Sunday, January 27, 2013

In Czechoslovakia, Beer Is Cheaper Than Water

Throughout Medieval Europe, people didn't drink water unless they had no other option - there was too great a chance of it being polluted. Instead, they drank beer, wine, or mead with every meal. That's because the fermentation process kills off all harmful bacteria. And in at least one part of Europe, that practice still holds true - Czechoslovakia, where their national beer is the world's finest pilsner, Pilsner Urquell. If you have never had it before, I suggest you treat yourself.

Czechs apparently drink their Pilsner Urquell in such quantity that, based on economies of scale, it is cheaper to buy a Pilsner Urquell in Czechoslovakia than it is to get bottled water. This from Fox News:

In most restaurants and taverns across the Czech Republic, a mug of beer is, literally, cheaper than water. The country's health minister wants to change that as he tries to put Czechs on a lower-hops diet.

It won't be easy. Here in the birthplace of pilsner, beer is known as "liquid bread." Czechs drink an average of 37 gallons of the stuff per person per year, the highest per capita consumption in the world and more than double U.S. levels.

Pub patrons go through the sudsy amber liquid so fast that the nation's largest brewer, SABMiller unit Plzensky Prazdroj, maker of famed Pilsner Urquell, delivers beer with the kind of tank trucks used to haul gasoline, and pumps it into bars' storage vats. . . .

"Beer is like mother's milk for adults," said Marek Gollner, a 36-year-old computer programmer and regular customer at the U Zelenku pub in the Prague suburb of Zbraslav. . . .

"Beer is really widespread, with very deep roots…It's a well-anchored, important part of everyday life," said Jiri Vinopal, director of the Czech Academy of Sciences' Public Opinion Research Center. "It's always been that way. Since the Middle Ages people here have made beer their primary drink." . . .

For at least a thousand years, beer has been a staple in the Czech lands, and the country's native hops are renowned for being aromatic and bitter. St. Wenceslas, a martyred 10th-century Czech nobleman [and the subject of the Christmas carol, Good Kin Wenceslas], is a patron saint of brewing and malting, in addition to being the patron saint of the nation.

I doubt the Health Minister in Czechoslovakia is going to be winning any popularity contests. At any rate, Czechoslovakia is now on my bucket list of places to go before I leave this mortal coil. The thought of spending a week or so quaffing down dirt cheap Pilsner Urquell sounds like it would be well worth the effort.

1 comment:

Green Eyed Jinn said...

Go in late spring and you'll be amazed. Prague is a wonderful place to visit, explore and enjoy. Take one of the walking tours on the first day, then strike out on your own to places that interest you most. And yes, the beer is awesome -- but you've already realized that.