The popularity of Czech beer is growing both in traditional export markets such as the US and Canada, and in unlikely destinations such as Antarctica. Not only are exports of the golden brew rising, but breweries abroad are increasingly seeking the services of Czech brew masters.
Ladislav Veselý is an experienced brew master who can take his pick from the offers streaming in from foreign breweries eager to acquire Czech know-how. He knows all the tricks of the trade, but says that, at the end of the day, the most important thing is to use the right ingredients and avoid any shortcuts in production.
“Whenever I brew beer abroad, I always try to use home ingredients, flown-in from the Czech Republic. Trying to brew Pilsner type beer with powder yeast is simply not a good idea.”
While Czech-type beer is brewed in many countries around the world, the interest in authentic Czech beer imported from the Czech Republic is also growing. Czech beer exports abroad have doubled in the past ten years and for instance beer exports to South Korea have quintupled since 2015. Since 2018 Czech beer is also being exported to Antarctica. Not only are the traditional breweries doing good business, but new craft breweries are emerging all the time.
Martina Ferencová is Executive Director of the Association of Czech Breweries and Malt Houses:
“You now get one mini-brewery cropping up every week. We currently have 450 of those and also another 30 big breweries. The boom is so big that skilled brew masters are in short supply.”
This year 45 Czech students who enrolled at the Prague Technical College chose to specialize in this discipline and breweries are already fighting over them. Many offer students training at their laboratories or in production in an effort to secure them as future employees.
Even so the number of graduates entering the market is insufficient and some breweries offer requalification courses which are in high demand. Pavel Palous, a beer master at the Cobolis mini-brewery says he has trained dozens of people.
“We have trained around 100 people in the art of brewing beer and I would say that they helped set up around 20 mini-breweries. Interest in acquiring skilled brew masters is huge – and not just in the Czech Republic.”
In addition to the success of traditional recipes such as Pilsner or Budvar and the many unconventional craft brews emerging, there is another important element in the Czech beer know-how: the beer culture that says how beer should be stored, tapped, the temperature of the brew and the kind of glass that is suitable for it. There are training centres around the country for pub and restaurant employees. Even so, the majority of Czechs take care of these small details themselves – 60 percent of Czechs now buy their beer in bottles and drink it at home.