Beer Culture

Stories about great beer from the countries that invented it.

Březňák Doppel-Doppel Bock


Otherwise known as Březňák, Pivovar Velké Březno has one of the strangest and most tragic histories in the Czech lands. Located in the Czech-German border region that was once called the Sudetenland, for most of its early existence the brewery had a pronouncedly German clientele. Now, returning to its roots, the brewery has launched an excellent new beer for the German market: the so-called Doppel-Doppel Bock.

Of course, it’s never quite that simple when the Nazi invasion of Czechoslovakia and the Holocaust are concerned, and Březňák is so weirdly mixed up in the situation that as you hear the story it’s hard to remember which level of irony you’ve reached. For example, this brewery proudly supplied beer to Rommel’s Afrikakorps throughout the war. But the man who posed for the picture on the label, Victor Cibich, aka Zippich — the very image of a once-Nazi brewery — was actually a German-speaking Czech Jew. And yes, it gets even weirder from there.

But first: the beer. I found this one at Pivní galerie, where owner Petr Vaněk said he thought it was one of the last such bottles in the country. (Though afterwards, I saw a few more at the new “Beer Gallery” bottle shop on Nerudova, which I’ll write about another time.) It is a German 500-milliliter bottle, and virtually everything on the label is in German, claiming that this is perhaps the first Doppel-Doppel Bock in the world, and noting that it was brewed at 21° and that it contains 10% alcohol by volume. Unlike most beers of this strength in the Czech Republic, it does not list added sugar as an ingredient: just water, malt, hops, hop extract and yeast.

Doppel-Doppel Bock (10% ABV) Clear amber with a thick, sandy head that makes a good effort to stick around, despite the high-alcohol odds. Very light carbonation. A nose of straw and nutty sweetness hinting at candied walnuts. In the mouth it is vinous, sweet and full without being cloying, lacking the saccharine aftertaste of most added-sugar strong beers. Instead, there is a lasting natural syrup with maple and honey notes that finishes with a pleasant hop tang. Additional sips bring out notes of almonds and baked apples. Remarkably well-incorporated alcohol for 10%. This is definitely a sipper, a winter warmer, and probably the best beer brewed at this strength in the country.

Tasting it, I was definitely impressed, and at several moments it struck me less like a beer than like something I would pour on pancakes — it is that syrupy. It is apparently not very well-known, as it was not listed on Březňák’s beers at It seems a pity that this beer is not more widely available, but perhaps things will change. I’ve given a bottle to Max Bahnson, who’s planning to write about it soon.

Oh, and the rest of the story: so Pivovar Velké Březno supplied beer to the Afrikakorps, despite having adopted a Jewish man’s face for its logo as early as 1906. Victor Cibich himself died in 1916; his wife, Auguste, passed away in 1938. They left behind two grown-up sons, Bruno and Paul, who, as Jews, were sent to concentration camps during the war. Against all odds, the two Cibich boys survived and returned to Velké Březno after the war. But after a scant few months at home, they were forced to leave in the anti-German purges of 1946. That is to say: they were first expelled by the Germans for being Jews, and then they were expelled by the Czechs for being Germans. Bruno and Paul Cibich settled in Nuremberg, Germany, where they died within a few days of each other, in 1967.


Tasting Notes: Two Polish Brews


Kaltenecker Brokát Dark


  1. Nice post. Better than mine, I must admit…..
    Still, perhaps we, together with our readers can talk Drinks Union into start selling this fantastic beer here.

  2. I like your take on it. I think this beer has to be released here — let’s talk them into it!

  3. We must!!! Let’s start writing emails and see what the SPP can do about it. It is a pity that local beer lovers can’t have regular access to this wonder.

  4. John Engels

    Very interesting post. Perhaps you would know about another Afrikakorps bottle I saw several years back. It was clear glass and it had “Afrikakorps” and a Swastika on one side of the bottle. The bottle was sold out of Poland and it was about the size of a regular beer bottle. Does anyone know anything about this type of a bottle and who would have supplied whatever it’s contents were to the Afrikakorps?

  5. Thorskind

    Can anyone tell me anyplace in the Rhien-land pfalz or the Saarland region of Germany that sells this beer (Březňák Doppel-Doppel Bock)? A local Getranke shop (I live in Bitburg, the home of piss water beer) only could get two cases of it over two months. They get a weekly shipment of Breznak pils and shwarzbier, the Breznak pils is worse than Bitburger. Okay so I only drink bock bier and strong dunkel type biers.
    Prost from Thorskind in Germany…

  6. Hi Thorskind… I’m pretty sure the Doppel-Doppel Bock isn’t being brewed anymore. If you find a bottle or a case now, buy it!

    I don’t think Březňák pale lager is (or was) as bad as Bitburger. Try the Březňák světlý ležák with 5.1% ABV instead of the Březňák světlé výčepní with 4.1% ABV and it should be more of a true Czech Pilsner-style taste.

    If it’s not, then we know who to blame: Heineken, the new owner of the brewery.

  7. ap davenschot

    I must agree with Thorskind that the Breznak Pils is not a very good beer. The brewery should work on it. With Heineken as their owner it should not be difficult to make te necessary investments, either in equipment or in technology. That is: If they wish to make a better beer. I hope they will. I recently bought a few bottles of their “Schwarzbier” when in became available in the German town of Emlicheim, close to the Netherlands border, and this was exactly the Schwarbier I was looking for. A very full taste, a nice bitterness of hops. So now I know what they are capable of and it really is a shame they don’t produce a Pils with equal qualities, something like Pilzner Urquell before it was taken over by SAB Miller

  8. Hi, Davenschot. Which one did you try? As I wrote, the one with 5.1% alcohol? Or the one with 4.1%?

  9. ap davenschot

    Hello Evan, I was not aware of your question, responding to my remarks on Breznak Pils. I’m sorry for that. It will probably have been the 4.1% type, I don’t recall. It is common use to expport only the weak varieties in order to save on alcohol taxes. Accountants probably promote this way of working and marketeers seem unable to convice the company that their job is to sell beer and not to save on taxes if this means putting a beer for sale that no one will want to buy a second time bevcause of a lack of taste.

Leave a Reply

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén