The Czechs have a long history with beer, and rightly so, the Czech Republic has the highest beer consumption per capita in the whole world. The most common Czech beers are pilsner and pale lagers, a style that often gets a bad rep. The Czech lagers discussed in this article are a far cry from watery beers that have frequently come to represent this beer style.
Czech lager/Czech pilsner
Why you should take the pilgrimage to Czech
The mouth feel suggests a commingling of an early morning freshness and a snap of crispness, and each gulp (this is a beer to gulp rather than sip) is elegantly poised between the sweetness of the Moravian malt and the spice and sensuality of the Saaz hop before it finishes with a firm collaboration of dryness and bitterness. Anyone who has any interest in Czech beer should be encouraged to make a pilgrimage to this gem of a brewery situated on the edge of České Budějovice, deep in southern Bohemia. However, if you cannot make the journey just yet, then do dive deeply into a bottle of Budvar you won’t be disappointed.
The pinnacle of the brewer's art
In this beer age of IPAs, imperial this and thats plus sours that suggest some brewers have taken Buzz Lightyear’s catchphrase To Infinity and Beyond rather too seriously, it’s easy to forget the similar, joyous nature of Czech Pilsners such as Budvar as well as its senior partner Pilsner Urquell. When it is made perfectly, I would argue that pale lager/Bohemian Pilsner (or světlý ležák if your Czech is any good) is one of the pinnacles of the brewer’s art, a redemptive beer that has heritage, depth of flavour and character and a lightness of touch that keeps bringing the drinker back to the glass. It’s easy to chuck a load of hops into the boil and shout IPA!, but the subtlety and the harmony of světlý ležák is a harder thing to achieve.
Czech beer brands
The world champion beer drinkers are the Czechs, with 145 litres per year per capita. Popular and best selling beer brands include, Krušovice, Starobrno, Březňák, Zlatopramen, Gambrinus, Velkopopovický Kozel, Radegast, Staropramen, Budvar....and of course, Pilsner Urquell!
Pilsner is where it all began. That is why a visit to Pilsner Urquell is a journey all committed beer lovers should make. After all, it was here that in 1842 that a grumpy Bavarian brewer called Josef Groll was tasked by Pilsen’s burghers to produce a beer that would wash away the memories of the dreadful beers previous brewers had made for the locals. The result was a gleamingly golden, sparkling, lustrous lager, the first of its kind and still being brewed today. Given that the Czechs are inordinately proud of their beers, it comes as no surprise that the home of Pilsner Urquell is one of the most popular tourist sites in the country.