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The "Where" factor

Price not being an issue, I'm sure that if I gave you to choose between the beers from Velkopopovický Kozel and those from Pivovar Strahov (a.k.a., Svatý Norbert), most (if not all) of you would choose Strahov without even thinking about it. They are really, really good after all.

However, it happens often with beer that it's not so much about what you drink, but where you drink it. So, going back to Kozel and Sv. Norbert, if I throw the "where" factor into the equation, the choice isn't that easy anymore, or it is. Let me tell you.

The other day I had plan for the afternoon: have a couple of quick pints at U Černého Vola, where I hadn't been since its continuity was in peril, from there go to Pivovar Strahov to have their summer Weizen and their outstanding IPA, to finish the crawl at a new place that has opened near Hradčanská, before taking the bus back home. I failed, I didn't have time to make it to the last spot, and it was all U Černého Vola's fault.

I went in and greeted the výčepní. I hear a sort of growl behind my back asking "Pivo?". It was the waiter. I said yes and found a seat at table with a Russian couple. The beer came fast and well tapped.

It was my first beer of the day, a delicious Kozel 12º. It almost vanished down my throat. I didn't need to order the second one.

The place started to fill. At one point I closed my eyes for a few seconds to listen the soundrack: people talking, a laughter and the "thump!" putting půl litry on the tables. Heavenly music.

I was about to finish my second pint not feeling very much like leaving anymore. I see the waiter hammering the tables with pints full of Kozel. When he finished the round he was still holding one pint and I told myself "if he offers it to me, I'm staying". The bloke must have read my mind, or not, without any questions he hammered my corner of the table with that glass and I stayed. (And they say you get crap service at pubs).

A bit later two old timers arrived, whose beers also arrived without anyone calling them. I started to chat and laugh with those two geezers whom everyone would love to have as grandfathers. I stayed a pint longer, leaving required enormous willpower.

I arrived at Strahov. I took a seat inside. It was too warm to sit in the courtyard, which was full anyway. A waitress brought my Weizen, quickly and with a smile, another waitress brought my IPA, quickly and with a smile. Both beers were fantastic, gorgeous, sexy, among the best you can drink in Prague. But something was missing. I closed my eyes to listen to the soundtrack: The radio, Europa 2 and its music that sounds as if someone had put a cat in an old washing machine while it was working.

If finished both of those superb beers and went home, wishing I could go back to Vola to drink more Kozel.

Na Zdraví!


  1. Absolutely spot on mate, and one of the things I miss most about Prague is pubs that are just that, pubs. If I remember rightly there is no music or anything similar in PK and when it is buzzing in there it has one of the best atmospheres of any drinking hole I have been to on the planet.

  2. You are so right. I enjoy the Strahov beers, but I hardly ever give myself the chance to try them. Or, rather: the cerny vol won't let me. I always get stuck at Vola. Kozel may not be the world's top most exciting beer (though Vola does them better than everybody else) but the atmosphere is amazing.
    With the choice of good beer with great ambience and great beer with non-distinctive/cosmopolitan atmosphere I choose the first. Almost every time.

  3. Totally agree with this. Going to Prague tomorrow and am going to do lots of sitting in U Černého Vola just listening to the atmosphere and drink lots of lovely Kozel.


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