It’s been hot at Ladera Frutal, and I sure could refresh myself in the underground cellars of the original Plzen (Pilsen) brewery and with a glass of their lager fermented in these wooden barrels.
This photo is from our tour of the Pilsner Urquell brewery in the summer of 2005. I could not even begin to describe the flavor and texture of this really original pilsner, except to say that it was complex and creamy.
I am not aware of any craft brewers who condition pilsner in this way, unfortunately. And even Pilsner Urquell does not make this brew available anywhere but on the tour. At one time, this was how all lagers were brewed, but now you have to take the tour.
I am something of an aficionado of open-fermented beers. There are so few, but I have toured at least four breweries that specialize in open fermentation: Black Sheep (which still uses Yorkshire squares to open-ferment some of its products), Cantillon (a true lambic brewer that has its fermenters up in the cobwebs of its attic), 3 Fonteinen (see my previous fawning over their lambics), and Plzner Urquell’s tour samples. As a natural and local-character product as much as wine or cheese, beer was meant to be fermented in this manner, but so few carry on the rich tradition of real wild beer.
Just to get a small sample of this amazing brew is worth the price of admission to the brewery (which is interesting in its own right). Come to think of, just to taste this amazing brew is worth the price of the airfare, too.