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Jun 24, 2006 04:32 AM

Help me break free from Pilsner Urquell

Help a beer novice break away from Pilsner Urquell. I love it, but there must be another pilsner just as good out there! Suggestions? Am I forever stuck in Plzen?!?

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  1. I drink Summit Grand a Pilsner based on Pilsner Urquel. It is a St. Paul, MN regional brew.

    1. Plzen is the original and to my taste the best. Even though the new owners (SAB) have changed production a bit, a true Pilsner should be aged more than 2-4 days (as it seems most knock offs are) and should have a great "round" flavor. Most konock off's a thin, pale and sharp. If I could only have one last beer, it would be a fresh, original Plzen.

      1. There are plenty of beers as good or better than Pilsner Urquell ... which is indeed a good beer!

        If you are looking for a lager from a large brewer that is distributed pretty widely, I suggest Stella Artois from Belgium.

        Also I would strongly urge you to explore several craft beers at a local, well-stocked beer store. You can do this by picking up a couple of six-packs, and some places will allow you to create your own mixed six-pack. Most good beer stores have people who would be happy to guide you through your selection.

        Try a couple of non-pilsner/lager brews, too. During the summer, I like witbiers (Molson Coors makes one called Blue Moon), India pale ales, saisons and some of the German wheat beers.

        Who said "research" had to be boring?

        16 Replies
        1. re: Kirk

          Stella being better than Pilsner Urquell? Surely you must be joking.

          Stella is the Bud of European beers.

          1. re: Sir Gawain

            Chacun à son goût.

            As I said, Stella is a lager from a large brewer that is distributed widely, exactly like Pilsner Urquell -- which I suppose could be called the Miller of European beers, and indeed with more accuracy.

            The OP asked for alternatives to PU, not recommendations for the world's greatest beer. What would your nominations be for that, Sir Gawain?

            1. re: Kirk

              For staying within the genre - and I am by no means a huge Pilsner fan, not my favorite style - I think you might want to try Czechvar first of all (from a good importer; it's slightly sweeter and lighter but definitely a pilsner), BrouCzech (brewed in Nova Paka and available in the US), Herold as others have said, and the Slovak beer, Zlaty bazant (although it was better pre-Heineken acquisition).

              The problem with Pilsner Urquell in the US is that it skunks quickly. But if you're in the LA or NYC area, try to get yourself invited to Czech Consulate events and you'll have good fresh Czech beer - and for free! :-D

              If you are EVER in the Czech Republic, the absolute best beer - yes, and that's the objective truth - comes from a little microbrewery in Moravia in a town called Stramberk. The beer, called Trubac/Troobacz (comes in light and dark) isn't bottled and is unpasteurized. THE BEST, and still a secret even to most Czechs.

              1. re: Sir Gawain

                Thanks for the recommendations! I've seen Czechvar locally, and will try it and any of the others I can find. Unfortunately, I am not on the invitation list for Czech Consulate events here in Dallas, so I may have to pay my own way to explore these! :-D

                But I will definitely put Stramberk on my list of places to visit should I find myself in Moravia.

                1. re: Sir Gawain

                  In NYC, though I've never been to the Czech consulate, the Pilsner Urquell on tap at the Astoria beer garden (Bohemian Hall) is a dramatically different animal from what you pick up at the liquor store. I imagine this applies to any Czech bar/beer garden on either coast or in-between.

                  1. re: Spoony Bard

                    You are so right about the beer garden. The beer I had there was better than any I have ever had. It was ridiculously fresh. I tried them all. Making it back to Manhattan was tricky after that, but all in the name of research!

                  2. re: Sir Gawain

                    I had a Czechvar last week at a Serbian diner. Quite nice - nice round flavor, not too dry and with a sweet edge (just as you described). I liked it, and like you, I'm not much on pilsners either.

                    OP might want to try some of the Belgian or Belgian-style ales too. Chimay is quite acessable (Trader Joe's usually stocks them at a good price), and if he picks up one of each of their brews in the 750ml bottles - tripple, red and blue - they are a nice intro to this huge array of incredible beers. And if the OP drinks them in that order (I would suggest with at least one friend), it will be an appropriate progression from light to heaven...

                2. re: Sir Gawain

                  Bud is better. There was another thread about the marketing ploys of Stella.

                  1. re: Passadumkeg

                    Bud is disgusting. Easily the most disgusting beer I have ever drank.

                    If you want a good cheap beer you NEED to try Yuengling.

                    1. re: johnlance

                      Why is Bud disgusting, and what's so great about Yuengling?

                      1. re: Jim Dorsch

                        People say that all the time and I don't get it. Bud, Bud Light, etc don't taste bad they just lack real character (particularly Bud Light or any light beer). "Disgusting" would be a more understandable reaction if the beer were say a rauchbier or a sour because they're so unusual tasting to many (not me, luv em both).


                        1. re: Chinon00

                          I certainly hear that all the time about rauchbier! "Tastes like beef jerky!" I love it, too, as well as sour beer.

