Bitter Days For Czech Brewers...And For The Pub Crawlers Of Prague

To be Czech, so the old song goes, you must drink Czech beer. And it's safe to say that as the nation with the highest annual beer consumption in the world (165 liters per person), the Czech Republic is in no danger of an identity crisis. But the beer, or pivo, being downed in local pubs these days may be. Some connoisseurs insist it tastes more American--such as from Idaho, a big producer of U.S. hops. In a cruel irony, the world-renowned Czech hops have become too costly for Czech brewers. With American, Japanese, and German demand driving up price, small and midsize Czech breweries are resorting to lesser-quality, low-cost U.S. hops.

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