Members of the International Beer of the Month Club who have been subscription holders for the past few months will likely have observed that a particular beer-loving country has been represented among our monthly features again and again: The Czech Republic. Well, there’s a good reason for that. Make that many good reasons! There are currently over 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. Perhaps not surprisingly then, the Czech Republic boasts the highest per capita beer consumption figures in the world. After the split of Czechoslovakia in 1993, the Czech Republic achieved a major beer victory: first place in beer consumption per capita (many Slovaks prefer to drink wine and thus had pulled down the per capita values prior to the split).The results from a 1998 study completed by the German Brewers Association showed that the Czechs were not only number one in this ranking, but they were number one by a large margin. The study revealed that, per capita, the Czech people drink approximately 334 U.S. pints per year. That’s about a beer a day per man, woman and child (and if you consider that the youngsters probably aren’t tossin’ back too many of those pints, that’s a heck of a lot of beer per adult drinker)! Not England, Ireland or even Germany can compete with these stats. Of course, if Bavaria were to secede from Germany, the crown could potentially pass from our Czech friends to their Bavarian neighbors.
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 brew 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 (or Czech) Saaz hops.
Spawned from this bastion of brewing is Lev Lion Pale Double Bock, 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. The Lev Lion Pale Double Bock is the beer we chose to feature this month—and if you’d like to read more about it, look no further than the next paragraph.
For more information about the Czech Republic and Czech beer culture, look no further than the following website: http://www.radio.cz/en/article/46095.