Considered as the national drink, beer is a true symbol of Czech culture and its authentic Eastern art of living. For instance, the history of brewing in Bohemia dates back from the 9th century, where this beverage was originally mainly linked to monasteries and castles (like this neogothic Hluboka castle, pictured here).
Although, the first non-Trappist brewery was founded in 1118 and logically in 2008, the Czech beer obtained the European IGP label (Protected Geographical Indication), for a better protection of this ancestral know-how. Indeed, this long-winded industry mostly relies on an abundant production of high quality hops and malt, and now operate about fifty breweries and more than 270 micro breweries. Many of these structures are now distributed in France by the Bières Tchèques, and we’re glad to introduce these jewels from the East. By Alex Plato
First of all, we thank this collective of breweries represented by Les Bières Tchèques, the principal French importer of Czech beers, to have presented us their various prestigious or wannabe breweries. This company, located in Vendée, also imports the local beer dispensers, conceived by Lindr. For your information, Les Bières Tchèques is able to give to drink to everybody with its 25,000 HL of beers displayed per year, mostly distributed throughout France and through its different distribution networks. Now, let’s have a look among the choice offered of the different houses, all dedicated to pursue a real tradition!
For your information, the majority of these Czech beers are famous for the quality and diversity of their three basic raw ingredients for beer production. Among them, you could count on various hops, fulfilled by multiple hop heads from female European hop plants. This category offers to these beers a typical bitter taste, which naturally contribute to the formation of a characteristic aroma (photo credits: Budweiser Budvar).
As complement, the choice of Barley is also important, before being transformed into Malt, since it requires some skills by a maltster and turning from green gold to liquid gold. Just after harvest, the barley is soaked (to encourage it to germinate) and then quickly heated with some warm air in a kiln, in order to pause the germination, before reaching the brewery. Especially cultivated in some specific houses, malt takes part as a fundamental part in the resulting taste, colour and the aroma of beers. For instance, some following malts and cereals are used for brewing, such as the Pilsen light malt, as the basis of the Czech beer, the Bavarian (originally from Munich) is commonly used for providing the bread taste of beer, the Caramel Malt adds a caramel flavor and aroma to beer, a Colored Malt fills the typical dark color into beer, some Wheat Malt is a basic flavor and raw ingredient of the Weizenbier beer, Smoked Malt fulfills a fine smoky taste, Roasted Barley adds bitter coffee taste and Non-Malt Barley generally contributes smoothness to beers.
More information on the official website.
Not to be mistaken with its American homonym, the Budweiser Budvar (also called Beer of the Kings) is still the official national Brewery of the Czech Republic, but needs to be called Czechvar, in the USA. Although the American version Budweiser has to be labelled as Bud in the main European part. Founded in 1895, its know-how has been pursuing through generations, for 125 years and thus, this brewery is nowadays the leading exporter of beers, and a major cultural ambassador from the country.
Furthermore, the Budweiser Budvar is an authentic brewery, able to produce premium beers, featuring some of the best existing ingredients, while using a modern technology but maintaining its traditional trademark, in the same time.
In this South Bohemia region, have a stop to notably admire the Baroque beauty of the medieval village Cesky Krumlov, a place where Czech people enjoy spending their holidays, between the legends and the wild natural landscapes. Moreover, this region also gave its title to the IGP. Named the Beer from České Budějovice, this specific label guarantees many key conditions of quality, in terms of raw materials, the coherence of the fabrication and the preservation of tradition.
For instance, their production is actually oriented by their brewmaster, named Adam Brož, a doctor specialized in yeast science and has been one of only ten brewmasters in their 125-year history. Thereafter, their lager get matured for 3 months cold-conditioning in their cellar tanks, offering this distinctive richness and depth of flavors. At last, Budweiser Budvar develops a certain vision of craft brewing and often partners with many microbreweries that share the same values, like Antos, Clock, Cobolis and even Permon (photo credits: Budweiser Budvar)
In the opposition, Tradiční pivovar v Rakovníku is today one of the rare independent traditional breweries of the Czech Republic, unless their factory still employs artisanal methods. For instance, their beer is fermented in open vats and rests in horizontal tanks, during 40 to 60 days, according to the traditional double-mashed technology. These methods are as well ruling their different brands, such as Bakalář (since 1454) which are branded beers, characterized by a unique hop bitterness, full taste, emphasized color and rich firm foam. Although they are not distributed in France yet. With their modernized design, the firm also gained the Beer of the Czech Republic, within their non-alcoholic beer (photo credits: Tradiční pivovar v Rakovníku).
Moreover, under the guidance of their brewmaster baptized Radek Holopírek, who notably became a member of the Academy of Personalities of Czech Brewing, they developed their policy willing to only use the highest quality raw materials of Czech origin, namely native malts, Saaz hops and water from its own deep wells, in order to develop these delicious beers. At last, all these engagements offer to this factory, the right to mark its products with the official IGP for Czech beer.
