Czech Beers: Mastery of The Brewer's Art
In 1913 it was made public by a Czech archaeologist that the ancient Mesopotamians made more than 19 different types of beer 5000+ years ago.Â Beer was also brewed in the earliest Czech civilizations.Â There is evidence that hops were being cultivated here in 859 AD as well as being exported in 903 AD. In the 1st. written documentation about brewing that dates from 1088 all go to prove that the Czechs are the #1 beer-brewing nation in the world today. Beer is considered a part of the national heritage of the Czech Republic.
Czech Beer History
The history of beer in the Czech Lands stretches back a thousand years, mirroring the ups and downs of Czech history through the ages. Czechs have been drinking beer since the darkest reaches of history. The secret of Czech beer is that Czech agricultural conditions are perfect for growing hops. Chronicles show that their cultivation in Bohemia was early as 859 A.D.Â Hops were so prized that Good King Wenceslas, of song & history, ordered the death penalty for anyone caught exporting hops cuttings, from which new plants may be grown. The first mention of brewing in the Czech territories appears in the foundation charter for the Vysehrad church that dates from 1088. This document, set forth by the 1st. Czech king, Vratislav II, decreed that his estates should pay tithe to the church in hops.
It was the 1st. Czech brewery that built at Cerhenice in 1118. Historically & legally in those days, only citizens of the Czech lands had the legal right to brew beer. Some of these citizens banded together to form a co-operative for the express purpose of brewing & thus elleing beer.Â In the 13th century, King Wenceslas convinced the Pope to revoke an order banning the brewing of beer, which may explain why he's called "Good King Wenceslas."
VelkÃ© Popovice, a Czech town located close to Prague, has been noted since the 1300's as a beer producing center. The 1st. official report circa 16th century, lists the Popovice Brewery as a property of the Hysrl Family. It was during the Thirty Year War that the ownership of Popovice Brewery passed from a secular to a clerical administration. Popovice belonged to the Strahov Monastery. Since the 17th. century the manor has been owned by the Benedictine Monastery of St. Nicholas in Prague's Old Town.
After the Monastery was abolished in 1785 by King Josef II, the manor was auctioned off. After several other owners, the Popovice manor was bought 1870 by Frantisek Ringhoffer, Mayor of Smichov as well as being the founder of the famous Ringhoffer Works. Ringhoffer built a new brewery on this location & it was here that he installed modern technology there.
In 1874, the first beer brew was made.Â This is the foundation date of the modern history of the Velkopopovicky Kozel, created an emblem by a French painter as an expression of thanks & appreciation for the superb hospitality he received in Popovice when he stayed longer than he originally expected.
The rapid development of the Popovice Brewery halted by World War I. The Kozel, a short time gained its high position along with its reputation as its popularity grew exponentially. This development was interrupted by the occupation of the Sudetenland. At this time the Kozel brewery lost the ability to obtain the raw material base it needed along with the Ringhoffer Works lost several important connections.
Bohemian beers have been a cash producer for centuries, but it is only recently that Czech beer s have become popular in America. The most favored is Pilsner Urquell. This lager is brewed by Plzensky Prazdroj in Pilsen, the West Bohemian city that gave the world its first pilsner.
Czechvar is now the fastest growing, but smaller, Czech entrant in the American market place. Czechvar is produced in the city of Ceske Budejovice, that is also know in German as Budweiss. This then is the original Budweisser beer! It is sold in Europe as Budweisser Budvar. In the settlement a decades-old trademark lawsuit with Anheuser-Busch the winner forced Czechvar's brewer, Budejovicky Budvar, to delete its old-world trademark to obtain a new name for their brewed products. It looks like Budvar chose well.
Favorite Czech Beers
There are a number of Czech beers that have become noted favorites. These are:
VelkopopovickÃ½ Kozel Premium
The reason these beers are so good is the following formula for the natural spring waters there:
Pilzen Natural Soft Water Formulation
Calcium(Ca): 7.0 ppm
Magnesium(Mg): 2.0 ppm
Sodium(Na): 2.0 ppm
Sulfate(SO4): 5.0 ppm
Bicarbonate(HCO3): 15.0 ppm
PH: 8.0 PH
This exceptionally soft water aids in the making of the pale color & clean bitterness of Pilsner style.
Czech Beer Culture & Society
Beer goes well with Czech cuisine. For Czechs, it is unheard of for the Czech national meal consisting of delicious roasted pork, cabbage & the famous Czech dumplings to be served or accompanied by any other beverage than good Czech beer.
Czechs prefer to do their drinking of their beer in pubs rather than at home. Drinking beer is an opportunity to meet with friends, ogle ladies, share some good talk & have fun after work. The atmosphere in Czech pubs & country inns is always gregarious. Draught beer is normally served in half-liter glass mugs. There is light-colored beer, which comes in 10-degree & 12-degree varieties & has a more bitter flavor. There is an excellent 10-degree dark beer called "tmave", or a black "cerne" beer, which is somewhat a sweeter & more mellow brew. Lighter beers are more popular but the dark beer is gaining ground rapidly.
Czech Beer Firsts
1st. in per capita beer consumption
1st.Â Beer Museum in the world
1st.Â beer brewing textbook
1st.Â Pilsener, named for the town, Pilsen.
1st.Â president to have written an play based on his experiences working in a Czech beer brewery in AD 1974
Copyright Â© 2006-2009 Donald R Houston, PhD. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without the author's consent.