History of Brewing in Vyšší Brod

Brewer brewing beer, historical drawing Beer in the Middle Ages was regarded not only as a drink but also as a relatively cheap and filling form of food. At the beginning, beer was brewed at home, a simple brewing utensil was a saucepan or a caldron.

The brewery in the Cistercian Vyšší Brod Monastery is mentioned for the first time in 1830, the beer was brewed by the monks themselves. In the first half of the 15th century, the monastery brewers Mikuláš, Jakub and Friedrich are mentioned. On August 24, 1524, the abbot from Vyšší Brod, Christopher Knoll, gave with the approval of Jan von Rosenberg, a privilege to the burgers and settlers of the township of Vyšší Brod, in which the fifth paragraph states, that in the villages within a half of a mile distance, that belong to the church, no-one is allowed either to sell beer or produce malt. They can brew beer only for their own consumption.

The citizens of Rožmberk nad Vltavou made malt and brewed beer from 1379 and in 1514 Jan von Rosenberg confirmed this privilege again. We do not know exactly when the brewery in Rožmberk was established, but it was towards the end of the 14th century.

The original anarchy of home brewing, when every citizen brew beer in their house, as much as they wanted, was replaced by a strict regulation. The right to brew was one of the economic privileges of the burgers. Its profitability was secured by the so-called "Mile Law" legislation, which prevented the setting up of malt houses, breweries and tap rooms in certain areas around the town, which did not belong to the burgers or the landlords. Up to 1479, the legal brew masters had only to return regular amounts and payments (fees for brewing and drawing beer, dues from the pubs, and taxes for offering beer for sale), afterwards the state council made a rule that even the landlords had to have permission for brewing beer. The payments from the brewing industry were welcomed into the Rožmberk and Cistercian treasuries. Therefore they did not prevent the burgers from supplying beer to their villages, but on the opposite, they ordered the serfs to take only their beer, and the serfs could not consume beer produced somewhere else.

A pint of beer (roughly a litre) cost two hellers; there were fourteen hellers in a groshen. A loaf of bread or 14 eggs also cost two hellers. Also wine was roughly the same price at that time.

Mostly there was brewed dark beer from barley, in the monastery brewery they brewed also "white beer" from wheat for the abbot and special visitors.

Zlatá Koruna school, classroom aid from 18th century, picture of beer production

When Wilhelm von Rosenberg took over the rule of his estates, he started to enforce estate beer. In 1561 Michal Břeský from Ploskovice was told to look after the Rožmberk breweries, and in 1569 Jakub Krčín of Jelčany and Sedlčany prepared brewing regulations, in order to prevent profiteering of the officers of the estate from inconsistent supervision of the landlords. He also continually increased the taxes on brewing, until it became necessary to pay for "white brews 300 groshen every year". After the death of Wilhelm, his brother and successor Peter Wok von Rosenberg, changed the taxes from brewing. From each barrel, which contained 248 litres, the breweries paid six Meissen kreutzers. In 1608 Peter Wok also renewed and extended the privileges of the town of Vyšší Brod. The sixth paragraph, concerning beer, states: "Further on, to the end of time, councillors and burgers of our town of Vyšší Brod, can brew red and white beer, also make malt and sell beer as they wish, without any interference from us, or those who will come after us, neither the abbot nor the prior will complain. Off course (with the exception of the monastery) nobody will have the right to make malt or beer up to a half of a mile distance from our monastery." During the rule of Peter Wok von Rosenberg, the rebuilding of the deteriorating brewery in Rožmberk took place.

In 1628 the lords of the Buquoy family increased the tax per barrel from the original six Meissen groshen to eight without taking into consideration the protests from the burgers.

There were great conflicts between abbott Johan IV Clavey from Vyšší Brod, and duke Johann Christian I. von Eggenberg, mainly because of the castle breweries in Krumlov and Černá. On June 23, 1669 the duke gave an order to the serfs to take beer only from the estate brewery. Because the monastery did not like this order, they appealed in Praha and to the emperor. The brewery from the Skláře monastery near Hořice na Šumavě, produced 3,625 barrels of beer from 1651, and the closure of this brewery would mean a lower income for the monastery. The duke's reply was, that he had all the equipment in the brewery in Skláře demolished, during the night between December 6th and 7th. In the 18th century the monastery was still in a conflict with the Eggenbergs regarding places of selling their beer in the South Bohemian villages.

At the beginning of the 18th century the biggest brewery in the region of Vyšší Brod was still the monastery brewery in Vyšší Brod, which in one brew made 13 barrels and in 1712 altogether 489 barrels. The second biggest as to the number of barrels, was the brewery of the lords of the Buquoy family in Rožmberk, then the town breweries in Rožmberk, in Frymburk, and Vyšší Brod. In total there were 26 breweries in the county region of Český Krumlov, which brewed 25,701 hectolitres of beer in the year 1712.

Further information:
History of Taverns and Pubs in the Český Krumlov Region
History of Brewing in Český Krumlov
Pubs in Vyšší Brod
Beer and breweries in Vyšší Brod