Plzen, West Bohemia, July 15 (CTK)- Eight barrel-makers from the Pilsner Urquell (Plzensky Prazdroj) brewery in Plzen are seeking the entry of their traditional craft into the UNESCO list of world cultural heritage, Petr Tuma, from the brewery, has told CTK.

They are the last who keep this famous craft alive.

They exchanged experience with their colleagues from France who were on a stint in the Plzen brewery until July 14.

The Czech barrel-makers have taken the first step on the path to the UNESCO-listing. The were registered in the regional list of cultural and historical heritage and now they are striving for entering the national list.

They can use valuable advice of their French colleagues from a barrel-making apprentice school, the oldest facility of this kind dating back to the Middle Ages, which has already entered UNESCO. The Plzen brewery will consult them on its steps.

Six barrel-making apprentices from France were on a stint in Plzen these days.

“They are making wine barrels in their homeland. Though the work principle remains the same, there are differences in the procedures. They use machines more than we, while our barrel-makers work manually,” Tuma said.

During the major boom of their profession at the beginning of the 20th century, the Plzen brewery employed some 150 barrel-makers.

“Pilsner Urquell preserves the tradition of this craft as the only brewery in the world,” Tuma said.

The barrel-makers are manufacturing small beer barrels of 17 to 25 litres. They also look after about 100 lager barrels and the same number of oak-tree vats for beer fermentation.

Along with their French colleagues, they were making 25-litre barrels for the 175th anniversary of the Plzen brewery.

“A beer barrel must resist a high pressure and it is much stronger than a wine barrel,” Josef Hruza, head of the Plzen barrel-makers, said.

They make 20 to 30 barrels a month, while the French from the vicinity of Dijon manufacture two trucks of barrels a day.

While wine barrels are only used three times, beer barrels are pitched after every batch and if the producers care for them well, they may last for up to 200 years.

A total of 12 Czech monuments have entered the UNESCO list of world heritage so far, including the centre of Prague, the last one in 2003.

Apart from real estate, some Czech phenomena have entered the UNESCO List of Intangible Cultural Heritage, such as verbunk, a folk dance from south Moravia, the Ride of the Kings annual folklore festival in south-east Moravia, the Shrovetide masks and traditions from the Hlinsko area, east Bohemia, and the Czech and Slovak puppetry.

The Czech Republic has also five items in the UNESCO’ Memory of the World Register.