If you were at all interested in Czech beer culture, you’d probably want to sneak a peek at the legal regulations on beer and beer-based beverages available from the Czech Ministry of Agriculture. I had to wade through those pages when we were putting together Good Beer Guide Prague and the Czech Republic, which included a summary of their obtuse Czech legalese in what we hoped to be semi-legible English.
Imagine my surprise when I saw the changes in a new version of that document. Errors have been fixed, a few vagaries have been cleared up, and at least one category of Czech beer has been washed away — while an interesting new Czech beer category has been proposed in its place.
At the time of the publication of GBG Prague, there were just a few legal categories for beer:
- Lehké pivo (“light beer”), under 7° Balling in original gravity and less than 130 kJ/100 ml
- Výčepní pivo (akin to “taproom beer”), 8° to 10° in original gravity
- Ležák (“lager”), 11° to 12° in original gravity
- Speciální pivo (or “special beer”), 13° and higher in original gravity
- Porter, a dark beer composed primarily of barley malt, 18° and higher in original gravity
And that was largely it, with a few more clarifications or specifications: the grist of pšeničné pivo (“wheat beer”) had to contain at least 1/3 wheat malt; kvasnicové pivo (“yeast beer”) was (confusingly) only defined as containing an addition of fermenting wort, but not yeast itself; řezané pivo (“cut beer,” generally a mix of pale and dark lagers) had to be of two beers from the same category (eg, two “taproom” or two “lager” beers).
You can see the old document here: http://iom.vse.cz/wp-content/uploads/2008/03/vyhlaska_335_1997.pdf
The new document, available from the website of the State Agricultural and Food Inspectorate, makes some very interesting changes.