It started off four years ago as the Day of Czech Beer – but for the second time now this celebration of beer and pub culture has been expanded into a week-long festival. It runs from September 23 until October 1, with over 6,000 pubs, restaurants and breweries around the country taking part.
Days of Czech Beer is organized by the Czech Association of Brewers and Malt-Houses, an industry group working to advance the interests of Czech beer both at home and abroad. The event celebrates not only beer, but pub culture as a whole. And so participating pubs around the country are offering up not only special beers but also unique menus featuring dishes such as roast boar served with a rosehip sauce. Meanwhile, breweries are opening up their doors to visitors who will be able to see just how the beloved amber drink is made, including some, like the Velkopopovický pivovar just west of Prague, offering after-dark tours.
Martina Ferencová is the executive director of the Czech Association of Brewers and Malt-houses:
“This year, dozens of breweries and micro-breweries are taking part alongside around 6,000 pubs and restaurants. We christened the festival on September 20th with a gala event at Prague’s National House in Vinohrady. Visitors to pubs will be able to sample rare and special beers; visitors will also be able to meet with brewers and tour breweries, so we believe we have a very rich programme for this year.”
One of the key reasons for the event is to try to reverse a long-term decline in visitor numbers to Czech pubs and restaurants. Increasingly, Czechs are preferring to drink bottled beer at home rather than visiting a pub. And overall Czech per capita consumption has also dropped by one litre, down to 143 litres – although that is still the highest in the world.
As part of Days of Czech Beer, brewer Gambrinus is offering up a rare once-a-year beer made from its first hop harvest. While Staropramen is offering up a special non-pasteurised “Extra hop” 12 degree strength beer. Numerous micro-breweries are also utilising this special opportunity to have customers sample their product. Martina Ferencová explained the wider work undertaken by her association, whose history harks back to the 19th century, and was revived in its current form in 1991:
“Český svaz pivovarů a sladoven is an association of breweries and malt-houses and associated organisations (such as beer glass makers). We have 50 members and our role is to defend their interests. Which is why we organise these kinds of events designed to help support the image of Czech beer. We also organise projects to support responsible drinking and so on.”
Last year, Czech breweries made 20.1 million hectolitres of beer, a figure 2.2 percent higher than in 2014. A small decline in Czech beer consumption has been more than offset by increased exports. For more information on the festival, go to their website at www.dnyceskehopiva.cz
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