History of the Research Institute of Brewing and Malting

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Research Institute of Brewing and Malting continues in the long tradition reaching as far back as the second half of the 19th century, when beer brewing gradually changed from traditional craft to industrial production.

Until then the beer production in numerous small breweries was empirical and the brewing science was only just beginning. Its foundations were laid at the end of the 18th century by the reformist brewer František Ondřej Poupě (1753-1805), who introduced for instance the use of thermometer into brewery practice. In 1794 he wrote and published the treatise „Die Kunst des Bierbrauens“ and, in 1801,  in Czech the book „Počátkové základného naučení o Waření piwa pro učedlníky, towaryše, sládky a pro každého hospodáře, kterýž té wěcy dokonale wyučen býti žádá. Poupě’s work was continued by Karel Josef  Napoleon Balling (1805-1868), professor of chemistry at the Prague Technical University, who studied, among other matters, also fermentation chemistry, introduced saccharometer into brewing practice and published the treatise „Die Gärungschemie“ in 1844.

With the development of scientific knowledge and brewery engineering, beer brewing was undergoing a fast transition to a branch of industry. This transition was considerably affected by the change in beer brewing from top to bottom fermentation, which became especially intensive after 1850. The brewery boom in the 60s of the 19th century initiated the efforts to establish and found a society protecting the interests of brewers and the training of experts in the field. Among the progress-minded brewers was Jan Michael Schary (1824-1881), a graduate of the brewers’ school in Weihenstephan and owner of the Na Slovanech brewery in Prague New Town. Together with Ferdinand Urban (1825-1879), owner of the U Herrmanů brewery in the Prague Lesser Town and Association of Prague Brewers he founded in 1869 and financially supported the 1st public malting school.

The year 1873 witnessed the foundation of Association for Brewing Industry in the Czech Kingdom, which had among its aims also the establishment of a brewing research station in Prague. In the same year, Antonín Stanislav Schmelzer (1844-1902), a teacher at the Malting School, founded and published at his own expense the journal Kvas (Ferment), which became on official journal of the Association. Personal disputes led J. M. Schary to founding in 1878 a  new journal Český sládek (Czech Brewer), which replaced Kvas as a new official journal of the Association. The editor of Český sládek, Josef Tomáš Suk (1842-1878), stressed in his editorial that the journal would pay close attention to the Malting School  and the establishment of the research station. The journal ceased to exist in 1880 and Kvas became again the official journal of the Association. In 1883 Karel Tiller (1848-1918), a teacher at the Malting School, founded the journal Brewery Letters as a competing brewers’ forum.  In 1879 the Association established a laboratory in which routine beer analyses and measurements could be done and microscopy was taught. At the same time the establishment of Austrian Brewing Research Institute was being prepared in Vienna.

The 1st Itinerant Convention of the Association for Brewing Industry, organized in 1885 in České Budějovice, made an important step towards founding the research institute. A collection for its establishment yielded 1600 florins within half an hour. Antonín Bělohoubek (1845-1910), professor of fermentation chemistry, who headed the founding committee, elaborated the constitution of the Union for Establishment and Maintenance of Research Institute for Brewing Industry, which was officially approved on 1 August 1886. The members of the committee were Richard Jahn (1840-1918), a co-owner of a company producing brewery machinery, Josef Kašpar (1833-1907), owner of the v Práčích brewery, Josef Klička (1832-1893), representative of the Association of Prague Brewers, Karel Urban (1855-1940), representative of the Association for Brewing Industry, and representatives of the journals Kvas (Ant. St. Schmelzer) and Brewery Letters (Karel Tiller). Like the existing institutes in Denmark (Carlsberg), Munich and Berlin, the institute should contribute to advances in brewing industry and the long-standing Czech malting by conducting research and practical tests. Apart from research work the institute should perform analyses of raw materials and products, produce pure yeast cultures and provide both theoretical and practical assistance to breweries and malting facilities, organize lectures on professional problems and conduct chemical-physiological training courses.

