A Kind of Zythologic Archeology

The case of the country that has the world’s highest per-capita beer consumption (156.9 litres per person) is rather singular. Until recently, the Czech Republic still had a large number of small breweries next to the historical Plzeňský Prazdroj, better known under its German name, Pilsner Urquell.

Yet, this country of long brewing tradition and which today exports over 2 million hectolitres each year has lost many of its small brewing structures at a time when so many countries are gaining them – the result of share purchases and outright buyouts by InBev, SabMiller and Heineken, not to mention those that have simply closed.

Thus, paradoxically, in Prague it’s not so easy to find, to unearth, to chow down on a real craft beer. It might even be called a complete challenge! But after crawling numerous bars, I finally found one!

What I found was Svijany, survivor of a bygone era and still produced in a village far from the capital, in the secluded Liberec district, by the Svijany brewery, founded in 1564.

Being Czech, obviously it’s a pils, named “11.” When you’ve walked a long time to find it during the Prague spring, it offers the wonderful quality of being eminently refreshing. Surprisingly, the aroma is flavourless, then the mouthfeel is completely hoppy although moderately bitter. Grassy and floral, this pilsner with average carbonation presents, however, an embarrassing phenolic finish. But I was so happy to find it that I’ll forgive it that defect…