Czech state-owned brewery Budějovický Budvar sold more beer in 2018 than
in its entire 123-year history, following a 7.3 percent rise in sales to
2.57 billion crowns.
Budvar, which has been in a long legal dispute with U.S. giant Anheuser-Busch over use of the “Budweiser” brand, said output rose 3.6 percent last year to 1.602 million hectoliters. The growth followed a 4-percent decline in 2017, caused by shifting production to a premium brand.
In 2019, the brewery plans to build a third bottling plant. It said its focus on premium lagers is paying off.
According to legend, Bohemian hops were so prized King Wenceslas ordered the death penalty for anyone caught exporting cuttings from which plants could be grown. But with beer consumption and pub visits down at home, big Czech brewers rely on exports to make up the difference, while trying to lure locals back with craft-style and limited-run beers.
The best known Czech beer is undoubtedly Pilsner Urquell. Budweiser (sold as Czechvar in the United States and some other countries) is probably the second most prominent. The fame of these two brands outshines many other lagers and other types of beer brewed all over Czechia. And that is a shame, as there is so much more to discover for any beer-loving visitor to this country.
In a bid to help smaller Czech brewers of traditional-style lagers gain a foothold in the United Kingdom – a discerning beer-loving nation if there ever was one – state agency CzechTrade has teamed up with major British distributors on a pilot project introducing a new category: ‘Bohemian Real Lager’.
There is only one place in the entire world where you can drink Pilsner Urquell – the very first pale lager known to man, invented in a happy accident 176 years ago – unpasteurised, unfiltered, and straight from an oak wooden barrel. At the source. I went on a guided tour with Tourism and Heritage Manager Rudolf Šlehofer to learn the history behind the famous Czech beer, and its traditional brewing methods of triple decoction and parallel brewing in oak lagering barrels.
Czech farmers are predicting a significant slump in the hop harvest this year, caused by the unusually hot weather and lack of rain. Hop production is expected to drop despite the fact that the overall area of hop fields expanded by 81 hectares in 2018. Last year, farmers harvested over 6,700 tonnes of hops, which was slightly above the average.