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’.
Representatives of British distributors Trilogy Beverage Brands and Euroboozer travelled here last week on a mission that sounds like quite nice work if you can get it: to sample traditional-style Czech lagers little known abroad and pick ten to introduce in London pubs.
Martin Macourek, head of the foreign office of CzechTrade in London, says the first step in this pilot project will be to distinguish the Czech lagers from so-called ‘craft beers’ of other small breweries.
“We found out that very often when we say a ‘craft brewer’, people may think of a typical American small brewer, who would, for example, use three or four types of different hops, even exotic hops, different malts, but at the end of the day it would be a beer with a shelf life of say one or two years, even – so that’s not really ‘real beer’, as we say in the Czech Republic.”
“We didn’t have this competitive advantage – we were offering so-called ‘craft beer’ as well, but with a shelf life with a maximum of say half a year – so we were a bit disadvantaged, but we still felt our beer was much better, because it is really fresh, and natural, and traditionally made.”
“So, rather than pushing this craft movement, we thought it better to argue that it is the tradition of making the beer that really matters for us, and obviously ingredients as well – they matter. The British distributors were interested, but they were not maybe completely sure by what we really mean, so we organised this mission.”
Mission accomplished, says Mr Macourek.
The distributors picked ten initial “real Bohemian lagers”, chosen – apart from their flavour – based on four main criteria: the shelf life – which must be of two months or more; the brewery’s volume, which must be high enough to meet potential demand but low enough to qualify for certain UK tax deductions; the capacity to produce a consistent lager; and a willingness to invest in marketing.
Euroboozer is now investing in building the new ‘Bohemian Real Lager’ category, focusing in this pilot stage on the Czech breweries – including Bohemia Regent, Cvikov, Kácov, Kutná Hora, Lucky Bastard, Matuška, Moravia, Únětice brands – whose lagers will be distributed on a rotational basis in British pubs, with first orders expected in January.
“So, for example, in week one there will be a Kutná Hora 12 degree beer, in week two, a nice lager from the Moravia brewery. Then, obviously, if one is more popular than another, some could become a permanent distribution.”
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