Czech brewer Budvar launches super strong beer

Photo: CTK

One of the Czech Republic’s biggest beer producers has just started distributing a new, incredibly strong brew. Indeed, Budějovický Budvar’s B:Cryo is around four times stronger than normal beers. However, some wonder if the drink, meant to be sipped rather than consumed in large quantities, is not just a marketing gimmick.

Photo: CTK
Budějovický Budvar’s new drink B:Cryo has an alcohol by volume level of 21 percent. While most Czech beers are 10, 11 or 12 degree, B:Cryo is a remarkable 40 degree. The new brew is served frozen, yet it can allegedly warm you up, just like a liquor. The producers say that it matures in cellars for 200 days before being poured into special bottles and shipped to restaurants, where it is subsequently frozen.

Petr Samec is the spokesman for the state-owned brewery:

“The beer is frozen at a temperature of -18 degrees Celsius for up to 48 hours. It is stored in a special bottle which doesn’t burst when frozen. The ice is not homogenous and it creates a porous structure with microscopic channels that contain a cryoconcentrate of beer, which is very strong.”

B:Cryo is served in 1.5 litre bottles with a special tap, from which consumers draw the liquid themselves. One bottle produces around 3.2 decilitres. However, Budvar recommends that people consume no more than 0.8 decilitres at a time.

As to how it came about, Petr Samec says the brewery had not actually planned to produce such an unusual beverage.

“It was basically a coincidence. Since we export our beers all over the world, we have to test what happens to the beer in different climactic conditions, such as in Canada or Norway. My colleague, who works in the lab, got the idea to taste the liquid that stays in the bottle after it freezes and discovered that the taste was very interesting.”

Due to its specific serving process, B.Cryo will only be available in restaurants. Altogether 60 across the Czech Republic are planning to serve the drink, which Budvar says is aimed mainly at connoisseurs.

Photo: CTK
But not everybody is enthusiastic about the venture. Evan Rail, the Prague-based author of Why Beer Matters and Good Beer Guide: Prague and the Czech Republic, says the super-strong brew is nothing more than a marketing gimmick.

“The only innovation is the way it is presented to the consumer. The beer itself is nothing new. Budvar seems to be about ten years behind the time in terms of its marketing and its understanding of the beer market.”

So do other breweries produce similar kind of beers?

“Many of them. This is a historic type of beer, made for many, many years, if not centuries. The most famous comes from Germany and it is called Eisbock. As far as I can tell the only innovation here is the in the presentation to the consumer. It’s a marketing innovation but the beer itself is an old hat.”