On 19 December 1886, a general assembly that convened on the premises of the Malting School Na Perštýně, Prague, founded the Union for Establishment and Maintenance of Research Institute for Brewing Industry in Prague. A meeting of the management of the Union taking place on 24 June 1887 decided on establishing the positions of an administrator and an assistant and on starting the activities on 1 October 1887.  At the beginning of December the Institute already resided at Senovážné Square 871/26 in Prague. The institute premises included three rooms and a kitchen. One room was an office, one was furnished as a chemical laboratory, and the third served as physiological laboratory. Official opening took place at the beginning of 1888. A total of 108 analyses were performed already in Januaryand the first pure yeast culture was produced in February. Together with the basic assets, the income in 1887 was 7097.02 florins and total expenditures were 4034.43 fl. (furniture 940.80 fl., instrumentation 2075.85 fl., library 5.50 fl.). The first course in microscopy was organized in July 1888.

The first director was Antonín Kukla (1858-1910), the first assistant Jaroslav Šula (1865-1927).

In 1891 the Institute took part in the Anniversary Exhibition in Prague. The exhibits included a portable brewer’s laboratory, iodine method (for malt saving), certificates, pure yeast and mural posters. Information about the activities of the institute was regularly published in the Kvas journal and the Institute also published its newsletters in the form of notebooks. The first notebook, which appeared in 1889, contained the articles by the director A. Kukla “This year’s hazy beers”, “Expert opinion on the spreading of hops” (together with J. Klička), “On the quality of this year’s barley”, “Czech malts 1888”, “Large scale propagation of pure yeast”, and a treatise by J. Šula “Proposal of guidelines for trade with brewery raw materials”. Further notebooks followed in the next year. In 1892 the Institute was awarded a gold medal by the Association for Brewing Industry. At this time the institute staff included, apart from the director and three assistants, also 3-5 trainees.

In 1893 the Institute moved to new premises at Pštrossova street 1762/5  in Prague New Town.

 In 1895 it was reorganized and František Chodounský (1845-1924) was appointed director in July 1896.

In the same year, the director of the Copenhagen  institute Alfréd Jørgensen donated to the Institute a collection of microbial cultures. In April 1897 the Institute moved to new premises in the White Swan brewery on the Na Poříčí street 1068/21, where it stayed the next 40 years. The Union purchased for the Institute a propagation station for cultivation of pure yeast cultures, which started its operation in 1898 in  the Shareholder’s brewery in Prague-Smíchov. In 1901, Jan Šatava (1878-1938) was appointed assistant of the Institute. The institute staff were engaged in laboratory experiments, teaching and publishing their results. In 1903 the General assembly discussed the building of a Brewer’s House.

In 1905 Jan  Šatava left the Institute and was replaced by Vladimír Čihák (1864-1931), a chemist and brewer.

The year 1908 saw a regular publication of Institute research works in the Newsletter of the Research Institute for Brewing Industry. Further efforts were made to merge the Institute and the Malting School, and a proposal was put forward to found a Brewing College. The College was established at the Institute in 1910/1911; this meant the end of the chemical-physiological courses that have taken place since 1895. In 1912 The Ministry of Public Labor granted the Institute the right to issue certificates in the field of brewing and malting.

Another re-organization took place in summer 1914; this terminated the activities of both schools, the Union and also the Research Institute. The constituent general assembly that took place on 13 September 1914 established a new organization, the Society for Maintenance of Research Institutes for Brewing Industry in Prague. The first chairman of the Society was the oldest member of the Union, the founding member of the Association for Brewing Industry, brewer and the director of the Protivín brewery Bohuš Svoboda (1848-1922), the head of the director’s office was Adolf Bayer (1859-1929), head brewer of the burgher’s brewery in Pilsen. The secretary of the Society was Dr. Josef Fr. Hrach (1863-1936), director of all 12 Schwarzenberg breweries. As of 1 October 1914 the Research Institute, the schools and the Society laboratory were renamed Research Institutes of Brewing in Prague and resided at the Na Poříčí street 1068/21.  The Ministry of Public Labor endorsed the transfer of authorization to the new institute. One of the researchers of the Institute was Alois Stádník (1884-1935).

