Craft of Making Pilsner Urquell Barrels Added to National Cultural Heritage List

In December, Czech Minister of Culture Antonín Staněk approved the addition of the craft of barrel-making at the Pilsner brewery to the national intangible heritage list [“Seznam nemateriálních statků tradiční lidové kultury České republiky”]. Pilsner barrel makers have thus taken a decisive step towards becoming eligible to be added to UNESCO’s World Intangible Cultural Heritage List. Photo credit: Plzeňský Prazdroj.

Brno, Jan 3 (BD) –  Pilsen beer-barrel makers can now apply to become one of a prestigious group of crafts listed as having worldwide cultural and historical significance. “We are pleased with the Minister of Culture’s decision. The craft of barrel making is an integral part of the brewery. We would like to get onto the UNESCO list,” said Rudolf Šlehofer, Manager of Tourism and Historical Heritage at the Plzeňský Prazdroj brewery.

The eight-member team of barrel makers at Plzeňský Prazdroj are the most recent practitioners of a famous tradition that dates back to the beginning of the production of the famous Pilsen lager more than 176 years ago. At the time of greatest prosperity for the brewery at the beginning of the last century, approximately 150 coopers were working at the Pilsen brewery. Plzeňský Prazdroj is apparently the only brewery in the world maintaining the tradition of this craft.

Photo credit: Plzeňský Prazdroj.

The craft plays an important role in the production of lager even today. Thanks to the work of the barrel makers, today’s brewers can compare the beer matured in modern cylindroconical tanks with that matured and fermented in the traditional way.

Each year, Pilsen’s barrel makers produce two new lager barrels of about 40 hectoliters, which are stored in the lager cellars. In total, the brewery keeps around 100 large barrels, as well as producing small beer-barrels ranging from 3 to 50 liters for various festive occasions.

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