Pilsner Urquell was the first pale lager, and the name “pilsner” is often used by its copies. It is characterised by its golden colour and clarity, and was immensely successful: nine out of ten beers produced and consumed in the world are pale lagers based on Pilsner Urquell. The German name, which can be roughly translated into English as “the original source”, was adopted as a trademark in 1898.
By 1839 most beer in Bohemia was dark and top fermented. However bottom-fermented lagers were gaining popularity. The people of Plzeň preferred imported cheaper bottom-fermented beers to local top fermented ales. The burghers of Plzeň invested in a new, state-of-the art brewery, the Měšťanský pivovar (Burghers’ Brewery), and hired Josef Groll, a Bavarian brewer, to brew a bottom-fermented beer. On 5 October 1842, Groll had a new mash ready and on 11 November 1842, the new beer was first served at the feast of St. Martin markets.
The brewery registered Pilsner Bier B. B. name in 1859. In 1898, they also registered names Original Pilsner Bier 1842, Plzeňský pramen, Prapramen, Měšťanské Plzeňské, Plzeňský pravý zdroj and finally Pilsner Urquell and Plzeňský Prazdroj which are in use today.