#TANKOVNA: Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Pilsner Urquell

12 Aug 2014, BeerEvents

At Draft House we spend a lot of my time bashing the Big Brewing Behemoths (BBBs). It’s kind of part of who we are.

So you can imagine when S.A.Miller (the 2nd biggest BBB in the world) approached me to buy in Pilsner Urquell I was all like ‘whatever – you know where you can stick that idea [etc etc]’.

But a smooth-talking and genuinely nice South African chap from S.A.Miller called Francois said it’s the best beer in the world and talked me into a trip to Czech. More precisely, to Plzen (that’s Pilsen to you – the birthplace of lager).

And…he said he’d install four beautiful, huge, original Czech copper tanks into Draft House Seething. Every week on a Wednesday, a tanker would arrive from Plzen and decant 1000s of litres of original unpasteurised, fresh, original brewery beer straight into the tanks for the delectation of the Draft House customer.

The coup de grace may have been the offer to take all of our hard-working General Managers along to Czech at the same time.

So far, so good…and well…we went.

I love Prague, and I love Czech. So, tick – all good. And the truly magnificent Vaclav Berka (see top for picture with yours truly) was worth the trip on his own. He is the guardian of quality at Pilner Urquell and gave us an epic and extremely bibulous lunch in the brewery canteen. I would say his average sip of the gold stuff is around 250ml.

But I must say I can take or leave a BBB brewery tour. It’s all corporate videos and awesomely cool stuff about how they put malt, hops, water and – wait for it – yeast in their beer. Boom!

So I did a little e-mail in front of the video and tried to keep my eyes open so as not to miss out on the free beer we’d been promised.

BUT THEN…we descended deep underground to the cellars – carved by the good burgers of Plzen from the living rock to enable them to make their unique, clear, golden beer. We walked 100s of metres through these man-made caverns and – judging from the 19th century map on the wall at the entrance – only saw a fraction of them.

And lo! a man in a Pilsener Urquell fleece started pouring beers straight from an oak barrel. At that moment there was a thunder-clap (I’m not making this up) and the cellars resounded with muffled booming and the clatter of rain leaking through onto the flagstone floors from the hand-carved ceiling above.

And there we tasted the beer, straight from an oak barrel. And it was good. In fact, it was F**KING FANTASTIC. We just stood there getting wet, drinking the nectar of the Gods.

And at that moment I was sold: hook line and sinker. And I had to learn to put away childish things and learn to tolerate the BBBs. Because, at least in this one instance, there is literally nothing not to love about Pilsner Urquell.

Long story short, we said YES to BBB. And the huge, beautiful Czech copper tanks are being installed at Draft House Seething as I write.

So come on down on September 2nd (Tuesday) to Draft House Seething (just by Tower Hill tube) and taste the #TANKOVNA (tank beer in Czech). It really is something else and we’ll be giving it away on the night.

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