Czech Beer and Brewing

Written by Anna Pelouchova and Jitka Moutvickova

Category: Tradition

Learn more about Czech Beer and Brewing

The Czech Republic has the highest beer consumption per capita in the world. One might think it is Germany with the annual Oktoberfest but no, The Czechs are in first place.

Beer brewing has a long important tradition, even in the era of the Celts they made something that could be called beer (it was made without hops) was brewed on Czech lands. The first written proof about brewing is from 993 A. D. in the Brevnov monastery brewery located in Prague. It is believed that many other monasteries were brewing beer but unfortunately no written records survive. Brewing was not a privilege only of the monasteries but of many cities as well. Brno, Pilsen and Budweis (Ceske Budejovice) had this right since the 12th and 13th centuries. This privilege was granted by the king or nobility and every burgher had the right to brew beer. At first, everyone made beer when the production was concentrated the first city breweries were established.

I 1842 the Citizen’s Pilsen Brewery opened. Josef Groll a Bavarian brewer used a new technique and made his first batch of paler malt pilsner. This blond lager became the inspiration for more than 2/3 of beer produced worldwide today. The Pilsner Urquell brewery in Pilsen is the largest producer of beer in the Czech Republic.

The rapid development that the brewing tradition was going through was stopped during the two world wars and the planned economy that followed didn’t help as well. Without any investments to modernize the Czech breweries they lagged behind others in the world. This was a plus as the Czech beers maintained their different taste, fragrance, and the darker color in comparison to others. The historical tradition of the expertise, hard work, and the quality raw materials and hard work has kept Czech beers unchanged in its taste and quality. Today, almost all beer brewed in the Czech Republic is pilsner style lager. Czech beers differ in color from black (Cerne) and dark (Tmave), through amber (Polotmave) to pale (Svetle). And also vary in strength as well going from 3-9 % ABV. According to the Balling scale, based on calculating the alcohol and the two types of sugar, fermentable and un-fermentable. This gives 8° beer has 8 % of the fermented sugar. The larger the higher amount of alcohol. The four types are: Light beer – brewed below 8° Balling Tap beer – brewed between 8° and 10°, it can be bottled Lager beer – brewed between 11° and 12,99°Special beer – brewed above 13°. One could say that beer is a part of Czechs’ everyday life. Often said, “jdu na jedno” in English means “I am going out for one (beer)” but it is just a saying. In the end they end up with more than just one beer. Conversation is much better with a big glass of cold beer on the table.

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