The Pilsner Urquell Origins Tour is one of the most important experiences for our Tapsters. This is where they learn what it takes to harvest Saaz hops. And it’s harder than you think!
It all begins when the Tapsters arrive at the Czech village of Stekník, in Žatec, where Saaz hops begin their journey from tall green bines towards a glass of Pilsner Urquell. At the harvest this year we had Tapsters from countries around the world, including Hungary, Poland, Romania, Taiwan and Japan. They worked hard but had fun doing it!
When the hops are ready, the harvesting machine runs up and down the rows, pulling the hops down into the back of the trailer. From here they go to the processing plant where the hop picker pulls off the flowers, separating them from the leaves and vines. Next these are slowly dried and packed, ready to go to the brewhouse.
Sure, we could do it all with machines, but we like to give Tapsters hands-on experience with our ingredients. They’re up for the challenge of picking all day in the summer heat, and they love seeing the hops close up and smelling the floral, citrusy aroma they recognise from Pilsner Urquell!
The weather for the harvest in Žatec this year was hot and dry, so the Tapsters were sweating as they worked, pulling the ripe hop cones from the vines. But they had a good time, and everyone was surprised at how much they learned about brewing – not to mention how aromatic fresh Saaz hops are!
The acids and oils in the hop flower are the key ingredients for our beer. That’s why we add Saaz hops three times when we brew Pilsner Urquell – first to give the beer bitterness and then to add aroma.
But you didn’t have to read all of this to learn about Saaz hops. Just ask your Tapster!