The largest hop growing region in Czech is where the famous Noble hop, Saaz comes from. That's the Germanic version of the word — in the Bohemia region of Czech, they call it Žatec, the name of the town where the annual hop harvest hosts thousands of people as they celebrate their heritage.
This particular Saaz farm contracts hops primarily for Pilsner Urquell, the country's famous Pilsener producer, and Czech residents still soak up 90% of their production, an astoniching number when you consider how often you see Pilsner Urquell around the world. In fact, in Czech, the beer goes by no other name, and no other producer claims to make a pilsner at all. For them, it's not a style, it's a brewery, beer, and style all in one name. Everyone else makes a "pale lager."
The production of hops in Czech has a long, rich history for a society that's still largely rooted in agrarian culture. Similar to the farming history of the region, this particular farm employed both young and old, men and women. Although, there were no children alongside their mothers in the bine yards, which was a traditional practice for hundreds of years.
In the video, you'll also see a few hills (rows) of EcoStone variant, an organic strain the farm is experimenting with, working hard to increase their yields and fight diseases that the more industrialized hops and pesticides are adept at avoiding.
Stay tuned for more incredible stories coming out of Czech. This was only one stop on an amazing adventure.
A huge thanks to Pilsner Urquell, Mark Dredge and the entire team for their generosity in helping make this trip possible, as well as memorable.