How to do the Budweiser Budvar Brewery Tour: All you need to know here
We knew that the Czech Republic is famous for their beer, and one of the oldest breweries is in Ceske Budejovice.
So that’s a pretty convenient reason to pay a visit to the capital of South Bohemia don’t you think?
During our visit to Ceske Budejovice, we had a great time and one of the highlights has to be one of the Budweiser Brewery tours.
What? Budweiser? That’s right, we did not type that wrongly nor did you see the wrong words.
But here we are not talking about the one in America. We are talking about the original Budweiser beer.
No trip to Czech Republic would be complete without a visit to a brewery, and in this article, we are going to talk more about the original Budweiser Beer and a visit to its brewery in Ceske Budejovice.
Read on if you want to know what’s the tour about and our review!
What's covered in this post
Some history about Budweiser beer first
Before going into the details of the tour, lets cover a bit of the history and the background of Budweiser beer.
You see, back in the days (in 1265) when King Ottokar II was in charge, he granted a brewing permit to the city to be an official brewer.
It then grew exponentially and become an important exporter of beer, at one point even to the Holy Roman Empire.
The name Budweiser then came about to distinguish itself from other regions, which means ‘beer from Budweis’.
So let’s take a moment to appreciate King Ottokar II who gave us Budweiser Budvar beer.
Following its tremendous success, the small breweries came together to and a company was formed in 1895 and named The Czech Joint Stock Brewery.
During a period of nationalisation, the company became state owned and remains so till today.
Despite offers to buy over the business, they have remained staunch in keeping this to themselves and insisting on producing beer only with materials from Czech Republic.
Obviously we may not be privy to the full details of what’s happened, but we do know that the Czechs started shipping beer to America in 1872.
Shortly after, the American Carl Conrad chose the Anheuser Busch brewery to replicate the Budweiser beer, and applied for a trademark with the American Patent Office.
Apparently, this was not authorised and actually became the point of disputes, continuing on today, over the use of this name.
So today, you will find the Czech beer selling in America as Czechvar beer, but as Budweiser in most parts of Europe.
On the other hand, the American version markets itself simply as Bud in Europe.
As beer lovers, we can only comment that we are happy with the Czech version, which still uses ingredients entirely sourced from within the country.
Budvar is currently the second biggest producer of beer in the Czech Republic, behind the number one guy Pilsner Urquell.
How to get to the Budvar Brewery?
While most of the main sights of Ceske Budejovice is situated in or around the Old Town, the Budweiser Budvar Brewery is not, for obvious reasons.
Instead, it is located about 15 minutes bus ride north of the old town, in an industrial area.
To get there, you can get yourself a taxi, which is probably the most straightforward method, but you can also consider taking the bus.
From outside the main bus station of Ceske Budejovice at Mercury Mall, take the bus service number 5 and transfer to bus service number 2 outside of IGY mall.
Alternatively, you can choose to simply take bus service number 2 from outside the post office near the old town.
Total journey time should not exceed 20 minutes and the cost is 16 CZK if purchased from the machine, or 25 CZK if purchased from the bus driver.
One website we like to use while travelling in Czech Republic is IDOS, so you should check that out too.
Prices and opening hours
The brewery is open all year round, with fixed timings for the brewery tours.
Budweiser tour price is 150 CZK per adult.
Read on for more information of the Budweiser Brewery tour times.
In the summer months of July and August, there are 2 tours scheduled daily, and you can simply show up for either the 11am or 2pm tour.
But since it is the peak season, we advice you to show up early to secure a place on the tour.
From September to June, there is 1 tour conducted daily at 2pm.
And in January to February, the time slot is also at 2pm, but does not operate on Sundays.
If for any reason you are not able to visit at the designated time slots, the brewery does conduct tours for a minimum of 5 persons.
Prices are 200 CZK per adult.
All regular tours are available in English, Czech, German, while non regular tours can be arranged for Spanish, French, Italian and Russian languages.
More information is found on Budějovický Budvar website.
What is the tour about?
