Czech brewery Bernard launches a beer-based brandy

With no way to sell fresh kegs, the family run brewer decided to distill some of its output

Raymond Johnston

Written by Raymond Johnston
Published on 02.09.2020 09:20 (updated on 02.09.2020)

The family brewery Bernard has introduced something unexpected — beer brandy. When pubs were closed due to the pandemic, brewery owner Stanislav Bernard came up with the idea of making a new beverage since the opportunity to sell kegs of fresh beer was limited.

The beer brandy has a 50.6% alcohol content, and is the first distilled product made by Bernard. Unlike beer, which has a limited shelf life, brandy can last indefinitely. The brandy has been produced in a limited edition of 2,000 half-liter bottles and 3,000 one-deciliter bottles.

The brewery’s management did not know what to expect. “The result is a very pleasant surprise. The result is a perfectly clean, fine brandy in which you can easily smell malt. People like that taste, and their first reactions make us happy,” Stanislav Bernard said.

The new beverage was created in the Zámecké sady Chrámce distillery, which produces small batches of customized spirits. The first samples were prepared there by distillery professional Jiří Syrovátka from several kegs of beer. “Mr. Syrovátka conjured for a while, then he fine-tuned everything and we tasted it. We then sent a whole truck of beer to be distilled,” Stanislav Bernard said. Each bottle has its own unique label.

Glasses of beer in Prague via iStock / alexxx_77
Glasses of beer in Prague via iStock / alexxx_77

Fresh lager was used for distilling, not spoiled beer that had been left over due to the closing of pubs. The brandy is just hitting the market now as the distilling process is not as fast as simply brewing beer.

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The alcohol content at 50.6%, or 101.2 proof, is quite high. The popular Czech drink Becherovka, for example is 38% alcohol, as are many types of Czech rum (tuzemský). Typical bottled whiskeys are 40% to 46%, though cask strength whiskeys can be around 60%.

The brandy is about 10 times stronger than Bernard’s typical beers. Bernard’s various lagers in bottles have an alcohol content ranging from 4.5% to 5.0% alcohol. They also have a range that includes non-alcoholic beers, a special keg lager with a 6.0%, and two ales with 5.6% and 8.2% alcohol.

The Bernard brandy will be available from September 1 in the brewery’s e-shop and branded stores, at selected sellers of quality branded alcohol, and will be part of the offer of the visitor center, which the brewery will open next year.

Many breweries during the early part of the coronavirus pandemic, when restaurants and pubs were closed, had to be creative to sell their products. Some unsold beer had to be destroyed, which was complicated due to the alcohol.