Monday 6th May 2013
Brewing has returned to the small village of Kounice after a break of 112 years. This momentous occasion occurred on 18th of September 2012.
This was when the first beer from the new brewery installed in the village pub, was offered to the general public. As is often the case, BeerVisits is quickly on the scene to give readers a report.
Kounice is in the province of Středočeský Kráj (Central Bohemia) that surrounds the city of Prague. It is around six kilometres north of the ancient market town of Český Brod, which itself is around 35 kilometres east of Prague. See Important Information below on how to get there.
In the past the village was well known for its brewing and malting, there being a well-established brewery here from the 16th Century. The surrounding countryside was well suited to the cultivation of barley and other grain. Hop gardens were also to be found nearby.
By 1757, 1,300 hectolitres per annum were being produced by the brewery. In 1884, when it was taken over by the present owners, it was turning out 3,500 to 5,000 hectolitres each year.
However, at the end of the 19th Century it faced some fierce competition from a huge newly built industrial brewery in Nymburk, which is still with us today. Another new (reconstructed) brewery was opened in Kostalec, providing more rivalry.
The brewery closed in 1900 but the maltings continued in business and are still doing so today. The old brewery still stands and is an absolutely stunning building. It is believed to have been built around 1680 and is in the baroque style. If you didn't notice the chimneys of the maltings behind, you could be convinced in thinking it was a monastery church or some other ecclesiastical building.
During the communist era from 1948 it became the property of the state but reverted to the former owners, the Klusáčků family in 1992. Maltings are Sladovy in Czech and here they are the Sladova Klusáčkek, although it is interesting to note that the holding company is Kounický Pivovar (Kounice Brewery). This indicates that maybe the malting company could be behind the new microbrewery. Or, of course, it is possible that they haven't bothered changing the company's name for 113 years!
The village pub is Kounická Hospůdka (Little Kounice pub). When it opened at 11.00 that morning I was second through the door. It opens in to a room with the bar opposite which I would describe as the public bar. There are also rooms right and left and I went to the one on the left because I could see the brewery. An opening has been made up the wall and the mash tun and copper were visible in the next room.
A group of three workers from the maltings came in and had lunch with soup, and beer, of course. Others came and went and they were exactly what you'd expect, mostly painters and decorators, judging by their work-stained overalls.
I made a mistake at first and asked for a beer, not knowing what exactly was on offer, and was offered a desitska (10%), and I agreed. The beer arrived and it was in a glass branded for the Svijany brewery. The beer was fine but I slowly realised that it was not what I had come here for. I grabbed a menu from an adjacent table and saw that they offered four beers. I got it right the next time and ordered Kounický Lezak 12° (5.0% abv). It was an unfiltered lager and I liked it a lot as it had a good residual bitterness.
For the record the other three beers were as follows: from the Svijany brewery of the small village of that name in the North East of Bohemia there was Svijanská 10° (4.0%) and Máz 11° (4.8%). Please note that Svijany beers on draught are unpasteurized. They also had Plzeňský Prazdroj (Pilsener Urquell) 12° (4.4%). How a beer at 11° on the Plato system is 4.8% abv and another at 12° on the same system comes out at just 4.4% abv is beyond normal logic? Is it because the producers of Urquell (nowadays SAB-Miller) have reduced the strength of this once-classic beer over the years?
Although it involves a trip out into the countryside, can I say that it is well worth the effort to visit this great little pub? The village is definitely old Bohemia, and it has a long history.
Kounický Pivovar at Kounická Hospůdka, Kounice 52, Kounice, 28915. Tel: 0604 002 529
Open: Monday to Thursday 11.00-23.00; Friday to Saturday 11.00-24.00;
Kounice is reached by the 411 bus that runs from Český Brod station to Lysá nad Labem station. It is a 10 minute journey from Český Brod and about 30 minutes from Lysá. The buses are quite infrequent, basically every 1.5 to 2 hours apart. You need to look very carefully at the timetable as some buses run on working days, others on Saturdays only, and all other sorts of combinations. Although I will say that there do not seem to be many on Sundays. If you're keen to go there don't let this put you off. Should you travel via Český Brod there is an electronic departure indicator, so you will soon know you have got it wrong! Please also note that the timetable changes on 1st May as I found out, nearly missing a bus when it departed 20 minutes earlier!
Travelling from Prague via Český Brod is the best way as it is on the Prague suburban S network and trains run every 30 minutes and take about 40 minutes from Masyrykovo station in the city.