During the World War I the brewing schools were closed down owing to the shortage of students and the activities of the Institute were directed at the use of malt surrogates (sugar, potato flour, maize, sugar beet, sorghum, couch-grass). After World War I and the formation of Czechoslovakia the Research Institutes for Brewing Industry had to wrestle with the shortage of funding. The teaching in the Brewing College started in January 1919 and in the Brewing School in February of the same year. In September 1919 the Brewing School was renamed to Lower Brewing School and the publication of Brewery Letters was stopped also in 1919.  The total number of students in the brewing schools at the end of 1920 was 110. A voluntary tax introduced by the Brewing Committee as an aid for the research institutes brought 1.3 million Crowns in 1919-1921 destined for the building of a new seat of the Institute. This meant an extension of research activities.

In January 1920 Vladimír Čihák published in Kvas an article concerning the intended foundation of an Institute of MaltingBrno. He argued that within Czechoslovakia there is a place for only one institute, which should join the efforts of both brewers and malters for common benefits. Malt analyses have previously been performed in the Research Institutes of Brewing. The initiatives of Prof. František Ducháček (1875-1931) and Vladimír  Vavřín Žila (1889-1953) brought in August 1920  the establishment of the State Institute of Fermentation Industry at the Technical University in Brno. Its department of malting (Institute of Malting) started its activities in autumn 1921. In 1927, F. Ducháček and F. Měšťan published the treatise Malting Analyses.

The activities of the Research Institutes of Brewing in the 20s were successful and were directed more at research work headed by Prof. Isaev from the Technical University and by Alois Stádník. In 1927 the Institutes started publishing independent periodical publications on the results of the research work of the Institutes and cooperating researchers.  The first publication that appeared in the Brewery Almanac was “Scientific basis of modern brewing” by J. F. Hrach, the second volume contained the article alois_stadnik“On maltase” by Prof. V. Isaev. The Institutes received a state subsidy of 500 000 Crowns in support of their research and teaching activities.  Another issue of the Brewery Almanac published in 1929 contained the article “New methods of hops evaluation” by A. Stádník. The number of analyses and tests performed in 1929 was 4079 and the maintenance fund reached a sum of 2.3 million Crowns.

The long-standing director of the Institute, Vladimír Čihák, died in 1931 and Alois Stádník (1884-1935) was appointed acting director with a limited tenure.

Jan Šatava (1878-1938), a university professor of fermentation chemistry, was appointed director in 1932.

On 23 April 1933 the general assembly empowered the Institute management to finance the erection of a new building. The fourth issue of Brewery Almanac  published in this year  featured the treatise “A study of hopping” by A. Stádník.

On 17 May 1936 the management of Research Institutes of Brewing accepted the proposal of a purchase, together with the Protective Union of Breweries in Bohemia, of a house at the intersection of the Ječná and Lípová 511/15 streets in Prague  2. The house should be demolished and in its place a Brewer’s House should be built that would serve the needs of both institutions. The house had formerly been called U Pokorných and before that U Sklenářů. In the 19th century it housed a popular garden restaurant that was mentioned in Ignát Herrmann’s  novel “Father Kondelík” or in the book “Where beer is brewed” by Vratislav Tůma. The house was originally surrounded by a large garden, which remained from the original large orchard between the Lípová and Salmovská streets that belonged to the count Kristián Filip Clam-Gallas. The orchard was abolished in 1868 when today’s Salmovská street was being built. As late as the 80s of the 19th century this area was a town periphery with two-storey houses with gardens. This era ended in 1897, when the second Prague electric tram line was built in the Ječná street. The printing house Lešinger was built at the site after 1918.

