Thursday, May 05, 2005

May 5, 1945

The Day the United States Army saved Beer for the World
This month, there are many solemn remembrances marking the 60th Anniversary of the end of the Second World War. These are all just and important events. But today, the U.S. and Czech Republic mark another important event in the history of the war and in the history of beer. And what might you ask is this? Well, the liberation of Plzen in the Czech Republic. This is after all where the God’s of beer dwell when they grace the earth. No doubt about it, when you consider it’s the home of Pillsner Urquell brewery.

According to oskarku, when General Patton’s Third Army arrived in the town, the brewery was opened up, the barrels rolled out and the party began. It lasted a few days, until Patton had to pull back and let the Soviets into this zone.

But we know the citizens of Plzen never forgot who actually liberated their town, and today they celebrate with many U.S. veterans of the war. Here’s a little information on the liberation.

When I was a mere lad, I lived in then Czechoslovakia with my parents. Dad was gainfully employed at the U.S. Embassy in Prague. This was during the height of the Evil Empire days, when the Soviets held rough control over the Czechs and the U.S. was the enemy. We would often travel through Plzen on our way to Germany to shop for American foodstuffs, news, and what ever else we needed from the homeland. Plzen even then cherished its connections to the U.S., and held memories of May 1945 dear. I recall plaques commemorating the U.S. liberation, as well as memorials to American servicemen who were killed in the area. On several occasions, my paw would go there to lay a wreath.

This area of Bohemia is renowned for beer. For over 160 years Plzen has been famous for the production of Pilsner Urquell, light bottom-fermented lager beer, which I consider the real King of Beers. Some say it even has strong curative effects. I don’t know about that, but it makes me happy.


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