Homebrewing in the Czech Republic

All you need to know to brew your own beer at home

Aaron Johns

Written by Aaron Johns Published on 20.03.2013 09:33:49 (updated on 20.03.2013) Reading time: 4 minutes

Thousands of years before there were big, computerized breweries with huge kettles and electric cooling and heating systems, ancient civilizations were making their own homebrews in clay pots with just a few key ingredients. Let this give you the confidence to brew your own beer at home.

It can be done with a relatively small amount of equipment, much of which can be found in your kitchen. Along with a few simple ingredients; water, malted barley or malted wheat, and hops. Yeast is also an essential part of brewing beer, though not everyone considers yeast one of beer’s ingredients, but that’s an argument for another day.

Brewing can be as simple or complex as you are willing to make it, so whether you are an experienced home brewer or are just getting started, there is a recipe and level of complexity that will fit your needs. Let’s take a look at where to find brewing information, how homebrewing in the Czech Republic is growing, and the equipment and ingredients you will need to get your own home brewery up and running.

Educate yourself

There are many books, websites, blogs and forums to help you get started. It is always best to gain some knowledge before you put together your own home brewery. Other homebrewers and enthusiasts are maybe the best resource available, so get involved and talk to as many people as possible. Homebrewers are normally a friendly bunch, so don’t be afraid to ask questions. Here are a few resources to get you going:

  • Dave Miller’s Homebrewing Guide
  • The Complete Joy of Homebrewing by Charles Papazian
  • How to Brew: Everything You Need to Know to Brew Beer Right the First Time by John J. Palmer. Read it in full at www.howtobrew.com
  • The Mad Fermentationist has a great article on 11 Mistakes Every New Homebrewer Makes, plus so much more.

For a local source for education, training and brewing information check out the Research Institute of Brewing and Malting.

A growing trend

Small home breweries and the people who run them are becoming easier to find. Start talking to people at local beer festivals, bottle shops, and in your favorite pub; you are sure to find someone who is working on crafting their own beer.

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I spoke with Evan Rail, Prague based beer writer, avid homebrewer, and panel judge at the 2012 Prague International Homebrew Awards (PIHA) to get his take on what is happing in the homebrewing scene. “Czech homebrewing seems to be taking off quite quickly. The surprising thing is the local interest in foreign beer styles, especially American and UK types of beer like pale ales and IPAs.” said Rail.

PIHA takes place in early December and is much more than just a competition. There are lectures and seminars given by people in the brewing industry along with local homebrewers; it’s also a great place to make new connections. So put together your best recipe and enter the 2013 PIHA.

For additional information about PIHA plus much, much more visit Svět Piva, though mostly in Czech, there are several articles published in English.

Equipment and Ingredient

Mr. Rail went on to say, “For local homebrewers, the hard part is finding quality ingredients. Czech malt is great, of course, but there’s not a lot of variety in terms of yeast strains and hops, and the foreign specialty malts that you need for some beer styles can be really hard to get. Most homebrewers I know order stuff from the Czech online shops, which are decent but limited. Unfortunately, we don’t have a dedicated homebrew shop in Prague that I know of. But Pivní Rozmanitost now stocks some yeasts, malts, and hops for homebrewers, in addition to their specialty beers.”

This is a great excuse to go check out Pivní Rozmanitost at their new location. You will find them at Korunní 106 in Prague 10, above HooDoo music club. If you are not able to find what you need at Pivní Rozmanitost, check online. Here are just a few websites that carry brewing equipment and ingredients:

Now it’s time to make some decision. Do you want to start simple and inexpensive or are you looking to set up a permanent home brewery? Will you brew with extracts or use all-grain brewing?

Homebrewing in the Czech Republic

For the beginner, there are brewing kits available for a very reasonable price. If you are a little more serious about your brewing endeavor and wish to put together your own set, you can purchase items separately. A stainless steel pot for brewing that is at least five gallons (about 19 litters) in size should be first on your list. You will also need a fermenter; this can be a glass bottle known as a carboy (a food grade plastic bucket will also do). Your fermenter should also hold at least five gallons.

In addition, there is a hand-full of smaller items that you will need to get started. Such as: a funnel, strainer, plastic tubing, thermometer and more. John Palmer has put together a good “basics” list on his How to Brew website.

Now it’s time to clean and sanitize your equipment, this is arguably the most important step in the brewing process, so take your time and familiarize yourself with whatever method you choose.

Feel free to post your brewing tips and tricks. We would also love to hear about what styles you are making and how they turn out.

Happy brewing!

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