing Magazine®. Email him at [email protected].