Pilsner Urquell Celebrates Keepers of the Craft at Taste of Toronto

170 years ago a brewing revolution took place in the ancient Czech town of Pilsen, a revolution that changed the world of beer forever. A group of dedicated brewers put their skills and their ambition together to create the world’s first ever golden beer, the original Pilsner lager, a beer that still sets and defines the standard for 70% of the worlds brewing output today. 

I had the pleasure of travelling to Pilsen and Prague with Pilsner Urquell in the Fall of 2013. The trip included a private tour of the Pilsner Urquell brewery and a culinary tour of Prague, the nations jaw dropping capital. This incredible experience taught me firsthand how the world’s original pilsner is crafted and what makes this beer so special. 

This past weekend I was reunited with two other members of #TeamPilsner at Taste of Toronto. Fort York’s Garrison Common was drenched in sweet summer sunshine as Chef Grant van Gameren from Bar Isabel prepared a decadent Spanish inspired snackable spread under petite white circus tent. I’ve shared fond memories of my Czech culinary adventure with Chef Grant, writing a story on our bacchanal entitled, Beer Tour: From Pilsen to Prague. We were joined by brew enthusiast David Ort, author of the Canadian Craft Beer Cookbook and fellow Czech travel chum.

Visitors to Taste of Toronto last weekend were offered up a rare opportunity to sip and savour cold pints of unfiltered Pilsner Urquell. The beer master in Czech tapped a few kegs of the golden froth and flew them over the Atlantic so Toronto beer fans could whet their whistles. After offering up a cheers to Grant and David I dove into my glass, the sweet froth forming a milk-moustache under my nose.

Pilsner Urquell has built an international following on the traditions of quality, craftsmanship and taste. As a true Keeper of the Craft, Pilsner Urquell salutes the fundamental values it has held since 1842 and recognizes kindred spirits around the globe. At Taste of Toronto an intimate group of VIPs were invited to adventure through a Keepers of the Craft Workshop exploring Chef Grant’s love for the petite pintxo, a small snack, typically eaten in bars in northern Spain and Basque country. 

Chef began the session with a cheers to his colourful crowd which included Jordan St John Sun Media’s national beer columnist, Food and Beverage Writer Renee Suen, Diego Armand and Michelle Yee from Perfecto Magazine, Olympian Martin Reader with StriveLife pal Ryan Caicco, Hawley Dunbar and Tristan Banning from Sidewalk Hustle, fashion photographer Maxime Bocken, Sarah Parniak Drinks Writer at NOW and burly bearded Adam Martin from Harry Rosen.

Grant challenged the group to a culinary competition, fractioning us into groups where we were tasked at producing the perfect pintxo. Over the next hour my team banded together, sip and nibbling our way through a parade of plates inspired by Spain. I was famished, pitching pickled onions and flapping salty serrano jamon into my eager mouth as my teammates focussed on meticulously constructing their skewers.

Our table was teaming with savoury Spanish treats, fromage and spicy sausages warming in the al fresco summer hot-as-heat. Our building blocks for the task at hand included an unbelievable mouthwatering laundry list: almejas, mojama, barberechos, navajas, piquillo peppers, olives, manchego + mahon cheese, marinated octopus, boquerones, heirloom tomato, sardines, smoked bacalao, iberico chorizo, pickled jalapeno, quail egg escabeche, gherkins, caper berries, creamy buffalo mozzarella, marconas almonds and peppery wild arugula.

Pilsner Urquell’s Keepers of the Craft Workshop at Taste of Toronto offered a memorable summer moment. Chef Grant winked while sipping from an iced cold tall can as his eager audience enjoyed a fine feast. I closed my eyes, total bliss waving over me as a sweet tomato burst in my mouth, buffalo mozzarella cream dribbling down my chin, live folk tunes wafting through the sky. My hopes for a hoppy Pilsner Urquell homecoming materialized in a bite sized pintxo.

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