Importer Merchant du Vin will begin distributing a Czech beer with decidedly Old World links in June.
Zatecky Pivovar, which brews Zatec beer, claims a heritage that goes back to paying brewing taxes in 1004. The town of Zatec is located in the The Zatec region, famous as the home of aromatic Zatec hops, better known by their German name of Saaz.
While brewing originally was conducted to supply beer for the castle on the site the brewery now occupies, the present complex was built in 1801. Many of the brewing vessels date from the later part of the 19th century.
British beer writer Roger Protz visited the brewery in 2002 and described brewing conducted in a most traditional manner, starting with a double decoction mash and continuing through lengthy lagering. He wrote:
“The lager cellars at Zatec are 80 feet below ground. There are 120 tanks, of which 68 are currently employed. They were installed in 1863: prior to that, the lagering tanks were made of wood. The tanks are ranged horizontally: there is a firm belief in the Czech Republic that lagering or cold conditioning is slower in horizontal tanks than in upright conical vessels. As a result, some malt sugars remain in the beer, creating a fuller and more complex palate.”
Zatec brews beers that are 10, 11 and 12 degrees, using the Czech Balling rating. The brewery will ship the 11 degree beer, 4.6% abv, to the United States.