WE’VE ONLY EVER MADE OUR BEER IN ONE PLACE IN THE WORLD – THE HISTORIC BREWING TOWN OF ČESKÉ BUDĚJOVICE, OR BUDWEIS.
THIS IS THE STORY OF WHO WE ARE AND WHERE WE COME FROM.
ČESKÉ BUDĚJOVICE IS PUT ON THE MAP
It’s 1265. Dynasties rising, falling and expanding; the royal houses of Europe battling for territory. And one beer-loving ruler, Ottokar II (Přemysl Otakar II) King of Bohemia, founds the town of České Budějovice – our hometown. Ottokar was a man who had his priorities right. The first privilege he bestowed on the town was the right to brew beer.
And to this day we still only ever brew Czechvar right here. Every single drop of it.
GOOD KING WENCESLAS
LOOKED OUT…FOR US
On 20 June 1410, another King of Bohemia, Wenceslas IV – sadly not the famous one from the Christmas carol – became worried about the integrity and quality of our beer. Bohemia boasted the perfect climate and fertile soils needed for making great tasting beer and so respected was the České Budějovice brewing industry that other brewers from other countries were muscling in.
Thankfully, King Wenceslas was a fan of excellence and he extended a law that meant no foreign malt houses, breweries or pubs could be located within a mile of České Budějovice and its surroundings.
By 1464, imposters and encroachers were everywhere. The quality of the brewing and the popularity of the beer from České Budějovice meant many people wanting to trade on the town’s reputation and natural resources flocked here. But the citizens had other ideas. They enforced their rights in an early show of quality over quantity, dismantling the malthouses, breweries and pubs that had sprung up in the mile radius of the town’s fortifications and surroundings.
1495 – 1895
Beer of the Gods
A large town brewery was founded in the fifteenth century that brewed ‘white’ (wheat) beer as opposed to the dark beers the citizens were free to brew themselves. What followed was a rapid rise in brewing consistency and reputation. České Budějovice became the most important brewing city of the Holy Roman Empire. So excellent was the beer that the Holy Roman Emperor himself, Ferdinand I, ordered our maltsters and brewers to brew beer for him personally.
In the following centuries, a second town brewery was opened. Soon the townsfolk petitioned for ownership of both breweries to pass to the citizens of the town. They became civic breweries, owned by the people. But these years also saw great upheaval. Czech lands were ravaged in the Thirty Years’ War, and the Kingdom of Bohemia became part of the Habsburg Monarchy.
THE CZECHVAR BREWERY IS BORN
In 1895, the Czech Republic was still part of Austria-Hungary. The Czech brewers weren’t happy brewing under a German-run and German-owned civic brewery. So, in an early example of crowd-funding and national pride, the Czech brewers sourced the money to merge together and form a Czech brewery, owned by Czech people. The Czech Joint-Stock Brewery was founded and began brewing beer with quality Czech ingredients and new technology on the same spot we still do today.
Word of our expertly brewed beer of the Czech Republic was spreading far and wide. Rich, deep, flavourful; sweet but with a crisp bitterness and floral hop aroma, our beer was in serious demand. Our brewery quickly established itself outside the Czech borders, grabbing attention across Europe. And as early as 1896, our beer was bringing home honours and awards from prestigious food and drink shows.
OUR BREWERY GETS OCCUPIED
During World War II, Czechoslovakia is occupied by the Nazis. Although our national spirit, resistance and sense of Czechness is never broken, a Nazi-party administrator is allocated to run our brewery. We had been exporting huge amounts of our beer across the world up to this point. But in 1942 all export of our beer is wiped out overnight. It would be a long time before we reached the pre-war export levels again.
1959 – 1966
THE SIXTIES AND STYLE
The Sixties saw our brewery scooping more international awards for quality, taste and our strict sticking to traditional brewing methods. But that’s not to say we were immune to the style revolution sweeping the world. Our classic, handcrafted design motifs came out of this vintage period for design.
A NATIONAL CORPORATION, IS BORN
In 1967, we became a national corporation. As successor to the original Czech Joint-Stock Brewery and the Civic Brewery in České Budějovice, we took over their trademarks too, and made a promise to carry on the long and proud heritage of the town: brewing the highest quality Bohemian pilsner in the world.
ONE CZECH BEER.
10.5 MILLION OWNERS.
In 1991, following the Velvet Revolution and the end of communist rule in Czechoslovakia, our brewery became independent. Although there were attempts to buy stakes and take ownership from investors and multinational brewing companies, we resisted. And we’re proud to still be independent and completely owned by the Czech people today. That means we have 10.5 million owners, and they really know their beer. Globally, the 1990s saw huge change in brewing production methods and the beginning of a decline in using more traditional ingredients like whole-cone hops.
But not Czechvar. Our independence ensured our beer remained brewed according to German ‘Reinheitsgebot’ or purity laws, meaning only malted barley, hops, yeast, and water could be used. Even so, we still managed to double our production in a decade without any compromise on ingredients, quality or taste.
BRINGING THE BEST BOHEMIAN BEER TO THE WORLD (AGAIN)
In 1996 we were able to export over a hundred million litres of our beer around the world. It had taken us half a century to restore what the war took away, but we managed it. That’s Czech spirit for you.
WE KNOW WHERE
WE’RE FROM, DO EU?
In 2004, the European Commission awarded our beer ‘Protected Geographical Indication’ status, recognising that we only brew with the finest Czech ingredients: whole-cone Saaz hops from Žatec; malting barley from the Hana region of Moravia, a 125-year-old heritage brewer’s yeast and pure artesian water from an Ice Age aquifer 300m underneath the brewery. We’ve always known where our beer comes from; now everyone who drinks it knows too.
OPENING UP OUR HOME
In 2005, our historic brewery opened up its new visitor centre, including a walkthrough of the history of brewing in České Budějovice and tours of our hallowed brewery cellars where all Czechvar is still cold-conditioned for around 90 days, longer than any other brewery of our size in the world. Being here, immersing yourself in our Czech beer culture, and tasting our unfiltered and unpasteurised beer straight from the maturation tanks is described as a near-religious experience for beer lovers. We’d love you to come and see for yourself. But dress warm. Our vast cellars are kept at a steady 2 degrees centigrade, so it can get a little cold.
WHO KNOWS WHERE
THE TIME GOES?
More than any other brewery, we understand that the best things take time. It’s well known that our beer matures and conditions for around 90 days, but actually the journey of its creation has taken far longer. In 2015, we celebrated the brewery’s 120th anniversary. It gave us a good chance to really reflect on our history and how far we’ve come.
CZECHVAR EXPORTS THE MOST BEER IN ITS HISTORY
Between 2017 and 2018, we broke new records. A rising demand for craft lager has seen a rediscovery of the beers that were the originators and the pioneers. Brands like Budějovický Budvar. We’ve always understood that sometimes revolution means staying the same in a changing world. And without altering a single thing about our unique taste, where we source our ingredients and how our beer is made and matured, we managed to deliver record beer volumes across the world – close to a million hectolitres of beer to 76 countries. All of it from right here, where it all began, in České Budějovice.