Rodinný Pivovar Bernard - Bohemian Lager
- ABV: 4.9%
- Bottle Size: 330-ml
- Int’l Bittering Units (IBUs): 37
- Serving Temperature: 40-45° F
- Suggested Glassware: Pilsner Glass, Willi Becher, Mug
- Hops: Saaz
While pilsner is often associated with Germany, as that nation is home to a multitude of excellent interpretations which have inspired countless others around the world, the style originated in the Bohemian town of Plzeň, in what is now the Czech Republic. Bernard’s Bohemain Lager is one of many pilsner variations produced by Bernard, and is known at home as “Světlý Ležák 12” (Light Lager 12), or simply “Dvanáctka” (Twelve) – the 12 being a measure of its original gravity of 12° Plato. This pils pours a rich golden to light amber color with a just-off-white cap of foam. Bursting forth right off the bat in the aroma we get a nice dash of Saaz hops, the classic Czech noble variety that defines Bohemian-style pilsners, offering spicy-herbal, earthy, and somewhat woody notes. Beneath the bright hop character, look for a lush undercurrent of lightly toasty, bready malt. That malt profile comes through quite prominently on the palate, as well, offering mild caramelization and an endearing toastiness – characteristics of these traditional Bohemian pilsners that are not generally found in the later German style that tends towards edgier hops and milder malt character. The Saaz hops deliver a moderate balancing bitterness along with some spicy, grassy notes. Rich and satisfying while remaining nimble and easy-drinking, Bernard’s Bohemian Lager makes for an enjoyable experience all on its own, but is also an extremely food-friendly brew. We’d steer towards fried chicken or other breaded dishes, as well as grilled sausages, pizzas, or your favorite burgers or sandwiches. Na zdraví!
In the town of Humpolec, prior to 1597, brewing was done by citizens who ran their own small brewing operations to produce beer for their own use. But, in that year, regulations gave brewing authority solely to the owners of the Herálec manor. Fast forward all the way to the 1930s, and this brewery, under the ownership of Marie Terizie Fügnerová, was producing over 20,000 hectoliters of both light and dark lagers to serve the town of Humpolec and the nearby towns of Havlíčkův Brod, Ledeč, and Pelhřimov.
In the mid-20th century, as Czechoslovakia suffered under communist state control of all industry, including brewing, very little was invested into the country’s breweries and, as the joke among Eastern Bloc laborers went, “They pretend to pay us, and we pretend to work.” The brewery in Humpolec was not spared, and it fell behind technologically as its beer quality went downhill.
After the Velvet Revolution put an end to the communist regime, Stanislav Bernard, Josef Vavra, and Rudolf Smejkal joined up in 1991 to buy the brewery in Humpolec and establish Rodinný Pivovar Bernard (Bernard Family Brewery). The brewery was refurbished with improvements to the electrical systems, boilers, and bottling line, among others, and they became the first brewery in the country to introduce microbiological filtration without pasteurization. They also acquired their own malthouse in 2000. Bernard founded the Association of Small Independent Breweries in 1993, successfully campaigning the government to reduce taxes on small breweries, which set the stage for a multitude of independent breweries to survive and thrive. In fact, as of 2020, there were more than 500 in the Czech Republic.
In 2001, the famous Belgian brewery Duvel Moortgat became a 50% partner in Bernard, funding additional investments in the brewery and their growth in the region and beyond, enabling them to focus on increasing their export capacity – for which we’re certainly thankful as beneficiaries. Bernard currently produces a wide array of beers focused mostly on traditional lagers, but there are some others in the mix, including a sour cherry beer and even an IPA. We’re excited to bring you their classic Bohemian Lager this month, and we hope you enjoy it as much as we did. For more info on the brewery, visit them at www.bernard.cz/en.
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