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Vysočanský Brewery

One of Prague’s oldest breweries stands in Freyová Street. The Land Register of 1749 does not mention the brewery; therefore it is assumed the brewery was founded after that date. In one of the old documents it says that through an exchange contract dated 1 June 1860 the Dominican Monastery of St. Giles in Prague obtained an Endowment House with a brewery in Vysočany bearing the number 1. From this text it is clear that the brewery existed long before that. The Dominicans kept the brewery under their direction and let it out.


In 1883, the brewer Karel Spurný leased the brewery and a year later he added a malting floor and malt-kiln, a cellar, stables and living rooms. In 1887 he received official authorisation to conduct the trade of an innkeeper in house no. 1 in Vysočany. After two years this inn was given permission to use a pressure pump. Karel Spurný held the innkeeper licence until his death on 23 July 1939. However, he didn’t run the inn personally, Antonin Houfek ran the restaurant for him.


On 20 June 1889 the Commercial Register of the Commercial Court in Prague had an entry on the company “Karel and Rudolf Spurný, a brewery in Vysočany near Prague”. The business side of the brewery was run by the older brother Karel, the younger, Rudolph, did the actual brewing. Rudolf, however, died at a relatively young age. For a while one of the brewery’s associates was the maltster Karel Němota, from 1883 - 1885 the position of associate was taken by Albert Pilát, who probably financed the company’s reconstruction.
Karel Spurný was known not only as a skilled professional but also for the fact that in 1896 he and Karel Němota filed a patent for a monitoring device for measuring the wort in the brewing kettles. Both the Austrian authorities and the Bulgarian State were interested in this patent. Spurný was a frequent delegate and representative of the various meetings concerning brewing interests and the interests of small breweries held at the Ministry of Finance in Vienna. He also wrote a series of treatises and articles, was a member of the Committee Vysočany Credit Bank in Karlín and a member of the Civil Credit Bank in Karlín.


On 6 May 1908, Karel Spurný bought the brewery, the garden, another plot, a pasture and a pond from the Dominicans for 180,000 crowns and started running it himself. Vysočanský brewery was originally a hand run brewery, when Spurný leased it he ran it on steam and a power drive. A single brew would come to 50 hl. Next to the brewery was a large brewery garden, surrounded by a high wall. In the garden was a pond, into which a branch of the River Rokytka flowed. In the winter the pond supplied ice, which could be conveniently stored directly into the brewery ice house, so icing was very cheap. Part of the garden was landscaped in the manner of an English park, in another part many beautiful conifers and fruit trees were planted; in the middle of the garden was a large hexagonal pavilion and a brick building, where a puppet theatre played at the time. Prague residents would come here on a trip, there were even special trains to take them and on Sundays and holidays, there would be long lines of carriages in front of the garden to transport visitors to and fro. In the garden they would put on great shows and the beer flowed in vast amounts. The brewery’s former sub-maltster, Jaroslav Zajíček, spoke of Karl Spurný and his brother Rudolf and the shows they put on. He remembers one day, when they brewed a renowned dark lager that was too strong and was the cause of some rather unfortunate events: during the festivities organised by an association of butchers one of the butchers “hurled a glass at one of his adversaries with such force that he fell dead on the spot”. Mr. Zajíček added that “the people in the garden had never left so quickly as after this incident”. The garden also had a veranda and winter halls, where dances would be organised.