Origins of Beer in Bohemia with Dr. Katerina Prusova

Origins of Beer in Bohemia with Dr. Katerina Prusova


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This seminar presents the origins of beer in Bohemia and the development of the technology of beer making. Besides the best-known breweries such as Pilsner Urquell or Budweiser, there are currently over 600 operating microbreweries in the Czech Republic. The participants will become acquainted with some of the most interesting beer specials produced both historically and today.

We’ll trace the origins of beer since the time of the Celts before the common era. We’ll learn how the Celts flavored their beer with herbs, such as sage, wormwood, mint or cinnamon, and Germans with bark or bovine bile, the Slavs were the first ones to use hops in the area. The flavors of the beer thus developed from sweet honey through aromatic herbs to the bitter tones that are common nowadays.

The formation of Central European states is closely related to the spreading of Christianity as the first breweries were operated by the first monasteries. To this day, the oldest convents in Prague are still producing beer! We’ll move onto learning about beer brewing and beer soups in the Middle Ages and its remedy for certain illnesses or treating insomnia. We’ll discuss brewing permissions as well as cultures that considered beer a divine drink.

We’ll finish up by discussing the evolution of beer since the nineteenth century in industrial Bohemia and Moravia, with over 70% percent of the imperial industry. Besides great spring water and technology, we’ll learn how the success of Bohemian beer was also based on quick delivery thanks to a dense grid of railways. 

Led by historian Dr. Katerina Prusova, participants will come away with an increased understanding of the origins of beer and the transformation of the technology of beer making through the centuries. Designed to inform curiosity as well as future travels, eager beer listeners will be acquainted with a variety of microbreweries in the Czech Republic and their beer specials.

Katerina Prusova holds a Ph.D. from Charles University in Prague.  For the past 11 years, she has been teaching various classes in History and Culture at multiple Prague universities. She worked at the Gallery of the City of Prague as a specialist on the cultural history of the Middle Ages. Katerina is a native of the Czech Republic, a country where the average yearly consumption of beer is 40 gallons per capita and is referred to as "liquid bread". She grew up in a time when a pint of beer was cheaper than a glass of mineral water. This "divine drink" is a natural part of Bohemian culture and it is inseparable from it.

This course is not suitable for children under age 16

90 minutes, including a 30 minute Q&A.

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