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Good Beer Hunting

Sep 19, 2020

I’m Evan Rail, and you’re listening to the Good Beer Hunting podcast.

Pilsner, as a style, is currently “having a moment,” with cult breweries everywhere from Travis County, Texas, to County Durham in northeast England producing highly sought-after versions of the beer that was first brewed in the Czech town of Pilsen in 1842—and which was once the epitome, for many craft beer lovers, of the widely derided “fizzy yellow beer.” Formerly largely ignored in favor of Ales, especially variations on India Pale Ale, by earlier generations of beer fans, Pilsner, here at the start of the 2020s, is pretty close to the hot new thing. So how did that happen? And why did that happen? And what’s Pilsner’s backstory?

Tom Acitelli is the author of a new book, “Pilsner: How the Beer of Kings Changed the World.” A longtime drinks journalist, Acitelli also wrote “The Audacity of Hops: The History of America’s Craft Beer Revolution,” as well as books on wine and whiskey. You’ve seen his byline in The Wall Street Journal,, The Washington PostAll About Beer (where he was the history columnist for several years), and most recently here at Good Beer Hunting, where his feature story, Grab and Go — How Imperialism Aided the Spread of European Beer, covered the historical connections between colonization and the appearance of European beer styles in Africa and elsewhere.

In this episode, I’m talking with Tom Acitelli about Pilsner, its backstory, the history of craft, as well as imperialism, the temperance movement, and the big picture of alcohol in America. It’s a wide-ranging conversation with one of the beer world’s best writers.

This is Tom Acitelli, author of “Pilsner: How the Beer of Kings Changed the World.” Listen in.