Czech beer culture may soon become UNESCO recognized

The Czech Beer and Malt Association has submitted Czech beer culture to UNESCO's list of Intangible Cultural Heritage.

Jason Pirodsky

Written by Jason Pirodsky Published on 02.04.2022 09:53:00 (updated on 07.04.2022) Reading time: 2 minutes

Beer is one of the Czech Republic's most famous exports, and it might soon become UNESCO-recognized. The Czech Beer and Malt Association has begun the process of submitting Czech beer culture to UNESCO's list of Intangible Cultural Heritage, its spokesperson František Šámal told reporters on Friday.

According to Šámal, the process may take about four years, meaning Czech beer culture could be added to UNESCO's list in 2026 if the campaign is successful.

The Association is coordinating efforts with the Czech Ministry of Culture. In its application, it refers to Czech beer as a symbol of national pride that increases tourism to the Czech Republic.

Czech beer culture wouldn't be the first to receive UNESCO recognition. Belgian beer culture was added to the list of cultural heritage in 2016.

The Czech Ministry of Culture currently recognizes thirty items in its List of Intangible Assets of Traditional Folk Culture of the Czech Republic. Seven of those items have also achieved status in the UNESCO list of Intangible Cultural Heritage.

The UNESCO-recognized items of Czech cultural heritage include the Slovácký verbuňk dance, masopust (carnival) masks and processions, Czech falconry traditions, Moravia's Ride of Kings festival, Czech puppetry, Czech blueprint folk patterns, and handmade glass bead decorations for Christmas trees.

According to Šámal, beer has a significant social but also economic impact for the Czech Republic, which is why the association believes that the UNESCO committee will approve the application. The local brewery industry employs an estimated 60,000 people, though beer production and consumption are both in decline.

Czech breweries produced 20.1 hectoliters of beer in 2020, down 6.9 percent over the previous year. Per capita beer consumption in the Czech Republic, while still the highest in the world, fell to around 135 liters per person last year, the lowest it has been since the 1960s.

While UNESCO is perhaps best known for its efforts in the preservation of monuments and other historic sites, the organization also seeks to preserve intangible aspects of cultures around the world including oral traditions, festive events, rituals, and knowledge and skills used in craft making.

"Intangible cultural heritage is an important factor in maintaining cultural diversity in the face of growing globalization," the organization states on its website.

"An understanding of the intangible cultural heritage of different communities helps with intercultural dialogue, and encourages mutual respect for other ways of life."

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