Beers from Home- The Czech Republic
Whenever anyone finds out that I’m a native/citizen of the Czech Republic the
topic the topic inevitably turns to beer. And why not, since we drink the most
beer of any nation in the world. In a nation of just over 10 million people we
drink about 163 liters of beer per person each year. We are proud of that
statistic and believe that the Czech Republic is the center of the beer world.
One of the first questions I’m usually asked is if our famous Pilsner Urquell,
tastes the same when it is exported as it does in the heart of Prague. The
answer is, for the most part, it does. This brew is truly our ambassador to the
world despite the fact that I am convinced that when they changed from
wooden fermenting and lagering vessels to stainless steel a few years ago
they changed the flavor I knew as a lad.
Overall these are great days for Czech brews. During the Communist days
only beer from local breweries was available to the populace and much of this
was not of the best quality. Most bottled beer didn’t even have labels on them,
with the exception of Pilsner Urquell and Budvar Budweiser, which were
important exports for our economy.
Today, Czech beer is uniformly good thanks to the privatization of the free
market and to the international brewing giants that now dominate beer
production. Currently there are 53 breweries in the Czech Republic, with the
largest owned by InBev, SABMiller, and Heineken.
Beer in the Czech Republic has a long history. The first records of brewing
there date back as early as the 800s. Our two most important brewing
centers, Plzen (Pilsen) and Ceske Budejovice (Budweis) are known around
the world. Go to you local store in most cities on the East Coast of the US and
you will see some part of the history of Czech brewing on almost every brand’s
The alcohol content of Czech beers is required by law to be printed on both
tap handles for draft and labels for bottles. The majority of our beers
consumed domestically are about 4% while the exported ones are about 5%.
Golden pilsners and dark lagers are brewed in these two strengths while even
stronger lagers, blonde bocks and blonde double bocks are becoming more
Unlike the ubiquitous shaker pint glasses that beer is dispensed in the US,
most beer in the Czech Republic is sold in one-half liter bottles and sold in the
same size when poured form the tap. Prices are fairly low since the tax bite is
small. Czech beer is a bargain. Think Happy Hour prices all day and night
As I have found in my travels to many countries it’s easy to make friends over
a beer. If that beer is a Czech one, I recommend, of course, Czechvar and
Pilsner Urquell. If you want to try something you might not have heard of go
with Primator Blonde Bock – a big malt sweetness balanced by hops; Herold
Bohemian Black Lager – molasses and chocolate notes; roasty sweetness;
BrauCzech Lager – malty sweetness with a dry finish; Staropramen- dry finish
with sweet malt throughout.
Let me leave you with an old Czech saying, “Kde se prvo vari, tam se dobre
dari” which means “where beer is brewed, they have it good”.
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