Brewery – Pivovar, Plzeň

The Brewery (Pivovar)

Brewery gates 1991
Brewery gates 1991 – Plzeňský Prazdroj
Photograph © Copyright 1991 Clive Porter

Notice in this photograph that the brewery’s signpost says “Plzeňský Prazdroj” whereas in the second picture (below) this has been replaced with a sign saying “Pilsner Urquell”.

In order to strengthen international corporate and brand identity, the name Plzeňský Prazdroj was dropped in favour of the German name “Pilsner Urquell” which was already being used in the largest markets.

Brewery gates 1993
Brewery gates 1993 – Pilsner Urquell
Photograph © Copyright 1993 Clive Porter

A second and, in my opinion, more important change (excluding the flower garden) is the fact that one of the gates is open. This shows the transition from closed industrial plant to open public monument. This change will be further discussed later in this post.

Plzeňský Pivovar prior to 1991

Plzeňský Pivovar 1983
Plzeňský Pivovar 1983
Copyright information unknown

You may notice that I haven’t posted the crowd photos yet. I had to put that on hold because I found this magnificent photograph of the brewery gates in 1983.

Notice that one of the brewery gates is open. That seems to negate my earlier comments… The red star is quite obviously there too and the slogan Nositel Řádu Práce which I have been unable to translate – can anybody help with that?

 

Brewery gates, Plzeň 1960
The Brewery Gates in 1960
Photographer: J I Sykes, Photograph © Copyright University of St Andrews Library photographic archive

Thanks to the Unitversity of St Andrews for their kind permission to include the above photograph which clearly shows the same brewery sign seen in the 1950s (see below).

 

Brewery gates, Plzeň 1950s
The Brewery Gates in the 1950s
Photograph © Copyright George Krejci

I want to thank George for sending me this fantastic picture of the brewery gates in the 1950s. The star here is just an outline – similar to that found at the main train station. The sign over the door says “Plzeňské Pivovary” and “Národní Podnik” (National Company).

It’s a great photo!

The Brewery Gates Since 1993

Restoring the Brewery Gates
The gates were restored (again) in the late 1990s
Copyright information unknown

 

The Brewery Gates 2002
The gates in 2002
Copyright information unknown

There seem to be some familiar elements missing from the scene in the above photograph.

The most obvious is, perhaps, the sign which, by 2002, would have said Pilsner Urquell. Also missing, though are the steps and the door up to which they lead.

 

The Brewery Shop

Brewery gates September 1991
Brewery gates 1991 – Plzeňský Prazdroj
Photograph © Copyright 1991 Fred Porter

I know, we can’t see the shop can we? Well, in 1991 the shop was housed in the building to the right as we look at the brewery gates. The door is, unfortunately, hidden behind the tourist coach.

Every visit I made included a final visit to the brewery – to buy a box of beer from the shop. A box would include 12 500ml bottles of the world’s best beer but the interesting thing about it was that I would never know which labels would be on the bottles – sometimes they were labelled in Czech, sometimes in Russian, German, etc. Perhaps I should have kept some of the labels – people sell them on ebay these days!

 

The Brewery Restaurant

In 1991 Plzeň’s brewery restaurant Restaurace Prazdroj was one of my favourite places to eat. It was fairly small with long tables which encouraged people to talk. The food was excellent and with a steady flow of the world’s best beer, conversation was an inevitability – an excellent way to make new friends. The atmosphere was unique.

Restaurace Prazdroj 1991
Restaurace Prazdroj 1991
Photograph © Copyright 1991 Clive Porter

 

Restaurace Prazdroj 1993
Restaurace Prazdroj 1993
Photograph © Copyright 1993 Clive Porter

The restaurant was, unfortunately, closed in 1992 or 1993. This too was inevitable as the sheer numbers of visitors wanting to eat and try a beer or two were just to great.

So a new restaurant, “Na Spilce”, was opened within the brewery grounds.

Restaurace Na Spilce
Restaurace Na Spilce
Copyright information unknown

Na Spilce is a much larger restaurant and caters for many more customers than the old restaurant could cope with. It’s sadly lacking in the atmosphere which made Restaurace Prazdroj so enjoyable.

Inside the Brewery Yard

In 1991 I found it very difficult to enter into the brewery yard. The gates were shut and repeated attempts at ringing on the bell often yielded no response. I did manage to enter, but only in order to be told that brewery tours were by appointment only and that I should consult with ÄŒedok (I can’t think why.)

In 1992 the gates were opening and a list of brewery tour times was posted – they were tentative and dependant on a guide being available. No guide was ever available for me in 1992 but I did get to talk to some very nice people.

Brewery Yard 1993
Inside the brewery yard in 1993
Photograph © Copyright 1993 Clive Porter

In 1993 tours were not only easily available, but regular and crowded.

Did I say crowded? In 1993? You should see them now!

Brewery Yard 2004
Inside the brewery yard 2004
Photograph from the EPDIC website

I’d like to see more early photographs – any offers?

Prohlídky Pivovaru Plzeň
U Prazdroje 7
304 97 Plzeň
Tel.: +420 377 061 111
Fax: +420 377 062 230

 

For some interesting recent photographs of the brewery, visit : Fotoalbum českých pivovarů – Plzeňský Prazdroj

3 thoughts on “Brewery – Pivovar, Plzeň

  1. Eva Haunerova

    Hello Clive,

    I will try to translate the sign: “Nositel Řádu práce” in the third picture. I guess it could be translated like: “Ayardee of the Labour Award” – this used to be a very prestigious award during the Communist era given to the companies which were useful for the Communist regime.

    Reply
  2. Matej Valek

    Translation of the term “Nositel Řádu Práce” is “Řád Práce recipient” and Řád Práce in Czechoslovakia during the communist era was a similar thing like “The Order of Labor Glory” in former Soviet Union… http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Order_of_Labor_Glory

    I hope you understand this post because I’m not experienced user of English…

    Reply

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