Czech beer of the year named

Annual competition comes ahead of the feast of St Wenceslas, patron of beer

The 16th annual competition for the best Czech beer has named its winners. Coming in on top was Radegast Genuinely Bitter 12° (Ryze hořká 12°), followed by Litovel Premium in second and Staropramen Lager (Ležák) in third.

The competition, held in the National House in Vinohrady, evaluated 58 beers in five categories. This was 20 percent fewer than last year. The contest is for the annual St Wenceslas celebration of Czech beer.

All three winners had 5 percent alcohol. Radegast Genuinely Bitter 12° is a pale thrice-hopped lager brewed from three types of Moravian hops: Žatec semi-early red hop, the Sládek hop and the Czech variety Saaz Late, according to the brewer's website. Litovel Premium is known for its “richness and luxurious bitterness,” while Staropramen Ležák is brewed from two kinds of malt and five kinds of hops.

The winner in the light tap beer category was Litovel Moravan, with 4.6 percent alcohol. It was followed by Zubr Gold, also with 4.6 percent alcohol and Zubr Classic, with 4.1 percent alcohol.

In the 11° category the winner was Zubr Grand, followed by Braník 11 and Bernard yeast beer. Degrees refer to the amount of malt sugar during production, and not the alcohol content directly, though higher degree beers have more alcohol.

In dark beer the winner was Litovel Dark, at 10° with 3.8 percent alcohol, which won along with Bernard Černý ležák (black lager), a 12° with 5.1 percent alcohol. They were followed by Černovar Černé (black), a Munich Dunkel-style lager with 4.5 percent alcohol, and Postřižinské Tmavé (dark), an 11° with 4.1 percent alcohol.

The best non-alcoholic beer was Birell Světlý, followed by Birell Polotmavý and Bakalář cold-hopped non-alcoholic beer.

New members were also inducted into the brewing hall of fame: Pavel Průcha of Plzeňský Prazdroj and Jiří Špringl of Chmel Polepská blata. Průcha worked at Plzeňský Prazdroj since 1970 and had been the chief brewer. Špringl is an expert in the cultivation of hops. The František Ondřej Poupě Prize, named for an influential 18th century brewer in Brno, went to Litovel chairman and emeritus brewer Miroslav Koutek.

On Facebook, Litovel said it had “absolute and indescribable joy” over the two gold and one silver medals and achievement prize it had won.

Zubr brewery director Tomáš Pluháček said the three medals his beer earned showed that hard work, traditional brewing and good ingredients had put his brewery on the road to success.

The contest is organized by the Czech Beer and Malt Association (ČSPS) and is overseen by the Research Institute of Brewing and Malting (VÚPS). The tasting committee is made up of brewers, educators and professionals, and members of the Hop Research Institute and the State Agricultural and Food Inspection Authority. Entry is open to breweries with an output of 5,000 hectoliters or more per year.

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