There are more than 300 small breweries in the Czech Republic, which has a total area just smaller than the state of South Carolina. With a populous of about 8 million people, that’s quite a few breweries per capita. Not surprisingly then, the Czech Republic boasts the highest per capita beer consumption figures in the world.
The Czechs consider beer part of their daily life; they will often drink beer with breakfast, lunch, and dinner; after work, or before it, and often during it (on lunch break, of course!) This heritage of beer drinking has a long history behind it. The Czechs have nearly a millennium of beer-brewing experience under their belts. Local agricultural conditions are ideal for growing hops, and their cultivation in Bohemia has been chronicled as far back as 859 A.D., while the first evidence of their export dates back to 903 A.D.. These hops were exported to Germany via the Elbe River to the Hamburg hops market in 1101, and to this day the world still cherishes Bohemian (aka Czech) Saaz hops.
Spawned from this stronghold of brewing is this month’s 2nd featured international beer, brewed by Pivovar Hradec Králové in Eastern Bohemia. Hradec Králové means “Queen’s Castle” and the town had been the summertime retreat for Czech Royalty for centuries. In 1844, the many breweries located throughout the town were brought together in one small brewery, located right next to the classic Gothic cathedral in the town square, officially forming the Pivovar Hradec Králové. The brewery’s primary beers have all been awarded high praise and respectable accolades. The LEV Black Lion, a classic Czech “tmave”, or “dark” beer, was awarded the Gold Medal in the “Beer of the Czech Republic 2000”. It is a rich, sweetly malted brew with distinct coffee notes, finishing with a light fruity hop finish. The LEV Lion Lager was also a Gold Medal winner in the “Beer of the Czech Republic 2000” (a good year for the brewery to say the least). It is a premium quality, hand crafted full-bodied pilsner style lager, with an unmistakably Czech, crisp and clean, hoppy, dry finish. All very well made beers, we selected the LEV Lion Pale Double Bock to celebrate the start of Spring.