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Big Czech Beer Book Offers Unique View of Our Beer and Brewing Tradition

Prague, November 26, 2008 – A new book mapping the past and present of Czech beer and brewing, Velká Zdeněk Susa and his bookčeská pivní kniha (The Big Czech Beer Book), has been presented to the public. Its author is MUDr. Zdeněk Susa, CSc., a renowned Czech pulmonologist. Dr. Susa’s 240-page book offers a host of interesting information, historical facts and new views of one of the oldest and most popular human pastimes in the territory of the modern-day Czech Republic. The book provides a rare take on the subject matter: Besides historical facts verified by study of archival materials and research conducted in breweries, it contains unconventional insights into beer and the brewing industry that have never before appeared in professional literature. Besides breweries that have closed down, Dr. Susa also maps those that still exist today but in which brewing has been stopped, as well as those that continue to operate and produce the most popular beverage both here at home and around the world. Augmented with unique photos, the book and will surely prove to be an enlightening read for all beer lovers.

In the book we find stories from Czech history, based on real people or events, where beer played an Zdeněk Susa and his new bookimportant role. Those are then rounded out and expanded with the help of mystification. In cases where facts could not be applied, the stories had to be enhanced by mystification and fabrication. The leap from application to mystification is small. The author makes no attempt to conceal his inspiration from the Czech master of mystification, Jára Cimrman. Whilst the mystification surrounding Cimrman’s story is one-hundred percent, Zdeňek Susa’s mystification is only partial.

“The book actually came about by coincidence. I was originally invited to a gathering of physicians, beer lovers associated in the Old Beer Club, to share my knowledge of beer,” says Zdeněk Susa. “And because I wanted to captivate them and offer a little fun and hyperbole, I focused on beer in monasteries in the territory of today’s Czech Republic from the historical perspective. The audience responded positively to the presentation, and so I began seeking more stories. My fondness for beer, as well as my passion for travel and interest in local history, all played a role. All of a sudden, a one-off speech turned into a lasting interest, which ultimately resulted in this publication,” the author explains.

“Dr. Susa’s book undoubtedly has a much broader field of view than it might seem at first glance,” observes Jan Veselý, executive director of the Czech Beer and Malt Association. “It definitely does not aim to compete with expert dissertation on beer and the brewing industry. Besides entertaining reading, however, it does educate readers on what beer actually is. It will indubitably please all those who see beer not only as their beloved ‘amber brew’ but also as something firmly entrenched in Czech society, both historically and today,” adds Mr. Veselý.

The book also contains views of medical professionals who discuss beer and its influence on human health. They support the opinion that, when the principles of moderate consumption are complied with, beer has a positive effect on health. Side by side, we find the opinions of internal medicine specialists and dermatologists, for example; nor does the author fail to address the issue of alcoholism, which can arise when we don’t follow the principles of moderate consumption.

Dr. Susa himself says with humor that his relationship to beer, which he discovered sometime during adolescence, is genetically determined, for his ancestors on both sides were involved in the brewing trade. Perhaps that contributed to beer becoming his favorite drink, a beloved hobby and the inspiration for study and literary work.

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