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Sleep well, Ležák is safe

The general public can sigh in relief. Those evil bureaucrats won't be messing with their cultural identity. At the same time, local geeks and brewers can sleep well in the knowledge that Czech beer nomenclature won't be the object of international mockery once the new legislation comes into force. The most contentious issue of the proposed amendment to Regulation no. 335/1997 Coll. of the Ministry of Agriculture of the Czech Republic has been settled with a compromise.

It is been agreed that Ležák will remain as a category, but only reserved to bottom fermented beers, as Perun and Praotec Čech intended, while all the rest will be indicated as Plné Pivo—always for beers of 11 to 12.9° Plato

At last Tuesday's press conference, representatives of the Czech Association of Micro Breweries (Českomoravský svaz minipivovarů - ČMSMP) explained that this, and the other changes, will more accurately reflect the current picture of the local beer market, adding that, in order to keep up with the evolution of the market, further amendments should be expected in the near future.

That's an aim I share, and I would therefore like to contribute a few ideas to the future amendments:

Výčepní pivo, as a name for a category has been made obsolete and inaccurate. Since 2009, most of the beer in the Czech Republic is drunk bottled, and I'm sure someone somewhere is laughing at the image of láhvové výčepní pivo, like it happened with top-fermented Ležák. The legislation should somewhat address that, too. My first choice for the new name, Lahváč, presented two problems: on the one hand, it is still a registered trade-mark, on the other, it could create confusion at a pub; people would no longer order “Výčepní”, but a “Lahváč” and the server might bring them a bottle instead of a draft beer. A better name then would be Chlastační pivo. It sounds nice, I think—Braník chlastační pivo světlý—and it's very accurate. Degustační pivo should be also considered instead of Silné. (Ležák, of course, should not be touched, I wouldn't like Pavel Páral to make a fool of himself again with an opinion piece about beer.)

The name Plné pivo seems to have been chosen a bit on a rush and that's why, I believe, besides opening the door for a lot of silly jokes, it does not fully express the contrast with Ležák. To that purpose I suggest Stoják, Rychlák, Svrchňák or simply Ejlák.

But the changes should not end there. Beer nomenclature has a lot of inaccuracies, some of which border the offensive. India Pale Ale should be revised. Not only modern IPAs have nothing to do with India, but the name also refers to colonial oppression and brutality. I suggest Hop-forward Pale Ale or Indiscreet Pale Ale, if they want to keep the acronym. Imperial, as an indicator for stronger, presents a similar problem. Not only this country hasn't been part of an empire for nearly a century, but the word is also contrary to the tenets that form the pillars of European values. I suggest Democratic, Inclusive or Humanistic as alternatives.

But let's not get carried away. This is a concern that transcends the boundaries of Czech beer culture and thus, it should be addressed at the international stage.

Na Zdraví!


  1. "... colonial oppression and brutality..." Really? Hardly the commonwealth view even if the vision of some angstity Londoners. What nation didn't engage in oppression and brutality in the 1700s and 1800s? Where is this magic land? How much more than the competition did parliamentary constitutional democracy aid today's subjects of the Crown? Why isn't IPA a foundation of the upside of the colonial legacy, too?

    1. Because they were the beverage of choice of the while privileged elites of the colonial administration, who where the only ones who could afford it, and they are bitter, like the legacy of colonialism in Asia and Africa. Further, their not having any connection with India whatsoever, makes them an object of cultural appropriation, very much like Yoga.

  2. I'd check Pete Browns book on the development of race in the later Victorian era. The earlier Georgians were much more interested in intermarrying into local leadership whether in India or here into Iroquois culture. My colonial town was founded by an Anglo-American-Mohawk elite that only lost its place around 1820. But maybe that's a distinction between Porter and IPA. The first is the beer of the less bigoted power, wealth and status based bastardly first British empire while IPA is the beer of the second race based bastardly Victorian British empire. We really ought to investigate the Belgians, though. The ugly legacy of the Congo might have Trappist association. Did those murderous administrators sip on gueuze?

    Still, angst over attaching cultural appropriation of yoga or a place name like India or finding maple flavoured products away from Canada does strike me as much of a first world issue. Is this actually a strong matter for you? Not distrespecting you, just quite curious. It's certainly an ethical position and I am as laced with petty bigotries as the next guy.

  3. Is this actually a strong matter for you?
    Are you seriously asking that?

  4. Could go either way. Does one good in a pinch to apply "Canadian Politeness Rule #37" aka treading slowly and softly. Akin to rule #16 - look before you leap.

    1. I'm tempted to say you're being too Canadian, but that'll be probably racist.


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