Czech beer producers protest use of artificial additives

Several Czech brewers, including the makers of Pilsner Urquell, are calling for tightening of the rules for using an industry quality control label named České Pivo (Czech Beer). The move comes in reaction to a recent consumer test of several Czech beers. It revealed that some brewers are using a chemically modified hops extract – a substance that purists say has no place in Czech beers, which are known around the world for their high quality.

Photo: archive of Radio Prague
A recent survey conducted by the Research Institute of Brewing and Malting for the newspaper Mladá fronta Dnes made for disquieting reading for many Czech beer lovers. It found that some Czech breweries such as Svijany and Staropramen use a chemical additive called Tetrahop to improve the stability of the beer’s head. Plzeňský Prazdroj – which makes the world famous Pilsner Urquell – and other major brewers argue that using any other substances apart from beer, malt and water is a breach of the traditional Pilsner-type Czech beer and brewing process. In a letter addressed to the Czech Beer and Malt Association they have called for stricter definition of the industry quality control label České Pivo. Václav Berka is a senior brewer at Plzeňský Prazdroj:

“This definition is too open and it is necessary to be stronger in the indication of what is České pivo. There should be only hops, malt and water in beer, which is exactly what we are using in producing Pilsner Urquell, Gambrinus, Kozel, Radegast and other beers. It is necessary to stop using additives like this chemically modified hop product. It is not created by natural brewing process. This is why we are against using this product and of course we are against the enzymes and chemically modified hop-products.”

The České pivo definition should be a clear indicator to consumers that the beer has been produced according to traditional recipes, says Václav Berka, adding these practices present a threat to the good reputation of Czech beer around the world as well as to the trust shown by local consumers. Along with five other brew-masters Berka has also announced a public appeal called “Žijeme českým pivem” or “We Love Czech Beer” addressed to those who care about the future of one of the Czech Republic’s best known products.

“I think that most Czech breweries only use malt, water and hops, just as we do. This is the reason why we launched this initiative. We love Czech beer and we want our fans and other brew-masters to join this initiative. It is very important for the future because we would like to sell the same beer that we received from our father and grandfathers.”

Beer fans as well as beer professionals can sign a petition against using chemical additives at