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.
One of the Czech Republic’s best-known brewing companies, Plzeňský
Prazdroj, produced a record 11 million hectoliters of beer last year, a
spokesperson said on Wednesday. That was a volume increase of 3 percent
year on year for the brewer, which makes Pilsner Urquell. Exports grew by 8
percent in 2017.
Last year Plzeňský Prazdroj was bought by the Japanese group Asahi from SABMiller.