There was news yesterday that South Bohemia’s Platan brewery has been bought by K Brewing Group, as my Prague Monitor colleagues reported, via the Czech News Agency.
It’s unknown what exactly this will mean for the plane tree from Protivín, though several other brands that K Brewing has invested in — Malý Rohozec, Svijany and Černá Hora, in particular — are strong small producers with good lines. I certainly do like Platan. It’s the local beer at my in-laws, who live in nearby Písek, and the drive to the brewery gate (above) is one of the prettiest in all of Bohemian beerdom. In warm weather, cyclists, strollers and families from the village head up the allée to the brewery taproom and restaurant. Who doesn’t love plane trees?
Of course, it’s not just that the grounds are photogenic: unlike some brands, Platan is not resting on its basic lagers, to coin a phrase, producing a very good standard 11° golden beer, as well as a couple of outside-the-box brews: the creamy and rich 14° Prácheňská Perla, as well as the kicks-like-a-mule Knížecí 21° (with a memory-distorting 10.6% ABV). No, Platan doesn’t yet produce a semi-dark or a wheat beer, as I suggested Budvar should. (And the golden 14°, at least, is in fairly familiar territory. Let’s call that a “next to the box” brew.) But Platan still does produce a more diverse line of beers than many Czech marques, and all at reliably high quality.
High enough to attract interest from a famous name.
Which brings us to the part of the announcement I found most interesting. Almost lost among the sale news was the brief note that, besides its own brand, Platan also produces beer under license for Plzeňský Prazdroj, aka Pilsner Urquell. In fact, Pilsner Urquell uses the facilities at Platan to brew their Klasik budget lagers, and has previously brewed Primus, another downmarket drinker, there as well.
That means a couple of things: that Platan clearly has unused capacity, while Pilsner Urquell does not, which explains Pilsner’s recent expansion projects at home, as well as its decisions to brew in Poland and Russia. And even though Klasik and Primus are hardly premiums, it’s a small but significant vote of confidence that Platan gets to handle someone else’s workload.
Naturally, no one knows what might or might not change with the new owners in Protivín. But Czech beer lovers could suggest that they use that spare capacity to diversify the Platan product line a bit further.
Every little bit helps. And every new amber beer, wheat beer and strong dark lager helps a lot.