Beer Tourism Article

Pivovarský Dvůr Zvíkov

   
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Brewery

Run by some experienced brewers that have a deep understanding and appreciation for beer culture, Pivovarsky Dvur Zvikov is creating excellent beers that at the same time keep the Czech beer tradition, but also add something new and innovative. Using the highest quality ingredients, precise brewing methods and advanced technology, Pivovarsky Dvur Zvikov offers visitors a chance to combine beer, nature, and history. Located in one the Czech Republic’s most scenic areas, Pivovarsky Dvur Zvikov is just a few hundred meters from the historic castle of Zvikov and the conjunction of the Otava and Vltava Rivers.

Beginning in 1993, Zvikov first brewed typical Czech lagers, and naturally moved on to dark lagers. Next, they made a bit of Czech beer history, and became the first brewery to brew top fermented Belgian style beers. At first, people were apprehensive about Zvikov’s adventure into uncharted beer territory; but as you can see today, top fermented ales are becoming more and more popular, and Czech ales now compete with the world’s best.

Zvikov uses a variety of technology and brewing processes. They use a typical Czech style decoction method. Beginning with mashing their barley, they create a liquid using natural enzymes. The temperature is increased step by step, and the liquid is filtered. Next, hops are added. Timing is extremely important during this step. Zvikov uses 7 different types of hops, and they even grow their own ‘Saaz’ hops, which create an intense bitterness, common to many Czech lagers. There are even some hops still growing on Zvikov’s grounds which are from the 17th century, when the brewery was located in Zvikov castle. The brewing process continues, along with adding wort, cooling down the liquid, adding more water and oxygen, until finally you’re at the fermentation stage.

An 11° beer takes 60 days to lager, and a 13° beer takes 90 days. The longest fermentation is Zvikov’s 26° ‘Golden Swan’ which lagers for 3 months, and then rests in a cellar for 12- 14 months. After the fermentation, the beer starts to lager, where fermentation continues, carbonation is added, as well as more sediments.

Zvikov uses 3 different kinds of yeast for their beer; one for a typical Czech lager, a different for a wheat beer, and another variety for their IPAs and stouts. For their IPAs, they use American hops, and uniquely enough, they grow their own yeast. All of Zvikov’s beers are unfiltered and unpasteurized.



Hotel

Pivovarsky Dvur Zvikov is also a convenient and cozy hotel with 15 rooms. The rooms are clean, simple, have a private bathroom, TV, and wifi. There are special rates for children, pets are welcome, and they can help you arrange outdoor excursions and sporting events. There are also 2 fully equipped conference rooms, and they can host company events and family celebrations, such as weddings, as well. For a small fee they serve breakfast from 8-10. The hotel staff was extremely helpful, kind, and pleasant on our visit.


Activities

With one of the Czech Republic’s most beautiful castles, scenic hiking and cycling trails, and amazing beer- you can’t go wrong visiting Zvikov. Also, you don’t have to go on a tour- you simply pay an entrance fee and you’re free to roam around enjoy the views at your own pace.

Zvikov castle, which is perched above where the Otava and Vltava rivers meet, was most likely founded in the 13th century, at the end of King Premysl Otakar I rule. During the middle ages Zvikov continued to be strategically important to Czech nobility. Charles IV renovated this castle, and here the crown jewels were stored during the construction of Karlsteijn. After this, the castle lost some of its distinction, and changed often between the noble families of the Rozmberks and Svamberks. Beer brewing began long ago within the castle walls, and was highly valued. It’s even said that the town executioner was paid in barrels of beer if he delivered a good execution.

During the Hussite wars, Zvikov was besieged by the Taborites, but was never captured. Even during the Thirty Years War, Zvikov’s excellent fortification system enabled the defenders to resist aggression. However, during the 1600’s, the castle was sacked. Since then, noble families have continuously renovated and protected the castle, which explains its excellent condition today. 

