Drinking beer in Prague is a true pleasure. Great beer is everywhere; you don’t have to seek it out. Over the course of two weeks I didn’t have a single bad beer or ever spend more than $2 Canadian for a beer in a bar. These are a few of my favourite beer-related experiences in Prague – the bars, the delicious traditional Czech snacks, and of course, the beers themselves.
First beer in Prague: After getting settled into our apartment on the first day, we made our way for a much needed meal at Svejk Restaurant U Karla. We picked this location for the ease of gluten-free eating for my wife for the first night. A few minutes after sitting down, I got acquainted with my first Pilsner Urquell:
What went well with my second beer in Prague? My first pork knee. Czechs know how to eat:
Pivnice U Rudolfina: Over the two weeks I sought out a number of tankovna pubs. Here, your beer will taste very noticeably different (and better in my opinion!). In tankovnas, the beer is unpasteurized. There are only about 180 of these across the Czech Republic, and the first I found my way into was Pivnice U Rudolfina. Their unpasteurized Pilsner Urquell was a revelation to my taste buds. Fresher, crisper, spicier, more floral and delicate. This was one of the most enjoyable pints I’ve had anywhere. To accompany my beer, I ordered a snack of rye bread and Olomoucké tvarůžky, a ripe, pungent smelling Czech cheese:
The famous Kozel dark beer: This was on my must try list, especially knowing that I’d be spending most of the time in the Czech Republic drinking lighter lagers. At the time of sampling I didn’t know this beer clocks in at just under 4% alcohol – it certainly didn’t taste like a lighter alcohol beer. I paired this with a roast duck and dumplings. The portions in the Czech Republic are out of control huge:
Pivovarský dům: Unlike most North American cities, there really aren’t many micro or nano breweries in Prague. On the afternoon after my conference wrapped up, I decided to stop into the wonderful Pivovarský dům, part restaurant, part onsite microbrewery. On tap they had six different beers made on premises. To kick off the start of the vacation part of the trip, I ordered their pilsner. It’s a truly splendid beer and it’s a shame they don’t bottle this – if they did, there would have been a few placed in my luggage for the trip home. To go along with the beer, I ordered a couple of snacks that made me feel the Czechs have figured out how to enjoy life – fried Moravian cheese, pickled cabbage and deep fried bread (!!!) with garlic. I wish this was available in every bar in Canada:
Needing something else to help wash down the fried bread, I ordered a dark beer. Although dark in colour, it was relatively light in flavour with a nice toasted malt finish:
U Fleků: Ok, so this place is a bit of a tourist trap, but the beer and ambiance are special regardless. It’s a dark, smoky and sprawling space with long tables. And look, a guy playing an accordion!
After turning down a shot of some amber coloured Czech hard liquor (there are some things even I can’t stomach before noon), I ordered a pint of their famous dark lager. It’s the only beer available, and for good reason: it’s been brewed for about 500 years and is delicious. There’s no need for choice. In fact, there are guys wandering through the space with trays full of beer. A mere nod in their direction gets one placed in front of you. To go with this pint, I again succumbed to the allure of fried bread and garlic, this time served with a spreadable beer cheese and butter. Where has this been my whole life?
U Medvíků: Another tankovna in Prague, this place serves unpasteurized Budvar. The fact that there are two Budweisers in the world is kind of funny to me. Needless to say, the Czech Budweiser Budvar is by far the better beer. My Dad, ever the American Bud fan, even had to admit this after I brought him a can of the Czech namesake beer. Here I am at U Medvíků raising a mug:
Pivovarský Klub: Tucked slightly east of the Old Town near the Florenc metro station, this is a place for the serious beer lover. They have the Czech Republic’s largest selection of bottled beer from around the world. I was most interested to try a couple of Czech microbrewed beers on tap. First, an unfiltered pale lager from minipivovar (microbrewery) Pacov – refreshing with a slight banana/clove flavour – and then a semi-dark lager from pivovar Vyškov:
Letna Beer Gardens: This was my favourite “bar” in all of Prague. Truly, it’s probably my favourite bar I’ve visited in my travels so far. Perched in Letna on a hill overlooking the Old Town of Prague, it’s an outdoor beer gardens that welcomes all – business people for an after work drink, tourists, young locals, artists…
The beer itself isn’t anything terribly special. For about $1.50 Canadian you get a half litre of Gambrinus in a plastic cup. But this would be my hangout if I lived in Prague. You’re outside in an idyllic setting so the beer tastes that much better. I only got here on the last night of our trip and was spending my left over Czech currency on plastic cups of beer as the sun set. My wife and I sat at a picnic table looking out over the Old Town of Prague reminiscing on a great two weeks. Sitting here, life was pretty close to perfect. I’ll always remember that my last beer in Prague came with a million dollar view: