Hops and higher education: university breweries in the Czech Republic

Hops and higher education: university breweries in the Czech Republic

In a country where beer is such an integral part of the culture, history and society, it’s not surprising that the study and practice of making beer extends into Czech higher education. In fact, some institutions have breweries that are situated right on their university campuses. We spoke to representatives of two higher education institutions that have brewing programmes. Read on to learn what we found out.

The Czech Republic’s thriving pub culture is one that has carried on for generations. The first recorded brewing was in 990 AD, by Bohemian monks, at the Břevnov Monastery near Prague Castle, with evidence of hops being grown in the region for the purposes of beer production even before then. Furthermore, the first beer-brewing textbook was written here in the 18th century by František Ondřej Poupě, who was also responsible for establishing the use of thermometers and other measuring instruments in the beer brewing process.

Continuing to boast the highest beer consumption per capita in the world, the beer industry in the Czech Republic has a continuous need for new, professional brewers. Where are some of the country’s top brewers being educated?

The Institute of Chemical Technology Prague

The Institute of Chemical Technology Prague (ICT Prague) has been around for centuries, its history connected to the beginning of chemistry education in Bohemia. The current onsite mini-brewery dates back to 1937. Since then it has been renovated several times, the modern ‘brewing house’ having been constructed in 1965 by the Czech company ZVÚ Hradec Králové. The equipment serves both students and staff for experimental brewing and research purposes, particularly used to perform parts of M.Sc. and Ph.D. theses. Another brewery with an even higher capacity was erected in 2010.

ICT Prague cooperates with a number of Czech beer-making companies, from the largest ones such as Pilsner Urquell and Budvar, to some of the smaller mini-breweries. Students frequently have the opportunity to cooperate with these brewing companies, gaining valuable experience that the university cannot give them on its own.

Czech University of Life Sciences Prague

The experimental and training brewery at the Czech University of Life Sciences Prague (CULS Prague), Faculty of Engineering, opened its doors in 2006. The brewery’s Director, Associate Professor Ladislav Chladek, is an expert brewmaster with many years of experience with top Czech breweries. Courses on ‘brewery technology’ are taught in the framework of the study programme ‘Food, technology and processing’.

The brewery primarily serves the purpose of education and training for CULS Prague students, with the beer produced at this small brewery having won many prizes at various Czech Beer Exhibitions. The production of the lager beer ‘Suchdol Jenik’ is based on strictly natural procedures under constant technological supervision, using only first class malt, choice hop and pure water.

These institutions will be showcasing their facilities (including their mini-breweries) to participants during the Campus tours at the 26th Annual EAIE Conference. Micro-brewing is just one example of the rich offerings that have developed within the Czech higher education system, as we saw in a previous blog post, On the waves of innovation: higher education in the Czech Republic. Join us for the EAIE Prague 2014 session: Introduction to higher education in the Czech Republic, and learn more about some of these opportunities. Spend the day discovering a Czech higher education institution by registering for one of six Campus tours.