We invest in research and innovative solutions in the brewing industry
Growers must face new challenges, especially those due to climate changes. One of the consequences is insufficient precipitation, and at the same time moisture in the soil, which is reflected in fluctuating harvests of brewing raw materials in the past few years.
It is in our own mutual interest to find the best solution, which is why we help in this area as well.
Last year we supported the research done by the Research Institute of Brewing and Malting. The work was related to new varieties of Czech hops and barley and also the brewing qualities of the substances which are present in these crops. The total amount of our contribution was almost CZK 2M.
Innovative solutions are key for sustainable growing of raw materials. Therefore, the Asahi group which Plzeňský Prazdroj is a part of, joined the Lead2030 challenge to support global goal number 13 of sustainable development. It focused its grant challenge on seeking innovative solutions, not only in the area of sustainable growing of raw materials, but also in the area of reducing CO2 emissions across the supply chain.
In 2019 we purchased 69,654 kilograms of hops for beer production in the Czech Republic and Slovakia.
Only the best varieties of hops belong into Czech Beer, such as Saaz, Sladek and Saaz Late from Žatec. Because Plzeňský Prazdroj also produces beer specials, flavoured beers and other beverages for the production of which certain foreign hop varieties are more suitable, we purchase hops partly abroad, mostly in German and in the USA.
Plzeňský Prazdroj breweries have long-term contracts with Czech hop growers. This cooperation is not limited to business only. We discuss drought-related problems with hop growers and we also discuss ways of grading up new varieties so that we can maintain the excellent quality in the future.
In 2019, we consumed 3 litres of water to produce one litre of beer.
We use around half of the water to ensure high hygiene standards, especially to clean and rinse packaging, and for other hygiene- and health-related activities.
Water as a brewing ingredient, brewing water, is taken from the highest quality sources.
Plzeňský Prazdroj not only monitors the water use in its breweries. It also encourages growers and suppliers to carefully manage water resources, be it in hop fields or Radegastovna concept bars.
The Lead2030 initiative involves big organizations across the world in looking for ways to achieve UN goals in the area of sustainable development. The Asahi company, a part of which is Plzeňský Prazdroj, also got involved and, apart from other matters, focused on sustainable growing of raw materials.
The Asahi Group called a USD 50 thousand grant challenge which also includes mentoring by its professionals who deal with sustainable agriculture. This grant challenge is directed at young innovators and start-ups focusing on solutions related to the questions of sustainable agriculture in a time of climate change.
“Czech Beer” requires special varieties of barley.
Plzeňský Prazdroj is the second largest buyer of barley in the Czech Republic and the largest buyer of the varieties certified for products with the protected geographical indication “Czech Beer”. When purchasing it, we prefer domestic varieties which enable a lower level of fermentation – this is what lends Czech beer its fullness.
For beer to have the right taste and colour, it needs to be made from the right raw materials, the basic one being barley. Plzeňský Prazdroj buys several varieties. The one bought in the largest volumes is the malting variety Bojos which is the most commonly grown one in the Czech Republic. The second most preferred variety (and the second most commonly grown in the Czech Republic) is Malz. Plzeňský Prazdroj also buys smaller amounts of Overture for the production of standard beer. This variety is characteristic for its very high extraction rate and a high level of fermentation.
Plzeňský Prazdroj cooperates with farmers and exchanges experience with them. For example, in June 2019, together with cultivators and representatives from the Research Institute of Brewing and Malting, it was present at the so-called “Malting Field Day” organized by the owners’ cooperative Agros Vraný, one of the growers of the varieties certified to be used for the production of “Czech Beer”.
An autumn seminar prepared for farmers in Pilsen and Nošovice by Plzeňský Prazdroj also focused on current problems in agriculture and growing spring barley.
Growing barley has a long tradition in the Czech Republic and the demand is ever increasing. Thanks to this, farmers try to cultivate new varieties which will be more lucrative and more resistant towards the changing climate.
Something special every month
At Plzeňský Prazdroj, we are not afraid of experimenting with hops and combine varieties from various parts of the world. Plzeňský Prazdroj brew masters prepared the unique programme “Volba Sládků” through which they gradually present trends and novelties of the brewing industry.
Our consumers can taste special batches in selected pubs every month. Thus they have the chance to taste up to 12 unique draft beers throughout the year.
When brewing these, the brew masters also use, for example, the American hops Citra or El Dorado but they also present new Czech varieties of hops such as Boomerang or Country.
We are dealing with drought together with the hop growers
“Czech Beer” is brewed from three basic raw materials: high quality water, Czech barley malt and quality hops. The last ingredient is supplied in the form of granules which are gained by crushing hop cones immediately after harvest and without air supply. This way, hops keep their intensive bitterness and unique aroma which form the basic characteristics of good beer.
Just like any other plant, hops also need enough moisture to grow properly. Farmers have calculated that to grow 1 kilo of this green matter, hops need 500 litres of water. In case there is not enough water available, hops contain too little alfa-bitter substances which, results in the need to dose more of it in the wort.
The last few dry years and the prospects of more of these are causing worries for both hop growers and beer brewers. Therefore, we got together and started strategic cooperation. We arranged a round table meeting in 2019, with key stakeholders, mainly representatives from the ministries of the environment and agriculture, water management representatives, with professionals from the Czech Hydrometeorological Institute and the Czech University of Agriculture and we dealt with the burning issue of draught, or in fact, climate changes and efficient use of water resources on hop fields.
In terms of hops and barley, we also carefully watch our suppliers to see whether they farm efficiently and sustainably. We assess their agronomic procedures such as the amount of fertilizer and other resources used for their activities.
We support more efficient hop growing with the help of new technologies. Together with the growers, we work on more efficient data collecting, from the amount of precipitation to weather conditions, in order to better analyse the needs of soil in real time. We believe that this will also increase the harvest.
Water from deep underground
The Pilsen Brewery uses water from its own historical wells which are located no further than one kilometre from the brewery. It is an artesian well in the city part called Na Roudné which František Spalek, the managing engineer of the citizens’ brewery, had drilled at the beginning of the 20th century. He had a water station constructed above this well and from there up to 20 thousand hectolitres of the spring water are supplied to the brewery premises.
Velké Popovice get water from 11 of their own wells, whereas the furthest source is two kilometres away. Taking the past few dry years into consideration, the brewers carefully monitor the level of the spring water and reduce its consumption. The brewery is planning projects which will support increased absorption of rain water in the ground in the surroundings.
The Nošovice Brewery pumps brewing water from the beautiful foothills of the Beskydy Mountains. This is not the only reason that caring for water resources in the region is a matter of course for the brewery. Through the Radegast grant programme, in 2019, we supported projects focused on protecting water resources with the amount of almost half a million Czech Crowns. The total sum has amounted to CZK 2.2M since 2015.