Life of Pi: The story behind Pěkný číslo beer

Tuesday, 14 March 2023 12:01

March 14 is Pi Day, a day of celebrating mathematics worldwide. At Charles University, that means a pretty good reason to try either Slušné or Pěkný číslo referring to successful new beer brands referencing Pi that were thought up at the Faculty of Mathematics and Physics. The beers are made at the Ferdinand Brewery in Benešov, southeast of Prague.

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Pi is famously the ratio of the circumference of any circle to the diameter of that circle. Regardless of the circle's size, this ratio will always equal pi. In decimal form, the value of pi is approximately 3.14. At Charles University, it is also the name of two brand name beers – Slušné and Pěkný číslo – non-alcoholic and alcoholic beers, respectively. The beers are the result of a competition at the faculty and a pretty cool idea. The beers are available at the university’s cafeterias and canteens and Forum even recently visited Ferdinand brewery where the beer is made.

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Master brewer Jaroslav Lebeda says the CU beers owe their taste to a mix of American and Czech hops.

Once upon a time in Benešov

There is only a huge roar where no actual words can be heard. But then, there is little need to speak. Everyone working at the Benešov plant knows what to do. The line where the bottles are filled with Slušné číslo, a non-alcoholic beer brewed not only for the cafeterias and canteens of Charles University by Pivovar Ferdinand in Benešov, is run by just a few staff. They make sure that nothing goes to waste and that the bottles are all properly sealed and labelled... Perfection. Within just 20 minutes, six thousand bottles of beer are ready to be sent to consumers at CU!

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“Slušňák”, as the brewery calls Slušné číslo, is the younger brother of “Pěkňák”, the alcoholic beer named Pěkný číslo. Both are pretty nice numbers. The idea of brewing an original beer began almost as a joke amongst Faculty of Mathematics and Physics students who liked going out for πvO (read "pi-v-O") when they weren’t crunching numbers or preparing for exams. The linguistic and mathematical pun as well as a taste for good brew inspired then Vice-Dean at the faculty (now Vice-Rector for Public Relations) Martin Vlach and colleagues to back the development of a worthy recipe inspired by Ludolph's number. Together with the Research Institute of Brewing and Malting they developed a beer fit not only for the faculty or school but all beer lovers.

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A very interesting beer

The subsequent recipe of the non-alcoholic Slušné číslo was equally inspired by Pi. “American Mosaic hops and Czech Kazbek hops are used, with a scent of citrus and tropical fruit. The wine yeast gives the beer an original taste. Combined with the fragrant undertones from the hops, it makes for an interesting beer,” brewer Jaroslav Lebeda told Forum magazine. Did we mention that we wholeheartedly agree?

if you haven’t tried it yet, now you have an opportunity: March 14 is an excellent reason! Happy Pi Day and enjoy! And, as always, please drink responsibly.

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Author: Helena Zdráhalová
Photo: Vladimír Šigut

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