What is the real story on Czech Beer?

Discussion in 'Travel Tips & Advice' started by Viktor, Jun 24, 2005.

  1. Viktor

    Viktor Well-Known Member

    I've noticed that there are "several" grades of beer served in CZ. The beer is sold and priced according to a "percentage", like 10, 11, 12, 14, and 16%, and the prices escalete accordingly.

    However, to my surprize after reading the label on a Pilsner Urquell bottle, what was sold as a 12% beer, the label was marked as 4.9% by volume.

    Hence, what are the designations : 10, 11, 12 &14 ( I was under the immpression it was % per volume)? Is it merely a "marketing/pricing" of beer grade. I definetly can tell the taste difference -- 12% is much better
    ( sweeter w/body) than 10%...

  2. Jana

    Jana Well-Known Member

    Beer is measured with degrees, according to the method devised by Professor Balling in the 17th century. The degree sign caused some confusion for consumers in the past, as international norms used it to signify the temperature of brewing and other things. So it was changed to a percentage sign, which causes confusion among consumers today. Many think that the percent is the amount of alcohol, but it's actually the amount of malt extract used in the brewing process. The percentage of alcohol is about a quarter of the "percent" shown on the bottle, so 12% beer is roughly 3.1% alcohol, though it's often higher. Czech beer comes in degrees from 6-19%, but 10% and 12% are the most common. The highest degree is Pernstein from Pardubice.
  3. iluvuma1

    iluvuma1 Well-Known Member

    I was having this discussion with my husband. He insists that Czech beer (Urquell- specifically) has 12% alcohol. I told him there was no way that we could sell beer in the states with that much alcohol in it. I wonder if they sell a different variety here... (Says something on the bottle about it being made in Washington DC.)
  4. Viktor

    Viktor Well-Known Member


    The Pilsner Urquell beer purcgased in the US is merely "imported" by the firm listed on the bottle and their corporate opffices addreess is in located Washington DC (Imported by Pilsner Urquell USA Inc). The 12% is a carryover from the old country, and most tourist are made belive it is actualy 12% by volume beer --see Jana's post, she expalined the facts quite clearly -- The Pilsner beer imported to the US, is hence 10% by the Czech standards, but merely 3.2% by volume...Smart marketing for $15.00 for a 12 pack (Budwiser is only $6.00 for 2 six packs)!

    However, you are correct about 12% alcohol content not beig allowerd in a beer in the US (besides. the fermentation of anything never yields more than 6% alcohol per volume anyway -- to go above it must be then destilled). In the US there are only two allowed classifications of beer. The "no more than 3.2%", which used to be the "under 21" beer, many years ago, that originated in the US Military for soldiers between 18-21, only sold on military bases, so the soldiers could have a beer.. Then in the 60's some states allowed 18 year old bars that served only 3.2% beer to these youngsters. Today, the 3.2% beer is maketed as "light beer".

    The second cathegory of beer in the US is "no more than 6%" beer (regular beer) and this covers all beer between 3.2% to 6.0%, however, most beers sold in the US are in the of 3.4% - 4.4% range. Never the less, it is maketed as 6% beer and most people belive it! Hence, thee in no real (alcohol contenet) difference between Czech and American beer, But the Czech beer just "tastes better", due to their natural brewing process.

    Hence, if your husband does not beleive this, ask him to drink 8 American beers in one sitting (in about the time it takes to drink two 1/2Ltr's of Czech 12% beer) and see if he can "walk way" as sober as he did from the 2 Czech 12% beers.

  5. Ir

    Ir Well-Known Member

    Generally desitka (10 degree beer) has about 3.5% ABV while dvanactka (12 degree beer) has about 4.5-5% ABV. ABV is Alcohol-content By Volume. The Balling degree system, as Jana pointed out, refers to the amount of malt in the mash. As the length of fermentation etc can be variable, it is impossible to say x degree beer will contain exactly y amount of alcohol by volume.

