Pilsner Urquell Brewery

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This article is for the brewery, for the beer it produces, see Pilsner Urquell

Coordinates: 49°44′48″N 13°23′14″E / 49.746758°N 13.387243°E / 49.746758; 13.387243

Pilsner Urquell (Plzeňský prazdroj)
Industry Alcoholic beverage
Founded 1842
Headquarters Pilsen, Czech Republic
Products Beer
Revenue CZK 15 billion (2010)
Owner SABMiller
Website http://www.pilsner-urquell.com

Pilsner Urquell Brewery (Czech: Plzeňský Prazdroj, a. s., pronounced [ˈpl̩zɛɲskiː ˈprazdroj a ɛs]) is a brewery in Plzeň, the Bohemian city which is known as the birthplace of the Pilsener beer style in general, and for Pilsner Urquell, since 1898 the name of the main product of this brewery. Both Plzeňský Prazdroj and Pilsner Urquell can be roughly translated into English as "the Fountainhead at Pilsen" or "the original source of Pilsner".


Brewery gate

The brewery was founded in 1839 by both local German-speaking and Czech-speaking citizens as Bürgerbrauerei (citizens' brewery, later translated to Měšťanský pivovar in Czech). The first beer was brewed in 1842 by Bavarian brewer Josef Groll. In 1859, “Pilsner Bier”[1] was registered as a brand name at the local Chamber of Commerce and Trade. In 1869, a competitor was founded as a joint stock company, later known as Gambrinus. In 1898 the Urquell (Prazdroj) trade mark was created, to underline the claim of being the older, original source of Pilsner beer. In 1918, when the Austrian Empire ceased to exist, Czechs took over control, and soon began renaming cities, companies and products alike to give them Czech-language names. In 1946, communists took over, nationalising the remaining two breweries, Měšťansky pivovar (the Citizens' brewery), and Plzeňské akciové pivovary (PAP, the stock company), merging them into the single Plzeňské pivovary (Pilsen breweries).

After the fall of communism in late 1989, the brewery was turned into a public share company, then renamed in 1994 after the Czech name of their famous beer, Plzeňský Prazdroj. In 1999, they started to merge with Pivovar Radegast a.s. and Pivovar Velké Popovice a. s..

The brewery has been part of the SABMiller group of companies (at the time South African Breweries) since 1999.[2] It has been the largest exporter of beer produced in the Czech Republic since 2000 when production surpassed that of Budějovický Budvar.[3]


  • 1295 City of Pilsen established, beginnings of brewing.
  • 1307 First recorded mention of the existence of an actual brewery with malt house.
  • 1839 Burghers in Pilsen decide to found the Burgess' Brewery (Bürgerbrauerei, Měšťanský pivovar)
  • 15 September 1839 – autumn 1840 Construction of the Burgess' Brewery, forerunner of today's brewery.
  • 5 October 1842 First brew of Bavarian type beer, bottom-fermented beer, so-called pale lager.
  • 1 March 1859 "Pilsner Bier" brand name registered at the Chamber of Commerce and Trade in Pilsen.
  • 2nd half of 19th century Brewery expands in Europe, first exports from Pilsen to America.
  • 1869 Competitor founded as First Stock Brewery (První akciový pivovar), today known as Gambrinus.
  • 1898 New Urquell/Prazdrojtrade mark created.
  • 1910 Světovar - Český Plzeňský pivovar akciové společnosti v Plzni.
  • 1913 Output over 100 million litres of beer, commercial representation in 34 countries.
  • 1925 - 1933 Merger of several Pilsen breweries.
  • 1933 Two breweries remain in Pilsen: Měšťanský pivovar and Plzeňské akciové pivovary (PAP), with the majority of PAP shares being owned by Měšťanský pivovar.
  • 1 June 1945 National administration for companies owned by Měšťanský pivovar in Pilsen . National administration took over management of the Měšťanský pivovar (afterwards known as Prazdroj) and PAP (Gambrinus).
  • 13 September 1946 Nationalization of both breweries and creation of a single national company, Plzeňské pivovary.
  • 1 Jun 1964 Formation of the company Západočeské pivovary with registered office in Pilsen. Creation of the national company Plzeňský Prazdroj with regard to ownership of trademarks and contact with customers abroad.
  • November 1989 Fundamental changes initiated for the company's entire organisation.
  • 1 May 1992 Following privatization the joint stock company Plzeňské pivovary, a.s. is established. Major investment, technological development, rise in output and exports, development of business and distribution network, marketing.
  • 1994 Formation of joint stock company Plzeňský Prazdroj.
  • 1999 Merger approved with the companies Pivovar RADEGAST a. s., and Pivovar Velké Popovice a. s.
  • 1999 Plzeňský Prazdroj, a. s. becomes part of South African Breweries.
  • Apr 2002 Pilsner Urquell was voted beer of the year at the Helsinki Beer Festival.
  • 30 September 2002 merger completed with the companies Pivovar RADEGAST a. s., and Pivovar Velké Popovice a. s. This resulted in the formation of a single joint stock company called Plzeňský Prazdroj, a. s.



Traditional fermenting building (center) and modern fermenting building (left) in Pilsner Urquell Brewery

A brewery museum ("Pivovarské muzeum") has been set up near the brewery in the authentic medieval brewing house with malt house, which has been declared a cultural monument. It includes the late Gothic malt house, kiln, original drying shed and two-level laying-down cellars with ice-cellar, which are hewn from the Pilsen substrata. The exhibition covers Pilsen's most ancient history, the development of crafts, the emergence and growth of the guilds, the beginnings and development of brewing, malting, the craft of cooper, haulage and catering.

The tour includes a replica of a pub from the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries and a laboratory from the second half of the 19th century. The city walls have been opened with an example of the cultivation of barley and hops.

The museum has become an anchor for the European Route of Industrial Heritage.[4]

Pilsner Fest[edit]

Pilsner Fest is a two-day beer festival held each year by the brewery, with music by local bands on four stages in the town.[5]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Plzeňský Prazdroj, a. s
  2. ^ History of Plzensky Prazdroj, www.prazdroj.cz
  3. ^ Historie a.s. Plzeňský Prazdroj, www.pivovary.info (Czech)
  4. ^ "ERIH Entry: Pilsner Urquell Brewery". European Route of Industrial Heritage. 2014. Retrieved 15 January 2015. 
  5. ^ "Pilsner Fest Pilsen". czechtourism.com. Retrieved 2014-11-09. 

External links[edit]