New Pilsner Urquell guidebook ranks top establishments

It’s something of a Czech tradition: fans of Czech beer Plzeňský Prazdroj (Pilsner Urquell) debating which pubs have the best Pilsner on tap. Now the debate may see a little “closure”. On Monday the famous brewer launched a flashy new guidebook ranking the best Pilsner-serving establishments. Interestingly, the book is based on rankings not by professional critics but by regular pub-goers.

Pilsner Urquell is a beer that has long enjoyed a strong reputation and needs little introduction; but ask a group of fans which pub offers the best “Plzeň” on tap, get ready for a debate. No longer: the answers are now “official”. On Monday, Pilsner Urquell launched a brand new pub guide, rating the top Pilsner-serving pubs in the country for 2008. The guide is based on an amazing 77,000 entries from pub-goers who know their establishments through and through. The glossy publication, featuring colour photos an easy-to-skim index, and additional bonuses, was boiled down from around 1,000 establishments, to the crème de la crème: the Top 100. At this week’s launch I spoke to the senior trade brewer at Pilsner Urquell, Václav Berka:

“This a great day for us because we are celebrating the first edition of our new pub guide. The guide can be seen as support for our customers, ranking the best pubs serving our beer.”

The high-profile launch this week took place at Prague’s 18th century Písecká brána (Pisek Gate), and invited guests included VIPs from the gastronomy and service industries. Celebrities from the world of sports and entertainment were also invited, including well-known guitarist Ladislav Brabec – a man known to go a long way to get a decent pint.

“I was in Antarctica three times and on my third journey I was on my small yacht, a fifteen-metre yacht, and I stopped at the southern-most city of Chile – and the world – called Port Williams. You can’t go there by car, you can go by plane, but the usual way is by boat. There was an amazing pub I found there, which for me was the best. And, I was very surprised to find that they had Pilsner Urquell! It was perfect!”

Also christening the pub guide was another aficionado, Olympic gold medallist in cross country-skiing Kateřina Neumannová:

“I think that beer is also a favourite among top athletes: of course it is important not to drink too much! I love beer and I am very proud that Czech beer ranks among the favourites.”

U Zlatého tygra, photo: CzechTourism
By now you must be wondering which pubs ranked highest in Pilsner Urquell’s guidebook: included in the Top 10 were a number of long-time favourites, including U Rudofina or U Zlatého Tygra in the Czech capital; the latter was a regular hang-out spot for the late great Czech writer Bohumil Hrabal. The best tasting Pilsner overall went to Jelínkova plzeňská hospoda, a tiny, bare-bones, hole-in-the-wall pub in the Czech capital, famous for the quality of its pipes for years. But the overall No. 1 ranking for overall quality, including beer, food, and customer services, went to Hostinec u Bláhovky, a pub not in Prague but in the country’s second largest city, Brno. Pilsner Urquell’s pub guide, in Czech, will be available for free at the 100 establishments listed in the book; it will also be included as a free gift with some Pilsner Urquell purchases.