With my newfound love of beer, I love to learn about how beer is made, which means touring lots of beer factories! And by that, I mean, the Guinness Storehouse, The Jameson Whiskey Factory (ok, not beer, but it still has alcohol!), and now the Pilsner Urquell Factory.
My class this afternoon got cancelled and so 3 friends and I decided to take advantage of the empty afternoon and ventured off in search of beer. Pilsner Urqell is a pilsner beer (as opposed to a stout or a lager) and is created in the town of Plzen, which is about 1 hour to the west of Prague. Pilsner Urqell came into being in the 1800s – at one point, Plzen had 289 licensed beer-brewers! And none of them were making very good beer, so 260 of them banded together and decided to brew their beer together to help save the reputation of Plzen. And tadah! We now have a great beer! The tour was really interesting. Whereas Guinness sent you through on your own to look at cool videos, our guide in Plzen actually brought us inside of the factory. We also got to try malt, barley, and hops (if anyone offers you hops, trust me, pass on them. Super bitter and honestly pretty gross. But they make beer taste good!) which I thought added a nice dimension to the tour.
The factory is able to make 2,000 bottles of beer in one minute. Crazy, right?!
We had no set bus tickets to come home, nor did we have any real homework to rush back to, so we decided to walk around the town and spend the afternoon in Plzen. We managed to find the town square, which was adorable, and it was having an open-air market! The smells were incredible: hot honey wine, tradelnik, sausages, and other baked goods, there were candles, candy, ceramics, and sheep’s skin items. Eventually we ended up back here for dinner!
After moseying around the market, we moved on in search of the Great Synagogue of Plzen. The synagogue is beautiful here. Unfortunately, the front is under reconstruction, but I led us on a stealth mission around the back, in search of at least one interesting picture! I would call this one a success. Inside of the synagogue, they have a large photography exhibition mounted, which I felt has brought my experiences in Prague full-circle. There were images of the photographer’s kids at Petřín Hill, where I was this morning, as well as in Wenceslas Square and on Narodni Trida, which are areas that I am in at least once a day. Additionally, all of the Jews in Plzen were sent to Terezin, where I was a few weeks ago. And so, with a few dozen breathtaking black and white photographs, my experiences here were beautifully mirrored and elaborated upon.