18 Jan 2008

Some serious beer hunting in Prague

Most people come to Prague to wander in those magic little streets and to see the many historical monuments that make this a very special city. There are others, however, that make it here to drink the world famous Czech beer right at its source. There are thousands of pubs, restaurants and cafés, some better than others, but all seem to offer the same three or four brands.

I want to help you discover a bit more about Czech beer with a guide that will take you around much of the town, and will make you have some unforgettable beer experiences. Or so I hope.

I have divided this guide in five days. Those of you not lucky enough to be able to stay in Prague that long, will sure find a way to taste as much as possible in the time you have.

Day 1: Starting with the basics.
Yes, they are known all over the world, but you will never be able to enjoy Pilsner Urquell or Budvar as here in the Czech Republic. So, before going too deep into the fascinating world of České Pivo, you should start with them while checking the sights of the Old Town.
You will have plenty to choose from, but I'd recommend U Medvídku for a Budvar and U Rudolfina or, if you feel brave, U Zlatého Týgra for some unpasteurised Pilsner Urquell.
If you feel like having some Staropramen, take tram 14 to Na Knížeci, and go to Na Verandách, the restaurant that works at the Smíchov brewery. There you will find it as good as it can get (which is actually not much to say).
For Krušovice, there is no better place than Krušovická Pivnice, opposite the National Theatre.
Other alternatives for Budvar and Pilsner are U Šumavy and Bredovský Dvůr, respectively. The former, a down at heel typically Prague affair, the latter, something more modern and oriented to a younger clientele.


Day 2: Malá Strana and the Casle.
OK, you have to do them. But that doesn't mean that you can't have a good pint. Fortunately, there is also plenty to choose from here, and you will also have the chance to start getting to know a couple of the other breweries, as well as a brewpub.
You can have lunch either at Malostranská Pivnice, if unpasteurised Pilsner is what you want, or Malostranská Restaurace if you fancy Budvar. You could also stop at U Kocoura in Nerudova for a pint of the excellent Bernard Kvasnicové.
Once up the hill avoid pretty much every hospoda or restaurant and head towards U Černého Vola, where you can have unpasteurized Velkopopivický Kozel for 1EU, together with any of the very good snacks served there. If you want, you can also go to Pivovar Stráhov to taste the very improved beers that they make.

For dinner, something special. Take tram 22 to Břevnovský Klášter and go towards the church you will see when you get off. Once in the lovely gardens of the monastery, you will find Klašterní Šenk, a very nice restaurant with a very special atmosphere and really good food, that can be washed down with excellent Klášter beer, either light or dark.

Day 3: Regional Breweries.
There are about 50 bottlers of all sizes in the Czech Republic. Many of them with products that are more interesting and better than the better known ones. They deserve our support.
You will start early today with breakfast at Ferdinanda, with which you will drink any of the very good brews from Benešov. (come on, you are in Prague, nobody knows you here)
From there, and after a bit of walking about, take metro A to Hradčanská and there switch to trams 1, 8, 15, 25, or 26 to Letenské Nám. Right around the block, you will find Svijanský Rytíř. There, besides pretty good food, you can enjoy most of the line of Pivovar Svijany, all of them unpasteurised beers and all of them very good.
When you finish, you might want to go to the Letná park and blow your minds with the amazing view of the Old Town you have there. Then you can walk down straight to the centre to wander about a bit.
If you feel like having something to drink, you can stop at Literarní Kavarna Řetězová, right around the corner from Tygra, to have a cup of coffee or, better still, Bernard dark or light, both kvasnicové.

But if is a weekday, better go back to Letenské Nám. and take trams 1, 15 or 25 to Dělnická, to go to Pivní Galerie. There you will find beers from pretty much all of the regional brewers, as well as t-shirts, glasses, etc, all while sipping one of the two regional beers they will have on tap that day.

For dinner, a bit of luxury. U Peterské věže is an elegant restaurant almost unknown to tourists, where you will be able to eat very well while enjoying some great Rohozec beer.

Day 4: Brewpubs.
You will have to travel a bit today, so better buy a day pass for the metro.
From the centre, take trams 10 or 24 to Bulovka for a lazy late lunch at Richter Brewery. Be sure to drink all of the great beers on tap that day, you will not regret it.
After getting your fill, go back to Karlovo Nám. with trams 10 or 24 and there switch to tram 18. Get off at Nuselská Radnice to go to Pivovar Bašta (U Bansethu), so far, the newest brewpub in Prague (watch out, it opens at 3PM).

Today's dinner is at Pivovarský Dum. There you must taste whatever happens to be the beer of the month, together with Kavové (coffee flavoured), Kopřivové (nettle) and Pseničné (wheat), not to mention Štěpán, maybe the best golden lager you can have in Prague.


Day 5: The cherry on the pie
.
You can't leave Prague without going to Pivovar U Medvídku. I recommended the hospoda on the ground floor for the first day. Today, go all the way to the back of this massive place and take the stairs up to the first floor. There, just sit down and enjoy those masterpieces that are Oldgott Barrique and X33, while looking at the oak barrels where those beauties ferment and lager.
For dinner, or for the rest of the day, Pivovarský Klub. Order any of the 6 beer on tap (or why not, all of them), since it is very possible that you will not have seen them anywhere else in Prague. If that is not enough, you can explore the shelves or the menu to order some of the 200+ bottled beers on the list.