    According to EU law alcoholic beverages must show ABV on the label.
  6. Ir

    Ir Well-Known Member

    12% is the average alcohol content (ABV) for wine. It is possible to have beer this strong. There are many Belgian beers at this strength, and I would be surprised if you could not buy them in the USA (google 'Belgian beer 12% ABV' if you want to see some examples). Some fortified wines are about 16% ABV. Neither beer nor wine are distilled.
  7. Jana

    Jana Well-Known Member

    It is not only the brewing process that makes Czech beer different (I am patriotic enough to say better :) ), but also the hop of domestic production; and quite often, as e.g. in case of Pilsner Urquell, it is also the local source of water that gives the beer its unique taste.
  8. Viktor

    Viktor Well-Known Member

    I agree, Czech beer is world famous for being the best! Sorry I forgot to mention the water & hops ( the best tap water all over the Republic, I've tasted in a long time if ever), but that certainly includes the "natural" proceess, that can not be duplicated elsewhere.. High alcohol content does not make it better (not even in vine), but merely gets you drunk faster (by dinking less)...Taste is what makes the beer sooo gooood!

    Czech beer has a unique taste, that not even the Germans were able to duplicate and that is why they are trying to claim, thta {Pilsen is in Germany(ask any American, and he/she will agrue with you that Pilse is indeed in Germany)!.. Czechs have the distinction of the "most" beer consumtion per capita in the world. But oddly enough, I've never encountered a "drunk in public" Czech during my travels. They just seem to sip & sip all day long. One for breakfast, one or two for break, two lunch and a few after work. One or two beers and then take a break. giving the body time to absorb it, whereas the Germans just drink, drink (and sing) until they fall down..

    You may visit the town of Policka (about 25Km south of Litomysl) and witness the diference of cultures right there, where the Czechs have to carry their German friends home...

    By the way, when Pilsner was first imported to the US, they did have 12 degrees, (some people -- including me --did read it as percentage) on the label-- but local brewers complained, claiming false advertizing -- so now the label does not mention the alcohol content, only that it is brewed in the Czech Republic..

  9. Sova

    Sova Well-Known Member

    They are there, believe me. Once I saw a guy so plastered on a tram that when it took a sharp turn at an intersection, he tumbled off his seat and did a face-plant. Another time, a guy was weaving six feet to either side of the sidewalk, falling periodically. My friend and I tried to help him home, but he just grunted and waved us off (too tanked to even speak, I guess). Just two of many examples. Maybe it's just a matter of where you go. I never saw anyone so drunk in any of the tourist sectors.
  10. Viktor

    Viktor Well-Known Member


    Perhaps that is true -- there are vinos all over the globe -- but in comparing the hords of vinos/drunks one finds all over the place in most major US cities, Prague, for it's size, not too many are visible on the streets. Are you sure the one you encountered was a Czech? Most probably he could of been a Brit or American. Those I've seen quite a few!

  11. Ir

    Ir Well-Known Member

    I would guess that there are very few Czech drunks in the centre of Prague because very few Czech people can afford to drink in the centre of Prague! Or you could say they have more sense than to drink in the city centre. :)

    If you are desperate to see some Czech drunks you could try the tram stop outside Narodni Trida metro station. There are usually a few to be found there.

    But in general there is very little aggro to be found in Prague. They're not drunk, but the only annoyance I had was from people in Wenceslas Square at night. It's to be avoided I think, or be very careful if you are there at night.

    Sometimes I caught a tram in Prague very late at night, and when you got on the tram everybody in the seats had their heads hanging down like they'd had too much to drink! :)
  12. Sova

    Sova Well-Known Member

    Depends on what streets in what city. In general, however, I don't really have any idea how the USA and Czech Republics compare on this point.
    Yes, I'm sure the man was Czech. After one has lived in the CR for a few months, it becomes all too obvious who the Americans are. By the way, this was only one example of many (and yes, I'm sure the others were Czech, also).
    I'd say you're right on that one. I can't recall seeing any drunk Czechs in Prague city center. The ones I remember seeing were traipsing around in other parts of Prague, away from the tourist centers, or in other cities, altogether.

Share This Page