KBR to Pilsen, Czech Republic

For the 2022-2023 academic year, the Travel AgenCie, aka Old-COCo. organized a small trip outside the Netherlands with a duration of five days. The committee consists of four members: Xiaoyu as chairwoman, Melle as secretary, Chakshu as treasurer and Mario as logistics. During the organization of the trip, we had a lot of fun and struggle! Fortunately, we made the trip happen in the end! The destination for this year is Pilsen, Czech Republic from March 22nd to 26th.

By Xiaoyu Ciao

On the first day in Pilsen, we visited the Faculty of Applied Sciences at the University of Western Bohemia. The faculty offers programmes and does research in physics, mathematics, mechanics, cybernetics, geomatics, information technologies and civil engineering [1]. The faculty showed their current research in materials and the applied equipment. In the afternoon, we visited the Faculty of Chemical Engineering at the University of Chemistry and Technology in Prague. The department has twelve research groups, we visited the Process and System Engineering Laboratory. The lab tour was presented by Lukas Valenz, he focuses on the research of mass transfer in packed absorption and distillation column. During the lab tour, he showed us some equipment such as the packed bed rectification station [2], the column is designed to be 3m in height and it is equipped with an 8-channel IR spectrometer which enables online measurement of the concentration in liquid and/or vapour along the column. Additionally, Lukas also showed us the absorption station, the agitation station and the stirred-tank reactor that are used for research.

After a full schedule on day 1, the second day in Pilsen is rather relaxing. In the morning, we visited the West Bohemia Museum. The museum has four exhibitions, each one with a completely different theme: Municipal Armoury, Archaeology Exposition, History Exposition, and Collection of applied arts. We visited all of them and had a little cultural tour of Pilsen and the rest of the world. Apart from the activities scheduled by the committee, there were free times for our travellers to visit the city and enjoy the view from Saint Bartholomew’s Cathedral. Fortunately, the city municipal organized a “blik blik” festival which consisted of light shows at different spots in the city. The shows were creative and mesmerizing at the same time.

One of the most exciting parts of the trip is the brewery tour, and specially Pilsen is famous for its Pilsner beer. During the trip, we visited the famous Pilsner Urquell Brewery! The brewery has been standing in Pilsen since 1842 and the recipe is still kept intact just as 180 years ago with the use of traditional methods like triple decoction and parallel brewing in wooden lagering barrels. The triple decoction [3] means heating a portion of mash three times to add more flavour and colour to the beer. In order to keep a consistent flavour of the beer, there is always a small portion of beer brewing in the cellars, and it is compared to the beer made in new tanks; it is called parallel brewing [4]. Even though the recipe is centuries-old, Pilsner Urquell beer is still active in the market. We had a tour of the bottling facility [5], which is one of the most modern in Europe and processes 120,000 bottles and 60,000 aluminium cans per hour. Besides learning about the ingredients for beer brewing, we also visited three brewhouses from different centuries. At the end of the tour, there was a tasting of unfiltered beer directly poured from the barrel in the historical cellars.

The third day of the trip was the culture day when the travellers could decide what to do, and since we were in the Czech Republic, we went all the way to Prague. There were several attractions, for example, the Astronomical Clock in the Old Town, the Prague Castle, the Charles Bridge and more! The weather was nice for a walk to explore the city. Overall the trip went successfully and we enjoyed it a lot!