Microbreweries are among the businesses hardest hit by the coronavirus lockdown in the Czech Republic. Due to the closure of restaurants, demand for their beer dropped significantly from one day to the next. To save hectolitres of craft beer from destruction, the owner of the Kytín brewery in Central Bohemia launched an initiative called Zachraň pivo or Save the Beer. It was promptly joined by over 300 microbreweries from the Czech Republic and Slovakia.
Michal Pomahač is the owner of the family-run Kytín brewery near Prague and one of the co-founders of the initiative called Zachraň Pivo. He got the idea soon after a state of emergency was declared in the Czech Republic, when he realised just how serious the situation was for his microbrewery, which was suddenly left with 14,000 litres of beer for which he had no outlet.
The initiative was launched on March 25, with a public appeal published on its Facebook page:
“Thousands of beers are waiting to be rescued. Brewed, fresh, unpasteurized beer is perishable. Pouring thousands of litres down the drain will ruin some of us. Do you want to help Czech microbreweries?”
The response of the public was overwhelming. Within just a few weeks, the Kytín brewery had no more beer to sell.
“We succeeded in selling out all of our beer reserves and we managed to do it real fast. We didn’t brew any beer for about two weeks following the announcement of the state of emergency, so for a while we actually had nothing to offer to our customers. So instead, we decided to help out other microbreweries, which had bigger stocks and for a few weeks we have only been selling other people’s beer.”
The Save the Beer initiative currently offers craft beer from 328 breweries, from all around the Czech Republic and also from Slovakia.
“All you need to do is visit our website zachranpivo.cz and look for craft beer in your vicinity. You can also search the over 300 breweries, choose a beer you like and then come and pick it up on your own. Some breweries have their own e-shops or they run their own delivery service.”
Despite the initial success, Michal Pomahač says Czech microbreweries are facing a bleak future. According to the estimates of the Czech-Moravian Brewers’ Association, beer production in the country’s 500 microbreweries has fallen by an average of 80 to 85 percent and a quarter of them are unlikely to survive the crisis.
“Although our initiative has helped to save lots of beer, and many breweries have temporarily survived, my guess it that the real struggle will only come after the easing of restrictions, when the topic of saving microbreweries will have lost its appeal.
“I hope our initiative will continue to help microbreweries also during the crisis, which I think is inevitable, and which will also be fuelled by people’s fear to assemble.”
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