Thanks to a quick email exchange with Evan Rail, author of Good Beer Guide: Prague and the Czech Republic and the Beer Culture blog, I have just learned about a monk-made abbey beer in the Czech Republic. Želiv is apparently the only monastery brewery in Central and Eastern Europe. And for me at least, what’s even more interesting is that we lived just around the corner from this place for years and never knew it existed.
Of course, back in the days when we lived (and actually met) in the small Bohemian town of Chotěboř, maybe 30 km up the road from the abbey, Fiona and I were more occupied with Czech lagers, like Gambrinus, Radegast and the locally brewed Rebel. Despite the small number of styles sampled, much research was carried out.
Well, we go back to Chotěboř to visit friends more or less every year, so next time we’re over there, we’ll have to take a short side trip to Želiv, visit the monastery and sample their beers.
Just one last note, which is neither here nor there really: on the Želiv Brewery website, there’s a nice graphic: a family tree of beer styles. It’s partly in Czech, but I think even non-Czech speakers can get the basic idea. It’s first divided into two major groups -- top-fermenting and bottom-fermenting beers -- then you get into the sub-groups and individual types.