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We’ve always been committed to brewing the best beer we can, and then delivering it to our customers as quickly and efficiently as possible. That’s been one of our primary focuses since 1842, and it has led to some interesting innovations in terms of delivery.
The earliest batches of Pilsner Urquell were intended only for the people of Pilsen. Delivery back then was pretty simple: the barrels could be carried by horse-drawn carriage from the brewery to pubs in the city in just a few minutes. But soon the demand for Pilsner’s unique taste spread further, thanks in part to some of our early deliveries.
In the mid-19th century the brewery worked with salesmen who delivered all sorts of goods, riding from city to city to peddle their wares. In April 1843, a salesman named Martin Salzmann brought a batch of Pilsner Urquell to his friend Jakub Pinkas, a tailor in Prague. Pinkas was so enthusiastic about the beer that he immediately closed his tailor shop and opened the first Prague pub to serve Pilsner. U Pinkasů is still in business today, though now the beer is delivered by truck.
By 1856 Pilsner had made it to Vienna on the back of a carriage. Luckily, the beer could endure long transportation. In 1862 a railway station opened in Pilsen, allowing for faster and larger shipments of Pilsner Urquell to Prague and other cities in the area. At this time the brewery used five pairs of horses to bring the barrels to the train station.
Things have changed a lot since then, but they changed slowly. As distribution expanded, the brewery always took advantage of the latest transportation technologies, purchasing special railway cars for deliveries as soon as railroads began to link cities throughout Europe. Soon the brewery built its own rail yard so barrels of beer could be loaded directly onto trains from the brewery cellars. The insides of these railcars were insulated with cork, keeping the beer cool so it could be transported year round.
In 1873 Pilsner Urquell was first exported to America on ships. By 1891, Pilsner Urquell comprised 1/6 of the entire volume of European beer exported overseas. Not bad!
In the late 1920s, the brewery started investing in state-of-the-art electric vehicles for local beer deliveries, which drastically cut costs during a petrol shortage. Since then, Pilsner Urquell has pioneered shipping unpasteurised lager in special tank trucks that pipe the beer directly into tanks at pubs, so the liquid is never exposed to air, keeping it fresh as can be. More recently, the brewery has innovated with the cold shipping of beer to the United States, another effort to bring the best quality, freshest beer possible to the rest of the world.
Who knows what’s next for Pilsner deliveries? One thing’s for sure: we’ll always go out of our way to bring beer lovers everywhere the best-tasting golden lager possible.
1843: First Pilsner delivery to Prague, on horseback
1856: First Pilsner delivery to Vienna
1862: A railway station opens in Pilsen
1873: Pilsner lager is exported to America
1879: The Pilsen – Vienna railway line is established
1892: The brewery ships its beer in 175,000 transport barrels and 80 railroad freight cars
1900: A regular daily beer train from Prague to Vienna begins
1902: The brewery railroad fleet expands by 20 cars
1913: 24 railroad cars are purchased for deliveries
1922: The first shipment by lorry to Prague. Due to heavy snow, the trip takes 16 hours
1930s: The brewery purchases electric vehicles for delivery
1960: Pilsner Urquell reaches Antartica, carried on a Soviet polar expedition with Czech explorers
1964: The first long-distance tank trucks are purchased
1988: The first canned Pilsner Urquell is shipped to England
1990: Horse-drawn wagons are used for the first time since 1957. They can hold 30 kegs each
2005: The annual lorry fleet fluctuates between 300 and 550 lorries, serving 30,000 customers with some 6,000 orders per day
2008: The first train sets out carrying Pilsner to Sweden. Railroad transport takes the place of 200 lorries annually
2012: The fleet expands with 35 new lorries designed for carrying beer
2012: The first cold shipping of Pilsner to the US
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