For a long time, the only innovation on the Czech beer market was the production of gimmicky flavored beers, usually a standard Czech Pilsner-style beer with fruit extract added after lagering. For many real beer fans, these flavored beers represented only a half-step toward the goal of better quality and bigger variety in the local beer market, a stumble in sort of the right direction.
Better would have been beers made with the whole fruit or herbs — not extract or syrup — in the brewing kettle, not added at the end as a kind of cocktail. Better still would have been to skip the gimmicky flavored beers and honestly attempt the world’s classics: Vienna lager; Baltic porter; Bock and Doppelbock; smoked beers; wheat beers; Belgian styles; stout, porter, bitter, mild or IPA.
But now, many of those classic beers are being produced — often quite successfully — in the Czech lands. And in hindsight, not all Czech flavored beers seem like gimmicks. Although some were (and are) downright terrible, a few flavored beers have been quite interesting, such as vavřín, the new bay-leaf beer from Pivovar Broumov, aka Opat.