Czech brewers put trendy pubs on faucet to court docket hipster crowd .

PRAGUE (Reuters) – For generations, Czechs have consumed world-beating volumes of beer within the smoky, wood-panelled rooms of their native pubs, all however indistinguishable from one another bar the model of lager flowing from the faucets.

A bartender prepares glasses of beer within a brand new conceptual pub by Plzensky Prazdroj (Pilsner Urquell) brewery known as Plzenka in Prague, Czech Republic, Could 6, 2019. REUTERS/David W Cerny

However tastes are altering.

Czechs are more and more shunning fusty previous watering holes and draft beer gross sales are sliding, so the world-famous brewers of pilsner need to inject some pizzazz into the normal pub and appeal to youthful patrons in search of a hip, trendy really feel.

“I don’t remember the last time I was in a traditional Czech pub,” stated Marcel, a 35-year-old IT employee sipping a beer in Prague’s upcoming Karlin neighborhood which is full of stylish bars, cafes and eating places.

Individuals like Marcel are the sorts of drinkers with disposable revenue that breweries akin to Plzensky Prazdroj, the maker of Pilsner Urquell, are looking for to lure again with new idea bars designed to recharge the normal Czech pub.

The brewery, owned by Japan’s Asahi, plans to open its first “Pilsnerka” bar catering to the hipster crowd within the capital Prague within the coming months. It additionally plans to launch about 20 pubs this yr tied to different beers in its portfolio akin to Kozel, the corporate stated.

The designs put extra emphasis on house and lighter supplies to create a brighter pub environment that the corporate hopes will enchantment to the youthful technology, in addition to ladies and households.

Two-thirds of the beer drunk by Czechs is now consumed at house, a determine that has grown steadily since 2003. With margins on grocery store gross sales far decrease than for draft beer, getting folks again into pubs is seen as key for the breweries.

“Consumers are changing so this is a big opportunity to bring something new to the market,” stated Tomas Mraz, gross sales director at Plzensky Prazdroj.

“When you go to a standard pub you might get an old guy serving you beer. With the new concept you are more likely to get somebody young with tattoos serving the beer,” he stated.

DEMANDING MORE

Since 2009, Czechs have consumed extra beer at house than in pubs, in line with the Czech Beer and Malt Affiliation. Final yr, pub gross sales hit their lowest stage in at the least 1 / 4 of a century after declining steadily from a peak in 2003.

“Breweries are going all out to make their draft beers and pubs attractive to younger consumers who have many more choices these days,” stated Martina Ferencova, who heads the Czech Beer and Malt Affiliation.

The Czech Republic nonetheless leads the world in beer consumption, downing 141 liters per particular person per yr, however the shift away from consuming in pubs is an issue for brewers because the margins on bottled beer drunk at house are far decrease.

“Breweries are investing in new pub concepts primarily due to the annual decline in on-trade, draft beer,” stated Ferencova. “Shoppers are additionally demanding extra.

Moreover the shift to house consuming, partly boosted by a ban on smoking in 2017, conventional pubs are additionally up in opposition to extra wine and cocktail bars favored by some youthful drinkers.

A brand new digital ordering system launched in 2016 to trace gross sales – and ensure pubs and eating places paid all taxes due – additionally compelled numerous pubs to go underneath.

At the moment, round 65 p.c of the beer offered within the Czech Republic is in shops, a determine on the rise and one Prazdroj and different breweries consider will proceed to extend.

With home consumption tepid, breweries have appeared to overseas markets to offset declines at house and exports jumped practically 12 p.c in 2018. However getting Czechs again to the pub stays key, beer makers and business officers say.

“I don’t want to sit down on golden chairs or previous carved creaky furnishings,” stated Zdenek Borecky whereas sipping a beer at one in all Prazdroj’s new “Plzenka” pubs which hew extra intently to custom than the Pilsnerka idea being rolled out this yr.

BRANDED RESTAURANTS

It’s not simply the massive manufacturers trying to showcase their beers within the pub, the place breweries say they will current their merchandise finest to prospects.

Native brewery Bernard stated reductions and promotions have been boosting gross sales in supermarkets however turning bottled beers into unprofitable merchandise.

In consequence, it and different small breweries are specializing in promoting beer in branded eating places and launching idea bars.

The brewery has seven branded pubs and is trying to broaden exterior the Czech Republic with a location in Slovakia. Additionally it is launching a extra trendy design known as Bernard Bar within the capital Prague and two different Czech cities in 2019.

“Every economically strong brewery is trying to build branded restaurants because it is a direct way to reach customers,” stated Ales Pavlik, Bernard brewery’s head of franchising.

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More and more demanding customers and a shifting beer panorama can be spurring Staropramen, the pioneer of the nation’s first branded pub, to department out from its Potrefena Husa chain launched 20 years in the past to showcase its beers.

Staropramen, which is owned by Molson Coors and now has 45 pubs linked to 4 of its manufacturers, is engaged on a brand new bar idea however declined to enter additional particulars.

“Consumers are more demanding than before, they have less time and once they decide to visit a pub or restaurant they expect a certain standard,” stated Jan Trochta, head of the corporate’s branded pub division.

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Anatolia Raspatovina

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