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Pilsner Urquell

Beer (Czech: pivo) has a long history in what is now the Czech Republic, with brewing taking place in Břevnov Monastery in 993.[1] The city of Brno had the right to brew beer from the 12th century, while Plzeň and České Budějovice (Pilsen and Budweis in German), had breweries in the 13th century.[2]

The most common Czech beers are pale lagers of the pilsner type, with a characteristic transparent golden colour, high foaminess, and lighter flavour. The Czech Republic has the highest beer consumption per capita in the world.[3]

The largest Czech beer breweries are Pilsner Urquell (Plzeňský prazdroj, Gambrinus, Radegast, Master); Staropramen (Staropramen, Ostravar, Braník, Velvet); and Budweiser Budvar. Other top-selling brands include Krušovice, Starobrno, Březňák, Zlatopramen, Lobkowicz, Bernard, and Svijany.[4]


A glass of unfiltered dark beer from U Fleků brewery
Map of Czechia made up of beer caps

The history of beer in the modern Czech Republic, historically Bohemia, Moravia, and Silesia, goes back even before the Slavic migration in the 6th century, although the ingredients differed from those used today.[citation needed]

Hops have been grown, used in beer making, and exported since the twelfth century.[citation needed] Most towns had at least one brewery, with the most famous brewing cities in Bohemia being České Budějovice, Plzeň, and Prague. Other towns with breweries include Rakovník, Žatec, and Třeboň.

Beer in České Budějovice

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South Bohemian Budweiser Budvar

České Budějovice has two main breweries: Budějovický měšťanský pivovar a.s. (Samson Budweiser Bier) and Budějovický Budvar n.p. (Budweiser Budvar).

The city was for centuries also known by its German name, Budweis. Brewing is recorded here since the 13th century. The modern Budějovický měšťanský pivovar was founded in 1795 as the Bürgerliches Brauhaus Budweis and is the oldest brewery in the world to use the term "budweiser" when referring to its beer. In 1895, the Budějovický Budvar brewery opened as an ethnically Czech alternative to the German-dominated Budějovický měšťanský pivovar.

In 1876, the US brewer Anheuser-Busch began making a beer that it also called Budweiser. This led to the Budweiser trademark dispute, with both companies claiming trademark rights to the name. In the European Union, Budějovický Budvar is recognized as a product with Protected Geographical Indication. Because of such disputes, Budvar is sold in the United States and Canada under the label Czechvar, and Anheuser-Busch sells its beer as Bud in most of the European Union.

Beer in Plzeň

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Main gate at Plzeňský Prazdroj, home of Pilsner Urquell

Pilsner Urquell was the first pilsner-type beer in the world. In 1842, a brewery in Plzeň employed Josef Groll, a German brewer who was experienced in the Bavarian lager method of making beer. Beer in Plzeň at the time was not of very good quality, and they needed to compete. Groll developed a golden pilsner beer, the first light-coloured lager beer ever brewed. It became an immediate success and was exported all over the Austrian Empire. A special train of beer travelled from Plzeň to Vienna every morning. Exports of Czech beer reached Paris and the United States by 1874. Today, beers made at Plzeňský Prazdroj are Pilsner Urquell, Gambrinus, and Primus.

Beer in Prague

Much of the brewing history of the Czech capital is connected to the various monasteries there, with brewing first recorded at the Benedictine Břevnov Monastery in 993 AD. It is also recorded that in 1088 AD, King Vratislaus II granted a tithe of hops to the Canons of Vyšehrad Cathedral in order to brew beer.[5]

Today, the Prague brewing scene is quite diverse, with Staropramen being the only industrial brewery. The oldest brewpub is U Fleků, which was founded in 1499 and has been brewing beer ever since.[citation needed] Most other breweries and brewpubs in Prague were established post-1989 and especially, post-2000.[citation needed]

Beer in Žatec

The tradition of brewing beer in Žatec spans over 700 years. Žatec Brewery has been owned by Carlsberg Group since 2014. Previously, it was wholly owned by Kordoni Holding Limited, based out of Nicosia, in Cyprus. Saaz hops, a "noble" variety of hops that accounted for more than +23 of total 2009 hop production in the Czech Republic, owes its name to the German spelling of Žatec. [6]

Beer in Brno and South Moravia

South Moravia is known for winemaking, and there are only few large breweries, namely Starobrno in Brno and Černá Hora, although since the 2000s, Akciový Pivovar Dalešice, Pegas, and Richard have been gaining popularity, despite smaller production.[7]

Categories of beer

A glass of Czech lager

Most beer brewed in the Czech Republic is pilsner lager. Czech beers vary in colour from pale (světlé), through amber (polotmavé) and dark (tmavé), to black (černé), and in strength from 3–9% ABV. Top-fermented wheat beer (pšeničné pivo) is also available.

