Published on July 10, 2019 | by Alastair Gilmour0
Playing the beer instrument
Beer is more than a refreshing drink, it gets into your very being. Alastair Gilmour reports on Czech Beer Day
Regardless of how many visits you make to the great brewing nations, the reverence bestowed on beer never ceases to amaze. In parts of Europe, beer is on a par with religion, it flows deep into culture, influencing economies and turns the wheels of society.
Take a couple of comments by Libor Secka – whose official title is Ambassador of the Czech Republic to the Court of St James’s – at last month’s Czech Beer Day, held in the garden of the Czech Embassy in London.
In his welcome speech he said: “Beer is part of our lives; it’s not just something to drink, it’s a powerful force. When two Englishmen meet, the first one will quote Shakespeare, ‘To be or not to be’, while when two Czechs meet, they’ll say, ‘Two beers or not two beers’.
“You are not just going to the pub, you are going to meet your friends and there you will find a variety of people such as doctors, ministers and plumbers. Beer is an instrument, it’s part of our lives.”
Czech Beer Day was part of a week-long celebration of the country’s brewing heritage that involved workshops, meet-the-brewer sessions, beer pairings and tastings held all over London. Specialist drinks importer Euroboozer teamed up with Czech Trade and Czech Tourism to feature the best of the country’s beer in 2019.
Euroboozer managing director Martyn Railton says: “The Czech Republic is steeped in beer-making history and heritage and its beers are a symbol of quality around the world.
“I believe most UK consumers have only just scratched the surface when it comes to the country and its beer. Local breweries are now being brought back to life after years of being closed or run down by the government and international plcs and are now thriving.”
Martin Macourek, director of Czech Trade UK & Ireland, compares Czech lager favourably with British real ale – both using traditional methods of production and attention to detail at every stage.
He says: “It takes between 100 and 200 days to brew Czech lager compared to ten days for mainstream lager brands in Europe, mostly taking place in open vessels. The job is finalised via a very long maturation typically taking place in historical cellars.
“A characteristic feature of Czech-style pilsner beers is that they retain the pleasant full taste of the original malt extract. This grants the beer a full body, a bready taste, a pleasant earthy and grassy smell, and much darker colour than the ones associated with common European lagers.”
At Czech Beer Day we sampled Albrecht IPA (6.2% abv), Bohemia Regent Pale Lager (5.0% abv), Jarosovsky Lezak (5.1% abv), Pivovar Matuska Desitka (4.2% abv) and Holba Premium (5.2% abv) in an amazing session of cultural exchange.
Other brewers represented were Jihmestsky Pivovar, Pivovar Koruny, Budweiser Budvar, Pivovar Cvikov and Kutna Hora Brewery. There’s only so much you can do in an afternoon – but there’s always a next time.