Monday 6th May 2013
Although production has only recently recommenced in Únetíce, this brewery has already won several awards and a lot of accolades for the quality of their beers. It is located in a village just outside the Prague city boundaries in the administrative area of Středočeský Kráj (Central Bohemia). I was visiting the brewery's tap with Prague resident Andrew, at that time just after lunch when pubs are very quiet. It had been raining earlier so that also would have been an influencing factor as to why we were the only customers, apart from one man and his dog.
This is yet another brewery with an interesting history that commences in 1710 when it was established. It continued producing beer for the surrounding areas for the next 150 years or so. It underwent an increase in production in the second half of the nineteenth century under the ownership of Alexander Kottler, reaching 21,600 hectolitres per annum.
An ice house was constructed and ice was taken from the adjacent pond in winter to enable beer to be keep maturing in the summer months.
Unfortunately it did not recover well from the First World War and suffered a lot of competition from the big industrial breweries of Prague during the early years of the new Czechoslovak Republic. As soon as the second world conflict was over it underwent some modernisation. However, this was to no avail, as at the onset of communist rule it was nationalised and was originally put into a management group of breweries along with those in the towns of Kladno and Rakovnik (to the North West) as it was not in the city area. However, that was soon changed and it became a unit of the Prague breweries group. There was no room for it amongst the three giant Prague producers and it came under the administration of Staropramen, who closed it 1949.
To digress a little; at the end of communism the same groupings persisted and the newly democratic government made a big mistake in keeping them that way when they offered shares to the public and business. Had they been split up into individual breweries, we would still have three large breweries in Prague with the ensuing competition in the market place, rather than the monolith that is Staropramen.
Of course this only applied to former companies and those previously in family ownership were soon claimed by their rightful heirs. One only has to look at the way these have flourished to see that the government got it wrong.
To fast-forward to the present times, the brewery buildings, which were being used as a store for dairy products, were purchased by Štěpán Tkadlec in 2010. He set about creating a new brewery and it opened its doors to the public on 11th June 2011.
Since then, it has gone from strength to strength, being extended in 2012 and in May 2013 when a number of 100 hl lagering tanks were installed. With all of the improvements the capacity has doubled in just two years of opening.
At its inauguration the brewing equipment was of 25hl capacity with primary fermentation made in 50hl open vessels, thus two brews, for about a week, before lagering of up to seven weeks in closed tanks, this may have increased since.
Right from the beginning a beer hall / restaurant was included in the buildings along with a beer garden in the former yard. When we walked through the door I was rather surprised to see how traditional it looked with a typical vaulted roof although some of the other decor was more modern. This part of the brewery was once the maltings but nowadays this is bought in, mostly Pilsner malt.
The two regular beers were on offer in the pub: Únetícký 10° (3.8%) and Únetícký 12° (4.9%). Both were served unfiltered but I understand filtered versions are available and are to found in the many bars and pubs of Prague. I liked them both and was rather surprised that my favourite was the 10°, probably because it was a bit bitterer than the 12°.
There are also seasonal beers: for the Carnival in February there is Únetícký Speciál Masopustní 11°, a dark lager. In September, Únetícký Posvícenského Speciál 11° (4.6%), a polotmavé (amber) rye beer is available. At Christmas you can have Únetícký Vánoční Speciál 13° (5.0%). Finally, a small mystery; as when we entered the pub I noticed there was a beer listed on the blackboard as follows: Ve stredu navaźení: Baronův Weizenbock 16° (6.9% abv). It's a strange mixture of Czech and German and obviously a bock wheat beer, but where from?
This is a very progressive brewery and has a good reputation for its food and makes a very worthwhile trip out of Prague.
Únetícký Pivovar, Rýznerova 19/5, Únetíce 25282. Tel: 220 515 687
Open: Monday to Wednesday 11.00-22.00; Thursday to Saturday 11.00-23.00;
The pub is easy to get to from Dejvická metro station on either the 355 or 359 bus. One runs via Suchdol so takes a little longer, although the overall journey is 25 to 30 minutes. You must alight at the Na Parcelách stop which is before the village. From there cross the road to the stop for buses going the other way and go down the steps to the same road further down the hill, then you will find the brewery on the left. Please note that as you are travelling outside of the city, the day and three day tickets are not valid all the way. On the way out Andrew asked the driver about this and he said he didn't care. However the guy on the way back wanted an extra 12 Kč.