In the Czech Republic, it is still customary to label the strength of beer by the so-called degree scale (in Czech: stupňovitost). It is expressed as a weight percentage of sucrose and is used to indicate the percentage by weight of extract (sucrose) in a solution. So, 12° beer has 12% of these substances dissolved in water. A 10° beer is about 4% alcohol by volume, a 12° is about 5%, and a 16° is about 6.5%.[8]

According to Czech law, categories of beer, regardless of colour or style, are:

Originally, pilsner was a specific term for beers brewed in Plzeň (with Pilsner Urquell being registered as a trademark by the first brewery). The term has come to mean any pale, hoppy lager as a result of imitations of the original beer, especially in Germany, where the style is common.


See also: Category:Beer festivals in the Czech Republic

The Czech Beer Festival in Prague

There are many beer festivals in the Czech Republic. One of them is Pilsner Fest, a two-day event held each year by the Pilsner Urquell Brewery in Plzeň.[10]

The Czech Beer Festival in Prague is the biggest such event in Czechia.

Research institutions



With over forty industrial breweries and seventy small and medium-sized family breweries in Czechia, beer is one of the most important and well-known exports in the country.[11] In 2016, approximately 3.68 million hectoliters of beer was exported within the European Union.[12] As of 2023, Czechia was number five in the world's top beer exporters, with an export amount of 346 million dollars and 2.06 percent of the world's total beer exports.[13] Within the European Union, the country was ranked as the eighth largest beer producer, with a total of 1.8 billion litres produced per annum.[14]

Over fifty percent of beer in Czechia is exported to Slovakia, Germany, Poland, and Russia.[15] Additionally, Czech exports to China doubled from 2014 to 2015, with 0.65 of 3.65 million hectoliters going to the Asian nation.[16] In 2022, Slovakia imported $59 million (17.9%) worth of beer from Czechia, and Germany imported $56 million (17.1%).[15]

There has been a steady decrease in beer consumption within Czechia, but breweries have noted an increase in their production due to rising international interest. Exports are especially important for Czech breweries, as consumption in Czechia has decreased by about five liters per person. The CEO of Staropramen, Petr Kovařík, speculates this is due to a smoking ban in the nation.[17]

Economic impact

This section needs additional citations for verification. Please help improve this article by adding citations to reliable sources in this section. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed.Find sources: "Beer in the Czech Republic" – news · newspapers · books · scholar · JSTOR (November 2023) (Learn how and when to remove this message)

Total employment generated by the beer sector in the Czech Republic provided about 76,000 jobs in 2014. This number was a 4.6 percent decline from 2013, which may be explained by the increasing number of microbreweries and specialty beers, or more beer mixes and ciders being consumed. In 2013 and 2014, the total consumer spending on beer within the country was 2,563,000 million euros and 2,431,000 euros, respectively. Additionally, total brewing production increased 2013 to 2014, from 18.7 billion euros to 19.1 billion euros. This included all brewing companies, breweries, and microbreweries.[18] In total, in 2016, Czech breweries produced a record amount of beer, at 20.48 million hectoliters. This was an increase from 2015 of 1.5 percent. Tourists consumed 750,000 hectoliters of beer in 2016, an increase from 2015 of 19 percent.[19] In 2012, beer production accounted for 0.8 percent of the nominal gross domestic product, and the Czech government benefits from taxes paid on beer. Revenue from excise duties, VAT tax, and income tax in 2012 was about 28,506 million Czech korunas.[20]

Brewing companies

Plzeňský Prazdroj Group

Main article: Pilsner Urquell Brewery

Founded in 1842, the most popular brewing company in the Czech Republic has grown significantly since its creation.[21] Currently, the Plzeňský Prazdroj group of breweries produces the following beers: Pilsner Urquell, Gambrinus, Velkopopovický Kozel, and Radegast. This group has three separate breweries, each of which produce their own specific beer.[citation needed]

In 2010, the Plzeňský Prazdroj group saw an increase in exports by five percent, especially in the German market, with 240,000 hectoliters, the Slovak market, with 114,500 hectolitres, and the British market, with 24,000 hectolitres. Additionally, in 2010, they began sales to the United Arab Emirates, Syria, South Korea, Vietnam, and Argentina.[22]

The company credits their growing sales to Asian countries like Vietnam and Taiwan to the number of international visitors to Czechia. Taiwanese people were the third-largest nationality to visit the brewery each year, after Czechs and Germans, as of 2012.[23]

In 2016, Plzeňský Prazdroj sold 11 million hectolitres of beer, with an increase in 1 million hectoliters, and exports grew by ten percent.[24]

Additionally, it is speculated that the increase in beer exports and consumption is contributed to by the fact that its parent company, SABMiller, was sold to the Japanese Asahi Breweries.[25] The company sought out to acquire more brewing companies, as beer consumption had been declining in Japan.[26]

In 2017, over one third of Plzeňský Prazdroj's sales stemmed from exports, an increase of 8 percent from the previous year. Exports increased by 1.5 million hectoliters. In April, right after the sale to Ashai Breweries, Plzeňský Prazdroj began exports to China.[27] Karel Kraus, manager of the Pilsner Urquell brand, credits the company's success to their increase in beer on tap, which is exported to more than thirty countries and represents twenty percent of the Pilsner Urquell beer industry.[22]

