As the national brewery of the Czech Republic, Budweiser Budvar has been crafting award-winning lager for its people for over a century. In fact, its home city of České Budějovice, holds brewing traditions which stretch back to 1265. All-too-forgotten from that lengthy roll of history, however, is the reality that brewing was once a skilled labor conducted largely by women—both in homes and in small breweries dotting the Bohemian landscape. A new campaign launched by the brand wants to remind drinkers that “Great Beer [Is] For Everyone.”
Earlier this summer, Budvar commissioned the production of a short which follows three talented women from different sectors of the beer industry in Czechia. Its stars include Magda Hoppová, a brewer and celebrated beertender (výčepní) from Prague; Jitka Ilčíková Joith, founder of Wild Creatures brewery in Moravia, who is re-popularizing the forgotten technique of spontaneously fermented wild ales; and Johana Potužníková, who heads up craft partnerships for Budvar.
Although the industry continues to be male-dominated, the film illustrates how trends are shifting—both in the Czech Republic, and beyond. In the United Kingdom, for example, a recent report found that 32% of women drink beer at home with friends, up from just 3% 14 years ago. And an overwhelming majority of them are basing their purchasing habits on where, precisely, the beer is brewed. Which bodes well for Czechia, a region of Europe long-regarded as the “Republic of Beer.”
Indeed, a visit to the famed Budvar cellars in České Budějovice is high on the bucket list of many a beer geek. And a tour therein these days, reveals rather balanced representation between men and women. The hour-long pilgrimage through its icy-cold caves is as popular as ever, because word has slowly spilled out as to what’s going on down here.
If you’re not yet familiar, let us fill you in: Massive vaults of unpasteurized lager—some of which has been left to age for multiple months—are poured directly from the tank into frosty tasting glasses. It’s as fresh and flavorful as suds are going to get. The experience highlights the remarkable precision with which this particular style of beer is executed. It’s a category of beer which has been brewed in largely the same way for the better part of a millennium. You’re allowed to drink a small sample of that history in exchange for a $7 price of admission.
Tours are offered from 9am to 5pm, 7 days a week. Budweiser Budvar (certainly not to be confused with the one out of St. Louis, Missouri) is located on the outskirts of České Budějovice. It’s about a two hour train ride south of Prague. Mugs are provided on-site. And if you’re lucky enough to be in town when Magda Hoppová is around, she’ll surely teach you how to pour the perfect Šnyt.