The old house U Pokorných was demolished in 1936 and the construction of the Brewer’s House was begun. The project was made by the architect Gustav Paul. Brewer’s House is a six-storey functional building with a short arcade. The construction of reinforced concrete was performed by the K. Skorkovský company, building and handicraft works by V. Nekvasil. The entrance is from the Lípová street, the carriageway from the Ječná street. The building was finished in April 1937 and became functional in 1938. The Institutes moved into the house in June and July. The extensive basement housed an exhibition room containing specimens of brewery machinery, instruments and appliances.  In the two upper floor were flats, in the ground floor were shops accessible from the street. The mezzanine housed offices, the first floor the premises of the Protective Union of Breweries in Bohemia, the second floor.

Jan Šatava died at the end of 1938 and Václav A. Kurz (1878-1953) became the director of the Institute.

The following political events, which led to the severing of the Sudetenland  and the Nazi occupation of the country in 1939, had an adverse effect on further activity of the Institutes. In 1940-1944 the journal Kvas was published in a Czech and a German version under the name Gambrinus; in 1944 its publication was completely stopped and so was the teaching activity. At the end of the war the building of the Institute was damaged in the Allies air raid of Prague in February 1945.

After the war the German head R. Brunner and other German staff left the Institutes.

Then the Institute was headed by the long-standing member of the Institutes, the hops expert Václav Salač (1899-1985).

During the following reorganization of the educational system in 1950, the teaching activity of the Institutes was terminated. The Prague Institute of Brewing was merged with the Brno Institute of Malting and a Pilsen facility to form the today’s Research Institute of Brewing and Malting.  In the after-war period the Institute was directly subordinated to the Ministry of Food Industry; in 1958 it was incorporated into the Association of Breweries and Malt-Houses and the Pilsen facility was abolished.

 In the same year, Jiří Maštovský (1904-1969), the head engineer of the Supreme Management of Breweries and Malt-Houses, became the head of the Institute. Under his management a standard-elaborating group and a department of technical information was embodied in the Institute and, in 1960, also a brewing and malting facility in Bratislava.

In 1962 the Institute was extended to include an Experimental and Development Unit (EDU) in Prague-Braník and its management was taken over by Jiří Tarant (1918-1985), and in 1965 the Institute became part of the newly formed Prague Trust (later Syndicate) of Breweries and Malt-Houses.

The first female director of the Institute appointed in 1970 was the head of the Department of Microbiology of the Institute Olga Bendová, who headed the Institute until her appointment as a professor in 1978.

 Her successor was another lady - Gabriela Basařová. Under her management the Institute acquired a department of special analyses equipped by the then state-of-the-art instrumentation that was to be used mainly for checking the content of foreign substances in exported beer.

In 1982 also Gabriela Basařová was appointed professor at the Prague Institute of Chemical Technology and the management of the Institute was taken over by Jiří Cuřín, the long-standing head of the Experimental and Development Unit in Prague-Braník and an expert in the field of research into the sensorial properties of beer.

During this period the Institute underwent no major changes. Deep changes came only at the end of the 80s in connection with political changes. Jan Veselý was appointed the new director of the Syndicate of Breweries and Malt-Houses, which was still the governing body of the Institute, and immediately after 1989 the Syndicate was transformed into the Sate Enterprise Breweries and Malt-Houses, Research and Services.

In selection proceedings in 1991 the director of the Institute became its long-standing member Tomáš Lejsek.  In the first half of the 90s the whole enterprise was privatized to a PLC company; since 1994 it has again been renamed to Research Institute of Brewing and Malting (RIBM). At that time the Institute had two directors – the director general of the company Jan Veselý and the RIBM director Tomáš Lejsek, who was in charge of the research.

In 1995 Tomáš Lejsek left for the Velké Popovice brewery and the Institute was for a limited period headed by Vladimír Kellner, the head of the analytical department.

In the spring of 1996 the position of the director general of the PLC company was abolished and Karel Kosař, the head of the Brno part, who was appointed director of the whole institute, has been holding this position up to the present day.