The brewery in Vratislavice nad Nisou/Liberec in northern Bohemia at the border triangle with Germany and Poland was partially destroyed by a major fire on Monday morning. The fire broke out at around four in the morning in the old malt house that stems from the 19th century and spread over two floors and the roof structure. The fire department was able to control the flames after about two hours. The extinguishing work lasted over six hours in total.
Two firefighters were slightly injured during the operation and taken to a hospital. The police have so far been unable to provide any information about the cause of the fire. The director of the brewery, Petr Hostaš, suspects a fault in the electrical system as the cause.
He told Czech Television that the fire would not endanger production. Around 300 tons of malt have been destroyed, about half of the total inventory. "Fortunately, we still have stock that was not affected by this fire," Hostaš said. The damage will amount to several million Czech crowns (CZK 1 million = USD 42,000) according to him. The destroyed malt alone is valued at about 3 million Czech crowns (USD 116,000).
The Vratislavice Brewery was inaugurated in January 1874. After the end of the socialist regime in the 1990s, it employed 400 people and produced almost half a million hectoliters of beer a year. In 1997, the company became part of Pražské Pivovary (in 2003 renamed into Pivovary Staropramen and since 2012 part of Molson Coors) and a year later production in Vratislavice ended and production of Vratislav was transferred to Prague.
After a two-year dormancy the company was bought by company Hols, and resumed production a year later. Since the old beer brand had been sold, the new owners had to create a new brand and named the beer after the successor of Prince Wrocław - Konrad.
Around 50 employees currently work in the company. In 2018, the output was around 140,000 hectoliters. Last year the brewery inaugurated a new CZK 70 million (USD 2.9 million) can filling plant with a capacity of 15,000 cans per hour. For last year the brewery expected to increase the sale of beer in cans from 2.500 hl in 2018 to about 25,000 to 30,000 hl in 2019. Cans become increasingly popular in the Czech Republic but are also well suited for export. After testing plastic bottles a few years ago, the company refrained from doing so because plastic is not suited for packaging beer according to the brewery.