The forests around Zvikov are full of well marked hiking and cycling trails. The area is quite rugged, with a dense variety of trees, and some of the trails can be quite challenging. We’d recommend buying a hiking/cycling map of the region before you begin your journey. If you need to rent bicycles, ask at the reception, and they’ll direct you to a person in the village who rents bikes.

Not far from the Castle Zvikov is another famous castle, Orlik. Getting there by bike is possible, and if you’re an adventurous hiker, it’s also feasible….but there is a quicker, more scenic way to travel- boat. A few times a day, a boat travels between the two castles; you can find the times at the ticket booth to the castle.

Not far away from Zvikov is the charming little town of Pisek, which is a pleasant place to also visit. Pisek has the Czech Republic’s oldest stone bridge, dating from the 13th century, and also has a historic malt house, which was used in the middle ages for malting barely. It’s a quiet little town, with some interesting architecture, restaurants, and some cultural activities.

 


Restaurant/Pub

With 10 beers on tap, great Czech food, friendly service, and a lively atmosphere, Zvikov’s Brewery restaurant is a great place to experience the finest of Czech culture. Located just 20 minutes from the famous castle, Pivovarsky Dvur Zvikov is renowned throughout the country for their fine food and beer, and also as a convenient and fun stop for hikers, cyclists, and other tourists.
Their menu serves a wide variety of traditional Czech dishes prepared fantastically. Serving typical dishes like goulash, svickova (beef in a cream sauce), or tartasky biftek (tartar steak), as well as chicken, pork, beef, and deer- any carnivore would be happy. We tried the pork steak with barley sauce (chmel) and the confit duck leg, which were both excellent. To go with your beer, there’s quite a few tasty snacks to choose from, such as onion rings, pickled cheese, and homemade potato chips with spicy cream sauce. Our favorite were the onion rings and homemade potato chips, both of which were served with a delicious spicy cream sauce.
At the time of our visit, the menu wasn’t available in English- but this wasn’t a problem. The staff were extremely helpful and friendly. 
Pivovarsky Dvur Zvikov has a huge restaurant- over 100 people can sit inside. In nice weather, you can sit in their roadside summer terrace, where they’ve got large wooden tables and an area for kids to play.


Town/Area

The town of Zvíkovské Podhradí is a tiny, quiet town in the region of south Bohemia. Surrounded by some of the most beautiful and well preserved forests in the Czech Republic, this town serves a good place to explore the hiking and bicycling trails. The main attractions are the Zvikov castle and Pivovarsky Dvur Zvikov, which are located on the northern edge of the town, close to where the Otava and Vltava rivers meet. There’s also another large hotel, with a sports center and restaurant, a few other pensions, and at least one more pub in the town.


Directions

Getting to Pivovarsky Dvur Zvikov can be a bit of a challenge- but it’s not to difficult to do, if you plan well. There are a number of different ways. Direct buses to the town of Zvíkovské Podhradí (the town where Pivovarsky Dvur Zvikov is located) leave Prague roughly twice a day. You can also go by bus to Pisek, a neighboring larger town, and then change buses for Zvikov. It’s not possible to reach Zvikov by train, but it is possible to get to Pisek by train, and then take a bus. By train, Pisek is about 2.5 hours from Prague, and Zvíkovské Podhradí is about 30 minutes from Pisek.

In the town of Zvíkovské Podhradí, there are 2 bus stops. One is centrally located, (map link), and when you get off the bus, just walk straight ahead, and you’ll see some signs for Zvikov Brewery. If you take a direct bus from Zvíkovské Podhradí to Prague, you’ll use a different bus stop, located on the main road. 

Pivovarsky Dvur Zvikov’s official website: http://www.pivovar-zvikov.cz/


Travel links (Czech Republic)

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Beers on Tap

Beer name Strength Brewery Style
Pivovarský Dvůr Zvíkov ° Zlatá labuť N/A
These are some of the different beers that Pivovarský Dvůr Zvíkov had on tap on our visit.

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