In German, the famous hop used in those original Czech pilsners is called “saaz” hops, but in the Bohemian part of the Czech Republic, where they’re grown, the word is “zatec,” named for the town where they were first grown. According to the town’s history, “the name of Zatec was first mentioned in the Thietmar of Merseburg Chronicle in 1004.” Today the town of Zatec has its own hop museum.
There’s also a brewery in town, Zatecky Pivovar, and they’ve been brewing in the same location for a long, long time.
The history of Czech breweries contains only two breweries with proven a tradition of brewing beer in a single location for more than 700 years — Svitavy (1256) and Žatec (1261). The Society of Žatec Privileged Brewers was established in Žatec in 1261. The two beers called “Samec” and “Kozel” were in high demand in Bohemia and at court, requested by nobility and lords, at the table as well as for festive parties.
Merchant Du Vin, the Seattle importer who also brings Ayinger, Lindemans, Orval, Rochefort, Samuel Smith, Traquair House, and Westmalle, among others, into the U.S., will now be distributing Zatec in the States, as well. According to the press release, product should be in the states some time this June.
From the press release:
The Zatecky Pivovar in Zatec, Czech Republic.
Zatec! I used to love Lind Brewing’s Zatec. I look forward to tasting the original.
And Prost! to Roger if he’s reading this.
Jeff Cunningham says
It is interesting to me that they consider themselves a “small brewery” and yet they can mass produce enough beer for their local customers and make the beer “available at bars, restaurants, and stores nationwide”. Also, can someone please explain to me what a “hedonistic fresh herbal aroma” is? Regardless, if they’re using two row and doubledecoction mashing it is sure to be a quality lager.
Craig Hartinger says
For Mr. Cunningham:
Thanks for the comments – I’m the guy who wrote the press release.
1. Production at Zatec is currently small, but it has growth potential. At its production peak as a state-run brewery (1976) Zatec brewed 175,000 hl; after the Velvet Revolution production declined sharply. We are working to get our distributors to carry this across the US, and while it certainly won’t be at every single US bar and store we are doing our best to get it into wide distribution.
2. In the case of Zatec, “hedonistic fresh herbal aroma” is the characteristic floral, spicy yet refined, Zatec hop (Saaz in German) aroma, very forward. I used the word “hedonistic” (Wikipedia: hedonism: “a philosophy that focuses on increasing pleasure”) in an effort to express a hop aroma that is forward, yet still very appealing to folks who don’t have deep beer knowledge or deep beer vocabulary.
Sorry if my marketing hyperbole was too over-the-top 😉
Craig Hartinger – Merchant du Vin – firstname.lastname@example.org