This guide does not intend to be authoritative. I just want to give you the possibility to discover as many places and beers as possible during your visit to Prague. If you want something more detailed and extensive, you can buy the excellent "The Good Beer Guide - Prague & The Czech Republic", by Evan Rail.

Before closing, I have to recommend you make reservations at those restaurants you choose for dinner. The ones I listed are linked to a web page where you can find their phone numbers, email addressed, location on the map and, if the have it, their web pages.

I hope you will enjoy your visit. If you have any questions or, better still, suggestions, this is your space.

Na Zdraví!

13 comments:

  1. Thanks, this post was just great. I will follow your recomandations on my next trip to Prague.

    I would have put U Hrocha on that list. What about "barnacha rychta"? Is'nt that good? I have heard they serve Svijani?

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  2. Thanks for the comments! And you are right, I simply forgot U Hrocha, and I believe it's a very nice place to have a Pilsner Urquell. Thanks!
    About Barnacha Rychta, I've heard of it, but I've never been there. In fact I was looking for it the other day, but didn't have the address on me, so I couldn't find it. When I do, I will go there and review it.

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  3. Ha! I was going to comment on Baracnicka Rychta as well, but the anonymous commenter beat me to it. Definitely worth a visit!

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  4. I will have to go then!!!
    I must have walked right past it the other day when I was looking for it, and didn't notice.
    I promise to check it out soon.
    thanks for the tip...

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  5. Barnacha Rychta is located in Triezte. You walk up the road between the Irish pub and little Glen at Karmeltska (?). I was there some years ago, buy unfortunately it was closed (10.00 am).

    When it comes to Czech beer, I must admit I have only tried the beer from the big five + the microbreweries in Prague. U Bastu is it really worth a visit?

    Anyway I love Czech beer in traditional hospoda. The imported stuff I can buy in the shops here in Norway, isn't that good. Perhaps it does not travell well? It is far better than Norwegian beer though.

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  6. I now know where Rychta is, in fact, the other day I turned left a few metres from it. I will go there, I have promised it to myself.
    Pivovar Bašta is definetively worth going, the beers are really good, and so are the snacks, but I don't think is very tourist friendly.
    It can be that the beers don't travel too well, but I would bet more on the people that take them there being the reason, specially if we are talking about supermarkets.
    Beer is, unfortunately, not taken as serious as wine. It is just handled and stored as any other product withouth any considerations of the effect that light or heat have on it.

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  7. Hola Max,
    Excellent info for my trip to Czech next month. So are you seeing any effect of the shortage of hops in the beers there in Praha? Taste or cost-wise? Here in the States, we're getting hit pretty hard, especially for us homebrewers that brew on a larger scale.
    -jd

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  8. Jd,
    I hope you will enjoy your trip here.
    As for the hops question. The price of beer has increased a bit, but not too much. As for flavour, I haven't noticed much of a change to be honest, though some people have told me that bottled Pilsner Urquell tastes different now than a bit ago, but since I don't buy it to drink home, I couldn't tell.
    I dont know what is the situation of the homebrewers. It is relatively recent thing here, there isnt much information about them.
    Maybe some reader who is more involved in the industry or home brewing will be able to give a more first hand question.

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  9. Oh yes, beer is the essence of any Czech culinary attitude. I noticed it when I was in Prague and during my stay in one of Prague hotels, went out every day and was drinking beer every day. It is produced according to Czech methods worldwide and its quality is respected everywhere. No wonder that the Czech Republic has the highest consumption of beer per citizen on an international level. The most expensive Czech beer I had during our visit was 50 crowns (about one pound sterling and that was at the opera). Unsurprisingly you may find more than 800 Pubs in Prague to choose from and a few of them existing since centuries. No other item do Czechs take more pride in and tasting a beer in Prague is a must.

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  10. Thanks for your comments, Linda.
    I'm glad you liked Prague so much. Hope you will come back some day...

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  11. as Belgian and great beer lover I will for sure be able to use your guide to get to know some of the local Czech beers when I go to Prague in two weeks! I will let you know what has come of it. ;-)

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  12. I am working on a travel website with Mediamatic.net in Amsterdam. We
    > are networking and bringing to the surface many places in arts and
    > culture throughout the world and Prague is one of the cities we are
    > featuring. I came across your image of some nice beer while searching for
    > images and used it to highlight the U Rudolfina. Please see how your image
    > has been presented, credited and displayed.
    >
    http://travel.mediamatic.net/page/3646/en
    >
    > Please take a look through the rest of the website - if you would like
    > to be more active on the site, please create a profile on
    > Mediamatic.net and promote your work, yourself and participate in any
    > other way you like!
    >
    > Thanks and I look forward to hearing your feedback!
    >
    > Best regards,
    > Ali at Mediamatic

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  13. So, we went to Prague and it was fantastic! The first day we went to U Cerneho Vola, a great place for our first lunch snack! Also the Strahov place for some Bernard, though I found the beer a bit too "smokey". The Klasterni Senk was completely booked on friday, but we went back on sunday and had the best dinner of all! Svijanský Rytíř we have found it, but it was closed on sunday (too bad). I would also like to mention the very nice "Sklep Restaurant", where we had a few good meals or beers with snacks in the evening. Chicken wings are to die for, as are the Balkan Potatoes with cheese! Thanx a lot for this guide, it has surely helped us to some nice places we would have missed out on.

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