As with all beer types be they traditional English ales, Belgian beers or Czech pilsners, the color is determined by the malted barley and other cereals used. Once malted (the process of beginning germination to allow starch to be converted into sugars) barley is then heated in a kiln for varying amounts of time affecting colour and flavour properties. Malts roasted for longer attain a darker colour and some of the sugars are used resulting in a darker beer with caramel flavour notes. It is this roasting (or lack of) which determines the colour of the malt and the malt choice which determines the colour of the beer. Hops are added at different stages of the brewing process for bitterness, flavour and aroma.
Pilsner was invented in Bohemia, now the Czech Republic, in 1842 in the town of Pilsen. At the time, the use of pale malts and distinctive Saaz hops was entirely new. As the new style of beer grew in popularity and acclaim it became known as 'Pilsner Urquell' with “urquell” meaning original. Pilsner Urquell is still brewed to the same recipe today and is available in bottles internationally.
Another fine example of the style, though more golden in colour and with a slightly sweeter malty taste is Budweiser Budvar, another Czech pilsner. Budweiser brewery was formed in 1895 as the Czech share brewery and (unlike the inferior American beer which stole its name and uses cheap cereals such as rice which add nothing to flavour or appearance only serving to make the 'beer' cheaper to produce and therefore more profits for the brewing giant) still uses the same methods, and ingredients today from a town with a brewing tradition dating back to 1265. The only change being a bore hole for an artesian well being sunk in 1922 to maintain a water supply which had been cut off. In 2004, however. Buvar began production once again of a dark lager, returning to the traditions pre pilsner.