Brewing the Czech “liquid gold” starts in the malt house. Barley grains are soaked in order for budding to take place. This also releases alpha and beta –amylase that are to decompose complex starches into sugars in the course of brewing. The next stage is drying. Malt is dried at temperatures from 30 °C up until 100 °C – in the latter case being roasted to produce dark malt. Moravian grain is usually the malt of choice for Czech brewers because of Moravian fertile lands and hence its very high quality.
Mash is thereafter crushed in a grinder and grain is mixed with water in a mash mixing tun.
Mashing takes place in mashing tun and malt starches are transformed to sugars at 35 °C – 37 °C. Traditional Czech beer enjoys double mashing with the first mash being boiled at 63 °C – 72 °C and the second mash from 72 °C – 75 °C. Double mashing results in Czech beer being full bodied, featuring a typical dark golden colour. It is thus a major USP of Czech style lager.
The next step is straining where the solid part is separated from liquid part, the latter being called wort. This pleasantly sweet solution is effectively the basis of beer.
Finally we make it into brewing taking place in a brewing kettle. Bittering and Aroma hops are being mixed in wort in so called wort kettle or copper. Aroma hops will be poured into the copper towards the end of brewing session so the volatile essential oils they contain do not vaporize. Traditional Czech Pilsener beer will make use of unique SAAZ hops, grown in Saaz, Western Bohemia. They feature a very pleasant and balanced earthy, floral and herbal aroma.
Before the brew is sent off to a fermenting tank it is cooled and the spent hops and proteins from the cereal are extracted. After that, the magic starts. Yeast is added to start the transformation of sugars into alcohol and Co2. Czech real lager fermentation usually takes place in open vessels from 7 to 9 days or up to 14 days for special beers.
The longer the fermentation, the more alcohol is produced. However, with Czech beer, Fermentation goes to up to ¾ of sugar transformation so that yeast is not left for too long in the beer to negatively affect taste. A characteristic feature of Czech style pilsener beer is that they retain a pleasant full taste of the original malt extract. Which is exactly what most foreign lagers with higher alcohol content lack after complete fermentation.
The young Czech real lager is thereafter moved to lager cellar for maturation at temperatures close to zero. In this way, beer matures to full taste with a very pleasant pronounced body. Tap beers are left to mature for about 20 days whilst lagers typically mature up to 60 or sometimes even up to 90 days. Compare this to mass produced lagers that are conditioned for a fraction of that time.
The Real lager is than filled in barrels/kegs, cans or bottles and may sometimes be filtered in order to remove the remaining yeast.
To sum up the differences between traditional Czech beer /real lager/ and normal beer:
- It only uses natural ingredients of highest quality – water, malt and hops
- It typically makes use of Moravian Malt and SAAZ hops.
- It enjoys double mashing and double fermentationFermentation goes to up to a maximum ¾ of sugar transformation
- Maturation takes place much longer than normal lager – from 60 up to 90 days for premium lagers
- CO2 is generated naturally during fermentation and there is hence not any need to add it artificially into beer such as most brands do.
- 200 or more days brewing as opposed to 5 – 10 for a number of well known global brands