Staropramen Brewery

Main article: Staropramen Brewery

Available in more than thirty-five countries worldwide, Pivovary Staropramen is the second largest beer producer in Czechia, with their main beers being the eponymous Staropramen, Braník, and Velvet. The company operates two breweries: Staropramen and Ostravar. In business since 1998, the company holds 15.6 percent of the domestic beer market.[28] Staropramen is owned by Molson Coors.[29]

In 2008, Staropramen exported 687,000 hectoliters of beer.[30] By 2017, this had grown to 3.1 million hectoliters, an increase of six thousand hectoliters from the previous year.[31]

Budějovický Budvar

Main article: Budějovický Budvar

Budějovický Budvar, not to be confused with the American company Budweiser, is one of the largest brewing companies in the Czech Republic; produces Budweiser, Budvar, Budweiser Budvar. Its main markets outside Czechia are Germany and Slovakia.[32]

See also


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  2. ^ "Plzen, Brewery Museum, House ref. no. 58". Archived from the original on 30 August 2009. Retrieved 27 August 2009.
  3. ^ "Kirin Beer University Report Global Beer Consumption by Country in 2012". Kirin Holdings. Retrieved 19 May 2014.
  4. ^ "Dvacet pivovarů, které jsou nejvíce vidět v médiích". ČeskéNá (in Czech).
  5. ^ "History of Beer". Archived from the original on 18 October 2009. Retrieved 10 November 2009.
  6. ^ "Hop Statistics – Hops Growers Union of the Czech Republic". Retrieved 5 September 2010.
  7. ^ Guide to beer, pubs and alehouses in Brno
  8. ^ "Czech Beer Guide". Archived from the original on 24 October 2020. Retrieved 2 April 2018.
  9. ^ Evan Rail, 2007. Good Beer Guide Prague and the Czech Republic: CAMRA Books
  10. ^ "PILSNER FEST 2009". Archived from the original on 23 June 2010. Retrieved 8 July 2010.
  11. ^ "Beer Nation – Czech Republic". Archived from the original on 26 December 2019. Retrieved 3 December 2018.
  12. ^ "Beer export volume from the Czech Republic 2008-2016 | Statistic". Statista. Retrieved 5 December 2018.
  13. ^ "Beer (HS: Beer) Product Trade, Exporters and Importers". The Observatory of Economic Complexity. Retrieved 12 December 2023.
  14. ^ "Top 10 Beer Producers in Europe". ESM Magazine. 17 August 2023. Retrieved 12 December 2023.
  15. ^ a b "Czech Republic | Imports and Exports | World | Beer made from malt | Value (US$) and Value Growth, YoY (%) | 2011 - 2022". 14 May 2023. Retrieved 12 December 2023.
  16. ^ "Czech beer exports to China doubled last year | Radio Prague". Radio Praha. Retrieved 3 December 2018.
  17. ^ "České pivo, které pijí i Australané. Kovařík: Export je důležitým faktorem růstu". Dení (in Czech). 19 June 2018. Retrieved 3 December 2018.
  18. ^ Economics, Europe (January 2016). "The Contribution Made by Beer to the Czech Republic" (PDF).
  19. ^ s.r.o., PTV Media. "Czech beer production and consumption increases | Prague TV – Living Like a Local!". Retrieved 3 December 2018.
  20. ^ Lajksnerova, Zuzana (2013–2014). "Social Costs and Benefits of Czech Beer Industry – Optimal Taxation". Charles University in Prague – Institute of Economic Studies.
  21. ^ "Plzeňský Prazdroj, a.s." Prazdroj. Retrieved 3 December 2018.
  22. ^ a b "Export of the Pilsner Urquell lager increased by 5 percent last year | Prazdroj". Prazdroj. 10 January 2011. Retrieved 3 December 2018.
  23. ^ "Plzeňský Prazdroj records highest export in its history | Prazdroj". Prazdroj. 30 January 2012. Retrieved 3 December 2018.
  24. ^ "Top Czech brewers to boost production capacity | Radio Prague". Radio Praha. Retrieved 3 December 2018.
  25. ^ Aitken, Roger. "Is Czech Beer the 'Best in the World'...Or Drunken Speculation?". Forbes. Retrieved 3 December 2018.
  26. ^ "Prazdroj kupují Japonci. Za pět evropských pivovarů dají 200 miliard". 13 December 2016. Retrieved 3 December 2018.
  27. ^ "Pilsner Urquell makers register sizable international growth | Radio Prague". Radio Praha. Retrieved 3 December 2018.
  28. ^ o., OMNIO Digital s. r. "Pivovary Staropramen s.r.o. – The present – The present". Archived from the original on 12 April 2021. Retrieved 3 December 2018.
  29. ^ "Staropramen investoval 70 milionů korun do nových obalů na export". Pražský deník (in Czech). 22 June 2016. Retrieved 3 December 2018.
  30. ^ "Spectacular growth at Czech brewery Staropramen – Trademagazin". Trademagazin. 4 March 2008. Retrieved 3 December 2018.
  31. ^ "Staropramen zvýšil export, v Británii sází na pivo Pravha". (in Czech). Retrieved 3 December 2018.
  32. ^ "Last year Budweiser Budvar exported the most beer in its history - Budějovický Budvar, n.p." 2016. Retrieved 3 December 2018.