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Pilsner Urquell Earns Highest Taste Rating of Top Selling Imports


CHICAGO - A professional panel of sensory experts at the prestigious Beverage Testing Institute has given Pilsner Urquell a score of 93 points, the highest rating ever given to a pilsner style lager. This rating places Pilsner Urquell at the “exceptional” level, atop some of the most well known import lager brands.

The name Pilsner Urquell literally translates into “pilsner from the original source” and was created in 1842 in Plzen, a town 50 miles outside of Prague.

“Under our well-established and industry-respected testing system, Pilsner Urquell was found to be the best tasting beer among the 10 sampled by our testing group,” said Jerald O’Kennard, director of the Beverage Testing Institute’s tasting programs and World Beer Championships. O’Kennard moderated the professional tasting panel. “Pilsner Urquell is a classic representation of the pilsner lager style. From a flavor standpoint, Pilsner Urquell displayed richness and complexity in both flavor and body that the other lagers, appealing as some were, could not compete with.”

The panel consisted of senior beer tasting panelists of the Beverage Testing Institute, all of who have had a minimum of five years experience as BTI panelists.

The BTI reviewed Pilsner Urquell and nine other lagers, and each was submitted to three different qualitative evaluations. To ensure consistency, each brand was purchased at a Chicago retail outlet, chilled at an optimal temperature of 50º F, served in Riedel stemware and tasted and evaluated blind. In all three assessments Pilsner Urquell was the leading beer. Competitive brands included Stella Artois (90), Grolsch (88), Beck’s (87) and Heineken (86).

This score of 93 for Pilsner Urquell mirrors the rating that the brand has earned from the BTI in past years’ taste tests. “Ninety-three points remains the highest score given to a pilsner. These results demonstrate and confirm that Pilsner Urquell is a taste and quality benchmark for the imported lager category,” explained O’Kennard.

“The BTI panel reaffirmed what Pilsner Urquell drinkers throughout the world have known for more than 150 years,” said Evan Cohen, U.S. brand manager for Pilsner Urquell. “There is not a finer tasting imported lager available. Through outstanding craftsmanship, Pilsner Urquell tastes superb alone or accompanying a fine meal.”

The Beverage Testing Institute was an early pioneer in US wine review and in 1994 was the first review organization to apply their rigorous and widely respected tasting methodology to beer. This resulted in ground breaking beer reviews with numeric ratings, which had been widely embraced by consumers, and consumer-oriented sensory descriptions that mirror wine tasting notes. Among the BTI tasting notes for Pilsner Urquell:

A rich golden amber color;
Rich aromas of fresh baguette, caramelized nuts, citrus marmalade and earthy hops;
A full body of honeyed nut toast and tart citrus flavors;
Remarkably rich in flavor and body and thoroughly refreshing.
“When consumers are in the store looking to make a purchase, the number of choices can appear overwhelming, but the expert ratings can help simplify that choice,” Cohen said. “While the concept of using an independent body of experts to rate brands is not new to the alcoholic beverage category, the approach is most closely associated with wine and has historically been underutilized for beer.”

Bridging from a rating system for wine to a rating system for beer should be natural for today’s discerning shopper, Cohen said, since, according to Research International, the majority of people who are buying imported beer are also buying wine. As the import beer category continues to grow, this increases the choices available to consumers. “Consumers want to know that the beer they are purchasing is a quality product,” explained Cohen. “A trusted rating shows beer buyers that there are independent expert evaluators who, as in wine category, can help them identify the best in class.”

Pilsner Urquell plans to take a page from wine marketers’ playbook, using the BTI rating to build brand growth. “Wine marketers have historically used authoritative and independent scores to build brand growth. Likewise, the Pilsner Urquell brand team is developing a marketing campaign focused on communicating this superior rating in a similar fashion,” noted Cohen.


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