Czech breweries turn from kegs to bottles as pub closures drain demand

No one drinks more beer.

Per person the Czechs are world beaters.

But the country was one of the first in Europe to implement strict social distancing rules.

Now its breweries are trying to limit the damage to business.

As bars go quiet they've stopped filling new kegs and are stashing unused ones in refrigerated cellars to keep them fresh.

The manager of the Pilsner Urquell Brewery, Petr Kofron, says alternative production lines are working flat out instead:

(SOUNDBITE) (Czech) PILSNER URQUELL BREWERY MANAGER, PETR KOFRON, SAYING:

"The production still goes on, all our breweries are producing beer. But the packaging of beer has changed as there is no more demand for pubs. What it means is that during the past two weeks the production of kegged beer has decreased rapidly. Bottled and canned beer production lines are working at full capacity."

Local bars haven't completely shut for business.

Instead they're embracing a new way of working in a bid to stay afloat.

(SOUNDBITE) (Czech) "LOKAL" PUB MANAGER, FRANTISEK STASTKA, SAYING:

"The word has spread around and our regular customers, people that used to come here for lunch and beer are now coming back to get a takeaway meal to their office. In the evening, they pick up draught beer in a plastic bottle to take home. That's how it works now."

But Czechs drink more of their beer in pubs compared to other nations, making the changes painful.

A report from the industry group representing small breweries warned a quarter could go bust due to the effects of the virus outbreak.