An Introduction To Czech Beer

Bohemia Apartments Prague brings you another info about one of the most important Czech treasures. For most visitors, the Czech Republic is famous for two things: the country’s beautiful capital city, Prague – and beer. The Czechs have the highest beer consumption in the world and are very proud of the drink some call “liquid bread”.

If you’ve tried Czech beer (pivo in Czech), you’ll understand why it’s so popular, and regarded by many as the best in the world. Brewing has a long tradition in the Czech lands, going back to the 9th century, and in the Middle Ages cities were given the right to brew beer. These included Plzeň, home to perhaps the most famous Czech beer, Plzeňský Prazdroj, and České Budějovice, from where Budvar comes from.

Pilsner Urquell

Pilsner Urquell

Both towns have given their names to the terms Pilsner and Budweiser types of beer, respectively, although the Czech original is the best. Another reason why Czech beer is so good is the ideal conditions for hops, much of which are grown around Žatec, northwest of Prague. The water used in brewing also makes Czech beer special.

In the past, every town had its own brewery, and small local brands were numerous; today a number of big breweries dominate the market. They include the two brands mentioned above (due to a dispute with Budweiser Budvar is known in some countries as Budějovický Budvar or Czechvar), Gambrinus, Krušovice, Gambrinus, Radegast, Staropramen and Velkopopovický Kozel.

Velkopopovický Kozel

Velkopopovický Kozel

Smaller brands to look out for Bernard, Platan, Svijany and Starobrno, and some local breweries still survive or are being re-opened. One example is Unětické pivo, which is brewed in the village of Unětice, a few kilometres northwest of Prague.

Czech beer is mostly of the light-coloured lager variety (svetlé pivo), but dark beer (tmavé pivo), which generally has a richer, sweeter taste, is sometimes available, and more rarely řezané pivo, a mixture of the two.

The Czech word for pub is hospoda or pivnice, although there is little difference between a cheaper restaurant (restaurace) and a pub. Wherever you enjoy a beer, you’ll find it served by the half litre (large beer or velké pivo), or you can order a small beer (malé pivo), in a 0.3 litre glass.

It’s useful to know that under the Czech beer classification system, beer is given number according to its alcoholic strength. Most commonly you’ll see 10º (known as desitka) or the slightly stronger 12º (dvanáctka). Whatever you brand you choose, and whether it’s a large or small beer, Bohemia Apartments Prague say Na zdraví!

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