                          1. re: Jim Dorsch

                            See, I wouldn't have minded my first impression being "beef jerky". Mine was "smoked fish". I remember a couple of bottles of a six pack I bought in the late 1970's (I think it was Kaiserdom's back then rather than Schlenkerla- came in a light amber stubby/steinie-ish bottle similar to the Kindl Berliner Weisse bottle) that spent years in my refrigerator (labels fell off and caps started to rust due to the humidity, etc). Probably sat around longer than any other beer until I started a cellar.

                            I can appreciate it more today, but I still go months or years between bottles (and still sometimes think "smoked whiting" when I first take a sip).

                            I had a friend who was in the service stationed in West Germany in the early 1960's and his impression was "it was like smoking a cigarette and drinking a beer at the same time!" Hmmm... sounds great.

                            I bought him a few bottles of Schlenkerla once when I told him it was easily available in the US. He didn't really care for it anymore (not much of a beer drinker now- that was in his wild youth running tanks across German farmers' fields...) so I got to take home the rest of them.

                          2. re: Chinon00

                            I think American adjunct lagers are specifically designed to be bland and to not offend anyone. Unfortunately, that also means they have next to no flavor. It's unclear to me whether the Big 3 American brewers are responding to the bland American beer drinking preference or whether Americans buy bland beer because that's what they're being sold for the most part. I would think that anyone who drinks say Trumer Pils or Victory next to bud lite or miller would opt for Trumer or Victory every time, but I could be wrong.

                            1. re: chuckl

                              I think that some people fear a flavorful beer, just like I fear stinky cheese.

                              People do change, but I think it's gradual, and I'm sure many drink macro beer in some circumstances and imports or craft in others. It's nonetheless hard for me to understand, since I never drink macro lager, except when I'm trying to prove a point. I drank a Bud a while back (to prove a point) and I did OK with it. I also drank an entire 24oz can of Hurricane High Gravity one time, just to say I did.

                        2. re: johnlance

                          John Lance, I think I was drinking Yuengling, before you were born, sonny. My family were coal miners from Schuylkill Co., Pa. Funny we wouldn't drink Yuengling at an area college in the 60's, we went for cheaper stuff like Gibbon's Ale. I like Yuengling's now, but can't get it this far north.
                          Drinking a warm Bud sitting on top of a bunker in 'Nam in '67-68, watching the sun set, gave me a life long affection for this brew. Just don't give a lite beer of any shape, form or variety.

                  2. Trumer and Blue Paddle are both excellent pilsners widely available in the Bay Area (often on tap). Trumer is brewed in Berkeley, Blue Paddle is brewed by the New Belguim Brewing Company in Colorado.

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: Morton the Mousse

                      Yes, Trumer Pils is wonderful. Haven't had it on tap yet, but it is available by the bottle in select locations in AZ. Wow. The same wonderful depth of flavor and balance between malt and hops like Urquell, but (imho) a fresher, more complex taste. I also love pilsners, and this is the first I've had in the US that tasted as good overall as the best European pilsners do in Europe.


                      1. re: Phoo D

                        I'm so ashamed! Of course I should be tasting Trumer Pils. I live in Oakland and they're right next door. This evening I'm off to find a bar serving it on tap. I will not rest until sampling the local pils! Thanks Morton and Phoo!

                        1. re: waste49

                          It's probably hard to find around Oakland, but the Troeg's Sunshine Pils is great. As is the previously mentioned Prima Pils by Victory.

                    2. If you like pilsener and you live in the U.S., your choices will no doubt be disappointingly few. In my experience, there aren't many widely distributed pilseners in the U.S. worth the glass bottles they're in. It is, however, the most popular style of beer in Germany and the Czech Republic (go figure). Becks and Urquell (German and Czech, respectively) have wide U.S. distribution, but brew it here in the States (and have a slightly changed formula, I believe). Moreover, the beer is usually served too cold when had in a bottle at a bar. When visiting the two countries, I found their competitors to offer far more interesting pilseners -- some less bitter, some more malty, some more hops-y. It's a shame that most don't make it across the pond, but you might find a more obscure Pils at a specialty store. Alas, the difference in price versus in-EU on such a bottle is likely to be several hundred percent.

                      Becks is any easy find, but it's an average German pilsener, though I do like it more than Urquell. Krušovice is my favorite of the easier-to-find Czech beers. Not sure about their U.S. distribution, but it's small if any. Löwenbräu, a Munich pilsener, is easier to find, but really quite bitter. Additionally, my favorite Polish beer is a pilsener called Żywiec, and with luck you can find it in the States. About half the bars in Greenpoint, Brooklyn serve it, owing to the Polish population here.


                      4 Replies
                      1. re: steven

                        Last I checked, Beck's and Pilsner Urquell are both brewed in their home countries for US sale.

                        1. re: steven

                          Krusovice was one of my favorite beers when visiting Prague. Sadly, I have not been able to find it anywhere in Boston, even at the stores that carry a large range or imports. Guess another trip is in order.

                          1. re: Ali G

                            I'm replying to a 2-year old comment, so you may have already located this beer in the Boston area.

                            If not, you can get Kruscovice at the Wine&Cheese Cask in Somerville. I just polished off a pint...good stuff!

                          2. re: steven

                            Pilsner Urquell is NOT brewed in the US, but it is true that the US-export formula is slightly different and not nearly as good as the real thing on tap.