The duration of the guided tour is 60 minutes, and during this time, a guide will lead the tour group from the main reception area of the brewery all the way into the brewing rooms and storing facilities and even a walk through the bottling area.
First stop after leaving the reception area is a short explanation about the plant’s artesian wells.
What artesian wells mean is that the water from the ground, in this case over 300 metres deep, comes to the surface naturally, without a need for a pump.
Over here at this site, the waters are pumped from an underground lake into the plant’s storage tanks, which will be used for the beer production.
Mind you, the water is over thousands of years old, dating back to the Ice Age, and they are so pure that it does not need any filtering.
And since this well is unique and only found here, there is no way to have another brewery anywhere else in the world. Another plus point for originality!
Next stop brings us to the entrance of the main building. On the short walk there, we pass by the warehouse area where you can see millions of bottles being pushed into their respective stations.
At the entrance, the guide stops and talks us through the brewing process. For those interested, here is the flow chart that gives you an overview.
Following the short briefing of the brewing process, as well as an idea of what to expect inside, in we go.
We first climb up 4 flights of stairs (or may 5?) to reach a viewing platform of the copper mash tuns where the process of brewing begins.
Malt from Moravia and Czech hops are mixed together with water and wort is formed. Yeast is then added in to start the fermentation process crucial for all beers, and this is when the mixture is transferred out to fermentation tanks.
These copper mash are huge and looks very impressive. We were told that the cleaning of these mashes were done manually and takes over 3 hours to finish cleaning one!
Following this, we proceeded to descend into the basement cellars where the finished product is stored.
Visitors should take note that temperatures here can get pretty chilly, down to the single digits, so it would be wise to have a jacket along. You will need to spend approximately 15 minutes here.
Entering the large storage room, we were greeted by some staff of the brewery, and our guide proceeds to explain some of the ingredients used.
What was really interesting is the fact that Budvar sticks to an old German law known as Reinheitsgebot, which loosely translates to German Beer Purity Law.
This means that beer from Germany or the Old Roman Empire can only contain water, hops and barley. In Budvar’s case, they do have an exception which is yeast, but you can be sure no other ingredients such as preservatives are added.
Very soon, loud cheers are heard as one of the staff steps forward and offers us freshly brewed beer, poured right out of the tanks. Very light and crisp, delicious! Beer tasting at its best!
With the tasting session over, we next move to another part of the building.
Along the bridge connecting two buildings, you can peep out and watch the staff going about their business.
And if you pay attention, you can still see a train track where the original train was used to transport the beer. It is still being used today. Super cool!
We now get the chance to walk through the bottling facility. Be aware that it gets pretty loud in here but otherwise the whole section is safe for everyone.
The crew that runs this section is in for a tough assignment, as Budvar produces 400 million bottles per year!
The company pays attention to sustainability too, as bottles are collected from all over the country to be reused, and they are treated with a sodium and high heat wash.
After our walk through the bottling plant, we had time for a short chat with our guide, and was glad to learn about the history of this place.
We could tell that the staff here are passionate and proud of their tradition, and hopefully there will be a positive conclusion of their ongoing case with Budweiser.
As we get ready to walk back to the main entrance, we had one last chance to catch a glimpse of the offices and some cool displays being placed around the block.
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Should you attend the Budvar Tour?
Yes, absolutely! Our experience was great.
It was a real eye opener to be part of this tour, and we appreciated the effort to let guests go as far in as possible to the critical parts of the Budweiser brewery, giving it an authentic feel.
The guide was friendly and informative and really made the whole tour complete.
So yes, please take the time to come if you are in the Southern Bohemian region or maybe just next door Cesky Krumlov, and try out some Budvar beer.
Before leaving the premises, there is a souvenir shop available to buy some unique gifts, or you can walk around the wonderfully curated Budweiser museum area, which really gives you a better understanding of what went on since the 12th century.
Don’t forget to watch the cheesy movie which was shown in a mini cinema near the exit, it is so funny!
Budvar vs United States Budweiser. No prizes for guessing who won!
Next door, you will find its restaurant, Budvarka, which is really excellent not just for the beer, make sure you try out the food!
Logistics before visiting Ceske Budejovice
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