Top 5 Czech Beers
The Czech Republic is known for the beautiful scenery, friendly people, tasty food, and – of course – incredible beer.
Not only is much of the beer brewed locally, but the Czechs really know how to create intense and flavorful brews. Not to mention, the price of a pint in this country will cost about 1/7 of the price it would in London – a pint will usually set you back between $1-2, so you have the chance to imbibe more than just one or two. Just make sure you find your way back to your Airbnb, okay? Deal.
History of Beer in the Czech Republic
The history of beer in this country dates back even before the Slavic migration during the 6th century, cementing itself as a rich part of the country’s history and culture. The hops were grown and used in beer making since the 12th century. Most towns in the country had at least one brewery, with the most famous areas located in Bohemia, being the towns of Plzen and Prague.
Beer Towns in the Czech Republic
Breweries have always been a big part of České Budějovice and their culture. The city was known for many centuries by the German name, Budweis – brewing is on the record here since the 13th century. One brewery here, Budějovický měšťanský pivovar, is the oldest brewery in the world – and incindentally created the word ‘budweiser’ as a term when referring to its own beer. In 1876, Anheuser-Busch in the US began making Budweiser – you can see where they got their inspiration from.
Another important town in the Czech beer culture is Plzen – home of hte famous Pilsner Urquell. This was the first type of pilsner in the world. In 1842, the brewery hired a German brewer who was experienced in Bavarian lagers, and he helped turn around the company, and created the brewery’s first light-colored lager beer. The beer was so successful that it reached the US by 1874.
PragueThe last part of the country which was the most successful in the Czech Republic was Prague, and had a history with the various monasteries in the city. Brewing was first recorded at the Brevnov Monastery in 993 AD, and has since expanded. Today there are 40 breweries and brewpubs, with the oldest being U Fleku. Many of the other businesses have been created in the past 20 years, enhancing the ever-growing beer scene.
As you can see, beer and breweries are a huge part of the country’s culture. Throughout history, the Czech Republic has been creating new types of beer, expanding their businesses, and offering some of the best pours in the world. We have come up with the top 5 beers in the Czech Republic.
1) Pilsner UrquellAs we stated about Plzen, it was one of hte most successful brewing cities in the country. Pilsner was the world’s first pale lager, and has been copied for decades past. The beer is hopped with Saaz hops, a type used extensively in Bohemia, and is used in 2/3 of the beer produced in the country. This concoction is made using pale malts, soft water, and has a very distinctive hoppy taste.
Pilsner is sold all around the world, but we recommend heading to the Pilsner Brewery in Plzen – and it’s only an hour outside of the capital city of Prague. Since the mid 90s, Pilsner has been brewed using the more modern metal tanks. However, if you visit the brewery, you’l be able to taste the historical version of the brew, where the beer is brewed in open barrels and stored in the cellar.
This is a beer with some history – which makes it all the more tasty. A town called Velke Popovice, a small civilization 15 miles south of Prague, built a brewery in the late 19th century. The brewery was credited with introducing new technologies, and improved the production capacity in the 20th century.
After the brewery opened, it survived WWI, and underwent a short period of stagnation. After the war, the brewery faced a lack of workers. The brewery solved this problem by hiring women workers in the brewery – the first-ever women to work in the brewery. After 30 years of socialism, the brewery gained independence in 1991. In 1992, the brewery became a public company, creating what we know today.
This brewery is especially famous for producing the famed Kozel – a line of beers that have about six variations, ranging from a pale draught beer to a semi-dark special edition option. Kozel became the best selling Czech beer in the world, and is currently sold in 30 countries.
The original version of Kozel is a smooth, slightly-bitter, and malted lager. At only 4.6% alcohol volume, this beer isn’t too heavy for any occasion.
