Josef Groll (21 August 1813, Vilshofen an der Donau – 22 November 1887, Vilshofen) was a Bavarian brewer, best known for his invention of Pilsner beer. He is known as "the Father of the Pils". The world's first-ever pale lager, his Pilsner Urquell was highly successful, and served as the inspiration for more than two-thirds of the beer produced in the world today.
The citizens of Pilsen, Bohemia (today in the Czech Republic) were no longer satisfied with their top-fermented Oberhefenbier. They publicly emptied several casks of beer in order to draw attention to its low quality and short storage life. It was decided to build a new brewery capable of producing a bottom-fermented beer with a longer storage life. At the time, this was termed a Bavarian beer, since bottom-fermentation first became popular in Bavaria and spread from there. For bottom-fermentation it is necessary to keep the fermentation tanks cool between 4 and 9 degrees Celsius. The climate in Bohemia is similar to that in Bavaria making it possible to store winter ice and sustain bottom-fermentation year-round.
Bavarian beer had an excellent reputation, and Bavarian brewers were considered the masters of their trade. Thus, the citizens of Pilsen not only built a new brewery, but also hired Josef Groll, a Bavarian brewer. Josef Groll's father owned a brewery in Vilshofen in Lower Bavaria and had long experimented with new recipes for bottom-fermented beer. On 5 October 1842, Groll produced the first batch of Urquell beer, which was characterized by the use of soft Bohemian water, very pale malt, and Saaz hops. It was first served in the public houses Zum Goldenen Anker, Zur weißen Rose and Hanes on 11 November 1842, and was very well received by the populace.
Josef Groll's contract with the Bürgerliches Brauhaus (citizens' brewery) in Pilsen expired on 30 April 1845 and was not renewed. Groll returned to Vilshofen and later inherited his father's brewery. The Pilsen brewery was directed by Bavarian brewers for nearly sixty years until 1900.
Josef Groll died on 22 November 1887, aged 74, of a heart attack in the house of his daughter Kathi Hutter in Vilshofen.
The Groll brewery no longer exists. Parts of the brewery, however, were acquired by Wolferstetter, another brewery located in Vilshofen. Wolferstetter still produces a Josef Groll Pils.
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