Czech breweries are no longer doing good business just exporting the country’s famous golden brew –they are exporting Czech beer culture and tank pubs are becoming a hit across Europe. The news site idnes.cz created a map of emerging Czech style tank pubs and Great Britain definitely comes out top of the pile.
Plzeňský Prazdroj, producer of the famous Pilsner Urquell has 15 tank pubs around Britain, Krušovice boasts seven and Staropramen and Budějovický Budvar have five each. The trend of drinking fresh unpasteurised beer from copper tanks is definitely catching on. Albert’s Schloss, Manchester’s first tankovna or tank pub, which opened last year, now get fresh deliveries of tank beer twice a week in temperature-controlled trucks from the cellars of the Pilsner Urquell brewery in Plzeň. The Oast House in Spinningfields was the first Budweiser Budvar tank beer site outside of London, while Cottonopolis chose Krušovice for their tank beer, becoming the first stockist in Manchester. The Viking in Manchester offers tank Budvar while Hare and Hounds in Brighton has put its money on Staropramen.
Tank beer also presents a whole different concept of beer drinking. Whereas processed beers can last for months or even years, fresh tank beer must be tanked up within hours of leaving the brewery and consumed within five to seven days. It also calls for a special technique of pouring and Czech breweries send out their own tap-masters to ensure that their beer is given proper treatment abroad.
In general, breweries say that the relationship to pubs which serve their tank beer is much closer than with other clients–deliveries take place on a regular basis every few days and the investment into the huge copper tanks which dominate the interiors of these tank pubs is not insignificant which suggests a long-term business commitment. Czech-style beer pubs are appearing in Poland and Slovakia, Hungary, Austria, Germany and Sweden, where the main rivals are Krušovice and Staropramen. German beer lovers prefer Pilsner Urquel or Budvar and it is only Bavaria – which boasts a strong beer culture similar to the Czech one that is so far resisting the trend.