Drinking in Czech lager and history

On the edge of the Czech capital Prague within one of a cluster of historic buildings is housed the Břevnov Monastery Brewery whose output is a mix of traditional lagers, which the former monks would recognise, alongside some newer styles.

Pulling open the doors on the long structure emblazoned with the welcoming words ‘Pivovar’ (which translates as Brewery) reveals a predominantly modern set-up with two rows of tall conical fermenting vessels along with two old-school open vessels that are a little nod to tradition.


Aleš Potěšil of Břevnov Monastery Brewery

The brewery turns out around 3,000 hectolitres per year that typically comprises six different lagers that spend a total time in tank of around six weeks in order to condition them as authentic Czech lager. The double-decoction process delivers unpasteurised, unfiltered lagers with a shelf-life of around one month.

This short timeframe is not a particular problem as the beers do not sit around for long. This is helped by the fact they are sold within the local market – of which 25% is consumed within the tap room and restaurant that sit within the monastery complex just a few yards away from the brewery.

Benedict

At the time of my visit the range in tank consisted of the regular Světlý Ležák Benedict – that accounts for 65% of sales – dark lager, smoked lager, a malt-rich IPA, and a hefty imperial lager. The range showed the full texture deliverable by decoction mashing and in terms of the dark lager it takes advantage of the open vessels to add further depth to the characteristics of what is a rich brew for its modest ABV.

The range also includes an annual seasonal beer produced with a variety of Saaz hops grown on tall poles located outside the entrance to the brewery. The 25kg crop contributes to the creation of a 2,000 litre brew. To savour this lager surely warrants a return to this idyllic brewing spot.

Glynn Davis, editor, Beer Insider

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