Primator Brewery (Pivovar Nachod) was founded in 1872 by a certain Master Brewer called Antonín LUTZ, and gradually became specialist in special beers with actually a selection of 15 permanent beers and 4 ephemeral beers. The structure has always been focusing on maintaining traditional Czech brewing methods, by selecting the best local malts and hops, melt into pure spring water. This source, also suitable for the preparation of infant nutrition, is mainly extracted from the state nature reserve of Adršpach-Teplice Rocks, situated in the protected landscape in the Broumovsko area.
From 1935, the first 12° dark beer was marketed under the brand Náchodský Primátor and then under the name Primator which became more popular. In 2003, the brewery launched its range, based on a proper production technology, of top fermentation beers, with a good welcome on the market, so that the Weizenbier won the World Beer Awards, in 2013. Five years later, the company tended to modernize its image, essentially through the design of its bottles. In addition, their Stout also won this so acclaimed WBA, for two consecutive years (2018 and 2019).
Primator pursues to brew with traditional malting methods. Starting with the main fermentation which takes place in open vats., before maturing for several weeks in the lager cellar, following the model of its compatriot breweries. Respecting the authentic spirit of craft beer, although Primator is also able to imagine non-traditional beers, to discover in their selection of 15 different types of beer (pictured nearby).
Indeed, this factory tends to innovate as much as possible in this channel of non-traditional beers, in this highly concentrated Czech market. This perspective offers multiple possibilities of beer styles, showing another facet of these surprising Czech gastronomy. If you have a further look, you would notice that Primator enjoys playing on variations and often launch limited editions of seasonal beers, to demonstrate in a way their creative production and let everyone becoming a part of its story (photo credits: Primator).
This time, we get in touch with the unmissable Bernard brewery! For the joke, as you have maybe noticed, we can translate beer in Czech as pivo, and thus some French consumers may have nicknamed it Bernard Pivo as the famous French moderator. Whereas most of the Czech citizens would rather call it Pivo Bernard.
Originally, born as the Humpolec brewery, in the Moravian highlands, in the 16th century, the structure revived at the end of the Berlin Wall, in 1991. Indeed, three motivated associates Stanislav Bernard, Josef Vávra and Rudolf Šmejkal gave a new life to this highly potential factory, by creating the Humpolec family company. Therefore, it became the first private brewery to arise, just after the fall of communism, which basically occurred in 1989.
Nonetheless, in a growing Czech brewing landscape, many players tended to stand out with an original strategy and the Humpolec structure found its identity and how to get distinguished with an exclusive production of unpasteurized beer. This method can be also found in a bunch of draft beers, by adding carbon dioxide to the keg, as the level drops, in order to prevent your beer from denaturing, or sometimes directly in bottle. Although, this process can only be possible in its production areas , under specific conditions (clean pipes and maintained kegs) because the product can’t be kept for long and then, needs to be drunk quickly to satisfy its amateurs (photo credits: Bernard).
Therefore, this wish to act as a cult brand has attracted attention from a joint stock company and from 2001, welcomed the partnership with the Belgian strategic partners Duvel Moortgat, to support its future international growth efforts.
Have you also wished to explore a beer family affair? You knocked at the right door… Pivovar Matuška is a brewery, founded by the passionate Martin Matuška with the help of his grandmother and son Adam Matuška. Today, this artisanal structure counts around 10 employees and over multiple enthusiasts of the original look and taste of their beers (pubs, restaurants, among others..). Since 2009, this microbrewery, due to its size, has been experiencing a selection of craft beers, in the respect of the tradition, so to say without any filtration or pasteurization along their annual production of 6000 hl. Don’t also miss one their major acts in their short history, as the brewing of one of the first IPA-type beers in the Czech Republic, their now well-known Raptor. Logically, following this success, this Raptor jewel was followed by another family of flavorful beers, such as California, Zlatá Raketa and Apollo Galaxy, which are now considered as the mainstays of the Matuška brewery. Last but not least, as the team also focuses to be as open as possible with their clientele, they decided to open their brewery to the public, in August 2020. A good mood place where the customers may have the opportunity to taste and buy their bottled and draft beer (photo credits: Pivovar Matuška).
Pivovar Matuška, U Radnice 115, 267 42 Broumy (Czech Republic) / Phone : +420 723 983 594 / More information on the official website or on LBT.
Another recent family adventure, with the Pivovar Permon a brewery launched by Ladislav Sas in 2006, who gave birth to this project in his own house, more precisely in his garage. Before giving the guidance to his son Michal Sas, to pursue the exploitation of this former garage beer production. Based in the village of Sokolov, in the Karlovy Vary district, you must have a tour among these old Renaissance castles and the lignite mines (photo credits: Pivovar Permon).
