What do you get when you combine nearly a millennium of beer brewing expertise and a desire to use that know-how to please the tastes of the American beer-drinking market? Well, if you ask us, you’ve got a bit of a conundrum on your hands. Unfortunately, asking the average American beer-drinker to put down the Miller Light in order to appreciate the work of a masterbrewer is akin to bringing preschoolers to the Italian Renaissance wing of the Louvre and demanding their appreciation. However, the creators of our second featured international beer sought to achieve this goal in the production of their beloved brew. Were they crazy!? Nope, just inspired and ambitious (and rather optimistic, we might add). The story goes like this: founder Meyer Olshin was visiting Prague with his father several years ago while, when enjoying one of the local Czech pilsners, he had an epiphany. He realized that he wanted to bring similar beers to America. As Olshin himself puts it, “I have always been interested in, and a fan of, European beers. While traveling in the Czech Republic I was stunned by the freshness and variety of the pilsner and lager beers in many local taverns. I wanted to bring that clean taste and that heady aroma to America without cutting down on quality through importation.” His solution? The founding of Kisz Bier USA (that’s Kisz, pronounced “kiss”).
With a substantial investment from his father’s textile company, a marketing degree from Touro College in New York, and lots of persistence, he went back to Prague to find a brewery that would craft his beers. We tip our hats to him for choosing the Praszke Pivovary, or for those of us who don’t speech Czech, the Prague Breweries Group, based in—you guessed it—the Czech Republic Capitol of Prague. An impressive choice considering that as Prague’s oldest brewery, founded in 1889, Prazske Pivovary held the critical expertise required to develop an authentic Czech lager beer.
While the Prazske Pivoary has developed numerous best selling beers for sale across Europe, Kisz Bier represents its first sortie into the American beer market. So it’s true, Kisz was developed by Czech Brewmasters with the specific goal of making a beer for the American market. Not the “American beer connoisseur market” mind you, but the beer-drinking market as a whole. Now, let’s be honest, this is slightly counterintuitive to us beer-loving aficionados, since the general tastes of the American beer drinker do not gravitate toward interesting, world class beer (thus explaining the huge popularity of Bud Light, Coors and Miller). But fear not friends, the Czech brewmasters do not disappoint. They skillfully toned down some of the bitterer elements that would otherwise be present in the finish, but retained the complexity inherent in traditionally made Czech beers brewed with the finest Czech hops and malts. The result: a beer that has seen success well above and beyond anticipated projections. Kisz Pilsner was first introduced in February 2002, and despite being a relatively new market entrant, it sold over 2000 cases in its first month! At 24 bottles per case, this means that Kisz Bier USA moved 48,000 bottles in their first month—not bad for company with only six employees!
And their success continues; in less than two years since launch, they gained an incredible 4,000 distribution points in the New York metropolitan area, boasting a tremendous 85% reorder rate. So it would seem that the storied tradition of Czech brewing (it is after all, the home of the very first pilsner beer—now the single most popular style of brew across the globe) in tandem with the flavor of this delicious brew have made it impossible for imbibers to forget their first Kisz.
For more information about Kisz Beer, check out their web site at http://www.kiszbier.com.