Beer Culture

Stories about great beer from the countries that invented it.

Tag: beer culture

The Czech Republic’s New Beer Map


When my wife and I were preparing our research trips for Good Beer Guide Prague and the Czech Republic, we first had to make a map. We came up with a list of breweries based on information in the Pivovarský kalendář, a publication of the Czech Research Institute of Malting and Brewing, and cross-referenced it with the breweries’ own web sites. Once we had all the addresses, we bought a regular map of the Czech Republic and marked the breweries on it with little red dots. That homemade Czech beer map became an invaluable research tool, helping us to visit every brewpub in the Czech Republic at the time and most of the country’s industrial brewers.

Now a local publisher has put out a professional map of all the breweries in the Czech Republic.

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A Visualization of Beer Consumption By Country


Each year, the Czech Republic consumes the most beer per capita, regularly hitting around 160 liters for every Czech man, woman and child. But how does that compare to other countries?

The visualization above is part of a 12-nation comparison from, and re-posted here with kind permission. Each glass depicts the relative annual beer consumption per person for the specified countries, using data from a 2004 report by the Japanese brewer Kirin, whose retro recipes we noted earlier.

Here’s how the 12 nations stack up:

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Pivovarský Klub Goes Nonsmoking


This weekend, on the first day of spring, something remarkable happened at one of Prague’s favorite destinations for beer lovers: the staff at Pivovarský klub put away the ashtrays for the last time.

So why is a nonsmoking pub in Prague such a big deal?

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What I Heard at Cantillon

The following classic Beer Culture post is one of many which disappeared in the Wormhole Incident™. It is being reposted now because more people should think about beer with a sense of place.

The best thing I heard was when Jean-Pierre Van Roy said “Now we’re going to open the ‘75.”

We were talking about his life and work at Cantillon, the last remaining lambic brewer and geuze blender in the city of Brussels, and Jean-Pierre Van Roy decided that he wanted to open a beer he’d bottled 33 years earlier.

Someone asked “What?” in the way that means “Are you crazy?” Jean-Pierre just nodded and said “It’s time. It needs to be drunk.”

That was the second best thing I heard at Cantillon.

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Czech Beer Expressions

The sign above the door at the taproom of the Vyškov brewery, maker of the very good Jubiler and Generál beers, somewhat ominously recommends that guests have a final brew before leaving. “Have another glass of beer,” it says, “who knows what awaits you outside!”

While the German beer expression “Hopfen und Malz — Gott erhalt’s!” is fairly familiar among the international beer set, most Czech beer expressions — usually in the form of rhyming two-liners — are unknown outside of the country. Nearly every pub here is decorated with the traditional brewer’s greeting, Dej Bůh štěstí, or “God give happiness.” But there are many more, many of which are listed in Good Beer Guide Prague and the Czech Republic. A few favorites:

Lepší pivo v žaludku, nežli voda na plících.
Better beer in the belly than water in the lungs.

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More Thoughts on Italian Beer Culture

It took a few months, but my feature story on craft beer in Italy finally appeared in the NYT travel section this weekend. Seeing it, I started thinking again about Italian beer culture and how different it is to the Czech Republic and other countries which are better known for beer and brewing.

The point I stressed in my first post from the Italian beer trail is part of it: in Italy, the enthusiasm for beer is very high. But beyond mere enthusiasm is something that seems to be missing from the beer culture in the Czech lands and in Germany: education.

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The Salesian Beer Museum


Today’s trash is tomorrow’s treasure, and nowhere is this truism more applicable than in the field of culinary anthropology: if you don’t take your bottles out quickly, they’ll soon form a big, stinking mess. But if you wait long enough, that pile of recycling could become a priceless collection of art, as well as a storehouse of historical information about the way we live and what we consume. This, effectively, is what happened at the Salesian Beer Museum in Prague.

Properly known as the Salesians of Don Bosco, the Salesians are a Roman Catholic religious order known for their work with young people, running community centers and outreach programs around the world. In Prague, they have a youth center at Kobyliské náměstí, a beautiful functionalist complex housing a theater, soccer fields, basketball courts, a climbing wall and rehearsal spaces for young musicians. In the middle of all this is the Salesian Beer Museum, an almost accidental collection of historic bottles, labels, openers, cans and beermats from the Czech Republic and around the world.

Due to a growing interest in breweriana, I made an appointment to visit the collection last week. I was shown around by Brother Antonín Nevola, the center’s director and the founder of the museum.

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