Therefore, nowadays this brewery continues to develop and modernize their infrastructures, thanks to the integration of new technologies in their manufacturing process, that has naturally nothing now to compare to its origin. The main goal of this operation is logically to keep update with the contemporary technologies and thus to remain competitive in a growing demanding market. That’s why, thanks to their brand new brewing equipment, even including an automatic filling line, the factory grew up in possibilities and is now able to produce up to 30HL per day. A wide selection of colorful bottles and cans of various categories of beers, to satisfy all the tastes.
Pivovar Permon has gained a further notoriety and its wide range of beers is now referenced in many leisure spots. A success that permitted in 2012, to take up the challenge to launch the first Pumpkin Ale, before outing in 2013, two other special references, the Angry beer and the Don Habanero Chilli IPA.
Still in the new players, Pivovar Chroust has succeeded to reunite both a brewer and a beer lover, Karolina and Jirka Chroustovsky to start this amateur gypsy brewery project, in December 2016. After realizing how much fun craft brewing could be, Chroust was born and Jirka quit his job in the financial industry and joined Karolina to develop this genuine family craft brewery. During their early days, they really had to brew like authentic gypsy brewers, settling in a couple of different craft breweries, through the Czech Republic (photo credits: Chroust).
Today their situation has changed, since they purchased their own fermenters and placed them inside the walls of one of their neighbors, aka the Clock brewery and its own state-of-the-art style.
Then, how could we talk about this previous Pivovar Chroust, without its best partner in crime Pivovar Clock? This contemporary brewery also opt for quality and universal ingredients, that can suit with various types of beer. Launched by Jakub Sychra, a brewmaster who has been paying many efforts to modernize the process and the image of its structure, since its inception.
Settled in a recently renovated factory in the village of Potštejn, where you should visit the medieval castle formerly owned by the King Charles IV and also became famed in the Alois Jirásek‘s novel Poklad (photo credits: Clock).
Baptized as a Clock, this brewery gives its own time and own graphic identity, through a series of robots portraits, featured on their bottles, in honor of the children’s toys from the factory‘s employees. Along this technological symbol, another colorful beer line, primarily characterized by higher hopping, has been called No Idols !
With such a strong inspiration, in less than 10 years, the production of this factory has increased a lot and the total amount of brewed products has since exceeded the level of fifty items. In addition to the traditional Czech lager beer, we can count on the brewery to also develop top fermentation beers, deserving the structure to have already been awarded three times with the Czech Republic Mini Brewery of the Year prize (2015, 2018 and 2019).
Clock company really started to develop the maturing of its beer in oak barrels, surely in order to provide a proper style and taste and following this initiative, the new brand Fenetra has been created. For your information, the vast majority of these beers mature for months in wooden barrels, such as Cognacs (read our article here) or Whiskys, and then slowly ferment in their bottles. As a matter of fact, this product needs a lot more time and care, for an unpredictable result, only appreciable at the last moment.
Back again with a pillar of the renewal of the local beer industry, Konrad Pivovar Hols Vratislavice was founded in 1948, in a quarter of the Liberec city. Proud of the discovery of a spring in 1862, this area, located on the left bank of the Nisa river, got involved in the mineral water industry and the spa business, undoubtedly providing a premium source for breweries (photo credits: Konrad).
In this industrial region, you can be surprised by a carpet-making know-how, notably famous for having rolled out the world’s largest red carpet installed in 1924, in the Waldorf-Astoria hotel of New York City, by Ginzkey. Anyway, today Konrad offers 14 different varieties of beers, including its original red beer and the Saint-Paul beer. This latter edition has always been brewed according to the original recipe, already dating from the beginning of the 20th century.
Another ancestral structure, the Rebel venture (Měšťanský pivovar Havlíčkův Brod), founded in 1834, made a long way since two centuries, and its own production has never stopped to flourish!
This brewery is implanted in the center of the Czech Republic, more precisely in the city Havlíčkův Brod (“Ford of Havliček”), in honor of Karel Havlíček Borovský, a famous poet, famous for having founded and animated the Czech national renewal literary movement, in the 19th century (photo credits: Rebel).
Indeed, this contemporary container is able to host typical Czech beers, without altering at any moment, its original aromatic symbiosis. Thus, cans can replicate the conservation assets of the traditional bottles but while proposing some possible artistic design tags.
Therefore, Rebel usually brews, while using traditional technology, operating with its own open fermentation tanks and maturing its beers, at low temperature, in lager tanks. Thanks to this endless required performance, these beers have regularly and logically received a list of prestigious awards, in national and international tasting competitions.