What makes a Czech beer - Czech?
Czechs always treated beer seriously. In the 13th century, King Wenceslaus ordered that everyone caught exporting cuttings of the famous Bohemian hops would be punished with - death. Nowadays, thankfully, there is no need for such radical measures, but the serious attitude remains. Enter any pub in Czechia, no matter how remote it is and chances are you will be served a great mug of Světlý Ležák. Simply, the overall quality of beer in this country is at an extraordinary level. There is a huge number of reasons for this and we would like to point out four that we feel are the most important:
1. ŽATEC HOPS
King Wenceslaus orders were imposed for a reason. Czech hops, most notably the Saaz variety, are a product of the Žatec region. What makes Žatec special is that is an area protected by mountains that helps create the so-called rain shadow. The soil and climate conditions are perfect for growing the noble Saaz hop.
Moravian barley malt is a local kind of 2-row barley that gives a soft touch to the beer thanks to its treatment at lower temperatures during the malting process.
3. SOFT WATER
Soft water found in the Czech Republic, with extremely low levels of calcium and magnesium, is simply perfect for brewing a refreshing Světlý Ležák, the most popular beer variety in Czechia.
4. DECOCTION MASHING
Decoction mashing is Czech to the bone. It is a procedure where a portion of the mash is taken to another vessel, boiled separately and then brought back. At Staropramen, we repeat this procedure twice (double decoction). Decoction makes the beer body smooth and rich and adds a deep golden color. Originally, decoction method was invented to ensure brewing effectiveness during an age when no thermometers existed and malt was darker making the sugars harder to extract.
Decoction mashing perfectly sums up the Czech brewing tradition. Who in his right mind would regularly use a method that requires an additional vessel, extra time and more effort to brew a better beer? Only the beer-crazed Czechs, of course!