The hop is Czechia’s treasure trove
Hops, a perennial herb grown for its bitter flowers, are the magical ingredient that no brewery can do without today. And when the topic of hops comes up, brewers pretty much all over the world think of that finest variety, the red-bine Saaz, which originates in the landscape around the town of Žatec on the boundary between North and West Bohemia. Not only can you enjoy this variety in Czechia’s world-famous Pilsner lager, but it is also used in Guinness, the Irish stout, and the Belgian Stella Artois.
The traditional art of hop growing refined to perfection
Hops have been grown around Žatec for some 700 years now and during that time a unique landscape has been shaped with this in mind; the very best varieties originated here and people built towns literally designed around the hop processing industry. This all imbues the Žatec region with its own specific character.
The hop-scented treasures of Žatec
However, It’s not only the historical centre of Žatec and the monuments that have always been associated with the cultivation, storage and processing of hops that have been listed as World Heritage Sites, but also the places that traded in hops, the hopfields around the Ohře River, Trnovany with its preserved hop drying kilns, and also the hopfields near the village of Stekník, which is also home to a beautiful purely Rococo château with an Italian terraced garden, which adds a unique touch of character to this hop-filled landscape.
Žatec, a town with hops in its DNA!
The heart of the town of Žatec is its historical centre, in which the character and atmosphere of centuries gone by lives on. The roofs of the townhouses are interspersed with the chimneys of drying kilns and other establishments associated with the hop-processing industry.
Where’s a good place to learn more about hops?
You can visit the townhouse right next to the Žatec Brewery, which houses the Brewing Museum of the Žatec Region, where you can explore the history of breweries past and present in this famous hop-growing region. It shows several films on how beer is brewed, but beer itself is not on tap in the museum: anyone interested can take a tour around the museum and the brewery, including the chance to taste the beer.
Want to get a closer look at hops?
Throughout Žatec there are a number of interesting places and heritage sites in the history of which hops have played or still play the starring role. These include the Hop and Beer Temple, an entertaining and educational attraction that showcases the tradition of this world-famous hop region. And if you fancy getting a bird’s-eye view of the town, you can go up the Hop Lighthouse, a unique viewing tower. It is also worth seeing the Hop Astronomical Clock, a clock face featuring the twelve signs of the zodiac and portraying the hop year. Another attraction definitely worth checking out is the unique Renaissance malt-house with its malting exhibition and gallery, and don’t miss the Hop Museum, which boasts the biggest hop exhibition in the world.