Svijany Brewery is one of the oldest Czech breweries, being created in 1564. Located in the village of Svijany in the Liberec District, the brewery was first mentioned in 1345, when the Cistercian monastery was in control of the village. After centuries of management changes, closures and openings, the brewery became a part of the Belgium-based Interbrew group. In 2010, Svijany was then owned by the Liberec Investment Fund, and created what we know of today.
By 2011, the brewery had an award-winning beer in the category of semi-dark and dark beers. The brewery produces unpasteurized lagers, creating the unique flavor profile. This makes it different from other Czech beers, with the brewery producing a famous wheat beer, and a 6.5% special pale ale.
Despite being one of the country’s youngest beers, this brand has become etremely popular in recent years. This craft beer is as clean as you can get – yes, health junkies, this one’s for you. No added extracts or sugars are used in the making of this beer, and instead, they use different types of yeasts and filtered water.
Even though this brand creates a wide rnage of beers, from typical ales to super-dark and strong lagers, we recommend the Zlata Raketa. Featuring an alcohol content of 7%, this one isn’t for the faint of heart. Despite the slightly-higher alcohol volume of this pour, the citrusy and tropical notes will make you feel as if you’re sipping on some light, sweet, and refreshing summertime drink.
Dating back to the 16th century, this family-owned brewery using a process in which the beer is not pasteurized. It is the biggest brewery in the southeastern region of Bohemia, and started shipping to international countries in 2009, broadening the brewery’s exports.
The brewery produces a high number of hectoliters per year, reaching 315,000 in 2016. Employing 150 people, the brewery produces 9 beers, ranging from a pale draught beer to an IPA. One of the most popular options here is the Bernard 10, a 10 degree pale draught beer with just a 3.8% alcohol volume.
This Bohemian pilsner is a clear pour, with a golden-amber hint. The foamy white head tops off the perfect pint. You’ll taste some bitterness, some hops, and some sweetness in your sip. Some grassy hops will mix with some sweetness at the end, even though the earthy flavor seems to be the main taste in the end. A basic, well-concocted, and light beer that is easy to drink during the day – the perfect pint.
With a wide range of beer choices, a family-run style, and an extremely popular namesake, this beer has a lot going for it. Not to mention, it tastes pretty great as well.
Although the beer in the Czech Republic isn’t the only reason to visit – isn’t it the most important?
When visiting the Czech Republic, we always hear of the same things. ‘You have to go to Prague’ and ‘The Old Town is SO pretty’ and – of course – ‘The beer is unbelievably inexpensive.’ Well, tourists of the world, you’re right about all of those statements. One you forgot, however – the beer isn’t only cheap, but it’s very good.
There are numerous breweries spread throughout the country, with beer-making a huge part of the country’s history. Scattered throughout the capital city of Prague, breweries are also situated across the country, located in small, rural towns. Each brewery has their own unique method of creating their own, personalized beers.
Some breweries create unpasteurized beers, some use different casks, and some create a wide range of products, from hoppy IPAs to dark stouts. We see family-run breweries that started from a small hole-in-the-wall establishment, to larger-scale buildings which have only seemed to grow in size and grandeur in recent years.
Despite the origins of the brewery, the beers that are consistently produced from these establishments have one thing in common – they are consistently amazing. Czech beers are known for being full of flavor, lower in alcohol content, and easily sipped on throughout the day. Now we know why so many Czechs enjoy a beer – or four – at lunch time.
With the always-popular Pilsner Urquell to the Bernard, the Czechs have a fantastic taste in beers. We recommend heading to the country so you can enjoy a fresh pour of all of these brews – after all, wouldn’t it be better to get it right from the source, instead of a bottle that has been shipped across the oceans?
So, instead of heading to Mexico for the fourth time on your next vacation, head to the Czech Republic, rent a car, and travel to all of the breweries on this list. Not only will you drink enough beer to last a lifetime (or maybe just a week), we are confident that you’ll sample some of the best pours you’ve had in your life, you’ll learn more about the beer culture in the country, and you’ll be able to tour some of the oldest and most popular breweries in the country. Talk about a win-win.