Pivovar Samson - Praga Premium Pils
- ABV: 4.7%
- Bottle Size: 500-ml
- Serving Temperature: 42-47° F
- Suggested Glassware: Pilsner Glass, Flute
- Hops: Saaz
We’re always excited when we receive a pilsner to sample from the style’s ancestral home; the Czechs just seem to nail these brews more often than not. Praga is no exception, and has hardware to back it up including a Gold Medal from the World Beer Championships. Presenting a deep golden color with crystal clarity and an eager, billowy cap of foam, this pils makes a good first impression. On the nose, look for bold, classic Czech Saaz noble hop notes to deliver their spicy, floral, and grassy character in a big way. Beneath, a touch of caramel and lightly toasted biscuit notes underpin the aroma with a bit more richness than is typical for most of the German iterations of the style. Luckily those Saaz hops carry all their aroma character into the flavor as well, while the malts offer a pleasant lightly bready center. We found the mild residual sweetness easily countered by the moderate hop bitterness which keeps the beer dry and lingers in the finish. Most spicy foods will do well as a pairing, along with foods with a bit of fat, like pizza, which are easily cut through by this pilsner’s prominent hops and crispness. Na zdraví!
České Budějovice, the largest city in South Bohemia, is among the historical epicenters of Czech brewing tradition. Known as Budweis in German, the city can date its brewing history as far back as the rule of the Czech “Iron and Golden King” Přemysl Otakar II in 1265. Various disputes, alliances, and political struggles among competing brewing interests occurred over the next few hundred years until, in 1795, the Administration Budweiser Bürgerbräu was formed to control the city’s main brewing enterprises. This was the dawn of the brewery we know today as Samson. The organization ultimately became a private brewing company in 1871, and it was during that decade that the brewery became the official supplier to the court of the German Württemberg kings under Wilhelm II.
It was around this time, as well, that pilsner beer (named after the Bohemian city of Plzeň) began sweeping the world. Anheuser-Busch introduced their take on pilsner beer in America under the name Budweiser as a nod to the Czech origins of the style. Unsurprisingly, Budweiser Bürgerbräu would also sell beer known as Budweiser, as would another Budweis brewery named Budvar. At the time it didn’t matter; the American and Central European markets were thousands of miles away. But in the 20th century, conflict over the brand names would ultimately force agreements among the breweries regarding where they could market their respective beers under the Budweiser name.
In 1945, during World War II, Budweiser Bürgerbräu (then under the occupying Germans' control) was damaged by Allied bombings. Following the war, the brewery was repaired but, like other breweries throughout Czechoslovakia, fell into restrictive communist state-run control. Luckily, the fall of the communist government led to the privatization of the brewery once more, and a decade of modernization and expansion was launched in the early 1990s. Now operating under the name Pivovar Samson, which it adopted in 1960, the brewery offers an array of authentic lager beers throughout the Czech Republic. We’re excited to bring you one of these excellent brews this month.
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