Neither the crisis nor higher beer prices have influenced beer production in the Czech Republic. It has been rather the other way around. So it is no wonder that new breweries are being built. As early as February, two new small breweries will launch operation – Tambor in Dvůr Králové and Městský podorlický pivovar in Rychnov nad Kněžnou.
A new regional brewery from the developer Ross Holding will start producing in Chotěboř in April. The world giant Heineken plans to increase output in its Czech brewery Královský pivovar Krušovice in the years to come.
The Rychnov facility and Tambor will be the 79th and 80th small brewery in the country. The investors and Dvůr Králové entrepreneur Nasik Kiriakovský would like to launch production of several Tambor beer makes on 28 February – exactly 30 years after beer production ended in Dvůr Králové. Tambor will be the only beer maker in the town, but there are a few competitors in the area, such as the breweries in Náchod, Trutnov, and Nová Paka.
The project started in 2007 with obtaining a water source from a 130-metre-deep drill hole. Now virtually everything is complete. “In the beginning we will brew around a thousand hectolitres a year,” Kiriakovský said. He said he would disclose more details – like the size of the investment – on the day of the production launch.
The Rychnov brewery is majority controlled by the local soft drinks maker Podorlická sodovkárna. A thousand hectolitres of beer called Rychnovský Zilvar, Klášter, Kněžna, or Habrovák will be brewed every year in the former brewery that Jan Mikš, grandson of the original brewery owners and the standing owner of Podorlická sodovkárna, acquired within property restitution.
But the boom of small breweries in the Czech Republic will not stop here. Václav Potěšil of Pivo Praha, a company involved in small brewery construction, among others, said there were plans to build at least ten more facilities in the next two years. Still in the early 1990s, Prague’s U Fleků was the only small brewery in the country.
“Many years ago we said that these small breweries have a chance mainly in localities with many tourists. Beers brewed on a local basis are among the more expensive ones in our country,” said Jan Veselý, executive director at the Czech Beer and Malt Association. “But it is becoming apparent that also domestic consumers still do have money and are willing to spend it on various local beer specialities,” he added.
Small breweries give more variety to the beer market that is controlled by the often unified brands of large beer concerns. But the share of all small breweries in total Czech beer production is negligible – less than 100,000 hectolitres in comparison with almost 20 million hectolitres.
The overall domestic beer consumption continues stagnating and the largest industrial breweries led by Plzeňský Prazdroj have been growing mainly thanks to exports in recent years.
Investment in Chotěboř
More visible competition for Czech beer makers should come in April from a brewery whose construction was launched last year by Ross Holding in cooperation with experienced brewmasters in Chotěboř.
Annual output should reach 25,000 hectolitres in what would be the 49th industrial brewery in the country and the first green-field brewery since beer production in Nošovice was launched still under the communist regime.
Building a new brewery makes sense even at a time where multinational groups are closing smaller Czech facilities after having acquired them, Ross Holding director Roman Stryk said.”There is a room for another industrial brewery all the more so we will compete with the big ones by means of a traditional old-Czech technology,” Stryk said.
The standing investor bought the project for the construction of an industrial brewery and the company Pivotech established for the purpose from Ian Jeffery of Great Britain last year. This big supporter of Czech beer operates a sales network in England, but has given up the dream of own beer production in the Czech Republic owing to a serious illness.
Large breweries are going to extend beer production as well. One of them is the Dutch company Heineken in Czech brewery Královský pivovar Krušovice that has not reached its full capacity yet. Heineken wants to increase production largely thanks to a massive growth in exports to Russia. “Thanks to considerable investments in the past, the brewery is fortunately able to fully cover the present demands in terms of capacity,” said Kateřina Eliášová, spokeswoman for Heineken’s Czech representation.
Besides large companies, small breweries are seeking foreign market penetration as well. On Monday, Pivovar Černá Hora signed a contract with a Chinese partner and dispatched the first two containers of beer worth about CZK 0.5 million to Asia.
The number of industrial breweries in the country has decreased from 176 in 1950 to the present 48, while average production per brewery has increased sharply in the said period – from 53,000 hectolitres to more than 400,000 hectolitres.