The first style of pour is called Na dvakrát, or ‘Crisp’. It has a traditional amount of head on top of the beer, which helps to maximise the carbonation and keep the beer refreshed over a longer period of time – making the ‘Crisp’ style the perfect choice to enjoy with a meal.
Vojtech Homolka explains: “Each style of pouring is for a different occasion. If you eat, and would like to have the beer refreshing for a long period, the ‘Crisp’ is the ideal style of pouring. On the other hand, if you are with friends in the pub and ready to drink, then it’s good to serve the second style called Hladinka or ‘Smooth’ because the carbonation is not so high. It’s ideal for drinking.”
This second, smoother pour is the most popular form enjoyed in the Czech Republic. The larger amount of head on the top of the beer helps control the level of carbon dioxide in the drink, so the resulting pint has a smoother, creamier taste and is perfect when enjoyed immediately.
The third variety – Mlíko, or ‘Milk’ – creates something of a stir when poured. This style presents as a tall glass of white froth, with very little liquid beer in the bottom of the glass. You could be forgiven for thinking ‘It’s just foam!’, but it’s not. Two‑thirds of that foam is in fact beer – and this style of pouring gives a sweeter balance with the bitterness of the hops.
Some drinkers enjoy Mlíko at the end of a meal. Vojtech says. “It's a special style of serving, just for true connoisseurs.”
So the next time you order a Pilsner Urquell, see if your bartender knows the different pours and try matching a style to your occasion – you might discover a new favourite.
The Guardian has listed Plzeň (or Pilsen) and the Pilsner Urquell brewery as one of their holiday hotspots for 2015. Read the article on the Guardian’s website, or find out more about the Pilsner Urquell brewery tours.