The Dolní Břežany Brewery

The history of the Dolní Břežany brewery
… live water conveyed from a spring …

Each large or small farm estate had to have its own economic facilities, usually including a yard, sheep pens, a water mill, and also its own brewery. The necessary consumption of manorial beer by subjects brought the estate owners substantial profit, and the proceeds from the sale of beer were often the most profitable business activity. And so it was in 1783 at the Dolní Břežany farm estate as well. But let’s return to the oldest written sources in which the existence of the brewery in Břežany is mentioned. A description of a fortress from 1580 also contains a reference to a brewery and a malt house where a hop drink was brewed at least once a week. At that time beer was still produced from wheat malt. The original brewery was most probably located directly in the courtyard of the fortress (or chateau), and by the start of the 19th century at the latest an independent brewery building was constructed opposite the manorial vegetable garden which in 1850 included a forestry keeper’s apartment (no. 11), a loosely connected burgrave’s residence (no. 12), a still-house (no. 56) and a building for the production of potash.

The quality of the beer was always influenced by the water used and therefore it was conveyed at the end of the 16th century from a “live spring” with the aid of oak pipes to the malt house and the brewery: “…water is taken from the spring to a well made of forest oak in the fortress courtyard, and from the well the water is taken to the malt house and brewery“.

In the 19th and 20th centuries the source of the exceptional drinking water was the Klizerda spring. The manor also grew hops itself, and the first hop field was established by Anna Voděradská of Hrušov in 1580. More hops were grown than could be used by the brewery and so it was also able to sell them. Old maps from the start of the 19th century indicate that the hops were grown at that time on land around a brick kiln on the way to Ohrobec. Wood for fuel was also an important commodity – for the actual brewing of the beverage, but also for drying the malt. Wood was procured from the local manorial forests.

Brewing in Břežany, however, did not always flourish. The brewery building was damaged during the Thirty Years War, as its then manager complained in the estate’s accounts: “The brewery, like everything, was ruined by the soldiers stationed there who left it in a mess, and was only returned to its previous state thanks to the dedication of many carpenters, coopers, blacksmiths and bricklayers who put in a great deal of extremely hard work.”

Probably the most recent description of the brewery prior to its demolition in the 1960s comes from the infamous period of nationalisation in 1948. Beer was not brewed in it at that time, and the state of the one-storey six-room stone building was classified as very poor. The former brew house was used as a storehouse, and the ground floor area was made into stables with arched vaulting, a forage warehouse, a granary and two cellars.

The author of the history of the Dolní Břežany
brewery is Veronika Kucrová.

The present brewery
… we brew beer that has a strong flavour …

Since June 2015 we have started to write the modern history of brewing in Dolní Břežany – we have built a modern brewery in the close vicinity of the HiLASE scientific research laser centre which will produce traditional Czech-style beers, which include the unique Dolnobřežanská 10° and Laser beer – a classic Czech lager so sharp as to do honour to its name.

In addition to these Czech classics we also brew a range of top-fermented specials – semi-dark York, Gari wheat beer, Theodor black stout and aromatic India Pale Ale.

 

Pavel Kortus
brewer

A love for beer in the genes

Pavel Kortous was born in December 1952 in Písek. He comes from a brewing family – his grandfather František and great uncle Alois worked during the First Czechoslovak Republic at the Protivín brewery (as the manorial coachman Alois also drove Prince Adolf Schwarzenberg), and his father was a trained maltster and also worked at the Protivín brewery.

Professional career

After completing grammar school in Písek (1972) he studied at the Foodstuffs Technology Industry High School in Prague. He first worked in the spirit of the family tradition as a maltster at the Protivín brewery (1973-1978), and then from 1978-1981 as a sub-brewer at what is these days the defunct brewery in Kolín. In 1981 he relocated to Prague where he was first briefly a maltster at the Braník brewery, and then he was a production engineer at PVS Braník until 1989. In 1989-1993 he worked as a brewer at the Březnice brewer and over the following years (1993-1996) he helped bring the Kácov brewery on line and where he was then also the brewer. In 1996, he was a consultant to the Svatý Júr brewery and undertook technological collaboration associated with putting the brewery into operation. In the following years (1997-2002) he worked as a younger brewer at the Nymburk brewing and from 2002 to date he has been the brewer for the Lobkowicz brewery in Vysoký Chlumec.