Pilsner Urquell: The Original Beer Experience is opening April 22 weekend at the bottom of Wenceslas Square. It’s the culmination of two years of work and a €20 million investment by the project’s partners, who include Robert Neale and Nick Penny. Eventually, they project that the Pilsner experience could attract between 400,000 and 500,000 visitors annually. Nick Penny explained that they’d engaged the California-based company BRC Entertainment Imagination Arts to design the attraction. The goal, he said, is to tell the origin story of Pilsner Urquell in a unique way using modern technology to create an immersive experience. It’s not a museum, but it’s also not a mini-amusement park, he says. “It’s a show.”
For CZK 490, visitors will be able to taste beer, learn its history, how to pour it, even smell the hops and barley it’s made from. For an extra charge, visitors can attend “Tapster Academy” in order to learn and practice the proper way to pour (hint: leave three fingers of foam). A room with large screens offers games should serve to placate children who accompany their parents on the visit. The business is based on a license agreement with Pilsner Urquell, which was looking for a way to expand on its brewery tours in Plzeň. Rudolf Šlehofer of Plzeňsky Prazdroj said that following the pandemic, tourists are taking shorter trips to Prague. This reduces the chance they’ll take day trips outside Prague. “If we want to tell our story to as many people as possible, we have to come to them,” says the brewery’s Craft & Heritage Director.
The idea was born during the pandemic in 2020/2021, when Prague was eerily tourist-free. “We asked ourselves what the changes would be when we all returned to travel,” said Penny. “Our answer was that the world will ask for better destinations and more complete travel experiences. It’s designed to entertain, to stimulate the senses and to engage the emotions.” He said the Guinness Storehouse in Dublin along with Heineken Experience in Amsterdam served as inspiration.
The historic building it sits in the Prague Credit Bank, which Redevco bought in 2017 for more than €40 million. It will shut its doors to tourists by 7pm, but will then make itself available for after-hours events. The kitchen that will make such uses possible isn’t expected to open until roughly September. By way of example, Penny (a Leeds fan) said he could imagine companies renting out the space to enjoy Champions League evenings with their own staff and business partners. Ondřej Veselý is Head of Sales and Marketing for The Original Experience Company, which carried out the investment and will operate the attraction. The project’s architecture was entrusted to ECI Architecture, while SIS Systemy was the general contractor.
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