Session beer is a term used for beers that contain less alcohol and therefore can be consumed in larger quantities. When talking about session beer, it is impossible to avoid mentioning one person.
Michael Trnka is one of the most important figures in the history of Staropramen. Since he began working as the masterbrewer in 1877, the brewery made significant changes and important innovations that resulted in a huge increase in Staropramen’s performance. In the course of 28 years at the head of the brewery, Trnka increased the output tenfold to over half a million hectoliters of beer, a great achievement by any standard.
Although heavier beer styles were more popular at the time, Trnka went the opposite direction and created a new recipe for a lighter, 10° Plato beer. This turned out to be one of the most important innovations in Staropramen’s history. One thing that inspired the development of this beer was the fact that the Czech Republic was in the midst of a huge economic crisis that affected many areas of life, beer consumption included.
The main idea behind the beer was to offer a high-quality brew lower in alcohol, but still full of flavour. Desetka turned out to be spot-on. It was a beer characterized by a nicely balanced flavour and pleasantly mild bitterness. It quickly became a drink that offered its consumers many reasons to order another round. Despite the economic crisis, Desetka found its ways into people’s hearts and was widely recognized as a great beer by beer experts. In the late 19th century there were even opposing camps of beer lovers who were in favour of Desetka as opposed to the supporters of heavier beers.
The entire point of session beer is to avoid by all means brewing a watered down liquid. The true art is to bring out the most of flavour and aroma while keeping the alcohol volume low. Trnka, in a moment of pure ingenuity, created one of the most important recipes in our history. Nowadays, if you order just “beer” in Prague, chances are that you will be served a 10° beer in a big mug.