Before I begin, I must tell you that I'm really excited about this project. Not only I got some great feedback, but it has also given me an excuse to go back to some places I visited in ages, places that I used to like a lot, but you know, life. (On a side note, maybe we should all do that more often, go back to places or beers we once loved, but that now are almost part of our past) It has also given me a pretext to finally make it to the, for the time being, though not for much longer, newest brewpub in Prague, Pivovar Liboc, though I still haven't decided how excited I am about it.
Anyway, I've been thinking about the order in which I would post the reviews. Chronological – from the oldest to the newest brewpubs, or the other way around; geographical or maybe pitching one of the older brewpubs against one of the newer ones. But I've opted for something far more logical and straightforward, based on whenever I had enough time and happened to be near and/or could be arsed with going to a given brewpub.
So, without further ado, let's get to reviewing the shit out of some brewpubs.
I think the last time I was in Pivovarský Dům was more than three years ago while researching for the The Pisshead's Pub Guide. It's a great example of what I was speaking about at the beginning. I loved this place and its beers, it was one of my regular watering holes back when the fingers of one hand was enough to count the brewpubs of Prague. I don't remember ever having a bad experience here, I simply stopped coming. So it was good to be back.
Nothing has changed in the main room, which is a welcome sight, as I've always liked its style. I took a table right next to the brewing kit and realised I was surrounded by Russian tourists. They weren't part of an umbrella following herd, they were couples or small groups of thirty-somethings, or so I reckon, by the most part who didn't know each other. This isn't a complaint or even criticism. I've got nothing against Russian tourists, especially when they are as well behaved as those were, and for the pub, their money is every bit as good as mine. But, and though nobody can be blamed for that, it does take away some of the atmosphere.
The most remarkable thing I noticed was the sampling trays on every table – you know, that thing with the tiny glasses with all the beers Pivovarský Dům makes. It was as of these people were there following instructions; otherwise they wouldn't be taken seriously back home. Something I'm pretty sure they've read on a popular guide book. But I don't want to make any of fun of them, after all, we beer geeks/enthusiast aren't too different, are we? Whenever we go to any of those beer Meccas we feel an almost obligation to visit a list of places because we've been told that we mustn't miss them - “what you were in Brussels and didn't go to Moeder Lambic? What sort of monster are you?”.
But enough social commentary, let's get to the beers.
The Štěpán – Světlý Ležák was like a sensory trip to the past, it reminded me why I used to believe this was the best pale lager in the world. Simply amazing in its simplicity, and in a way, surprising. It tasted like finding beer money in the pocket of an old jacket. It more than made up for the lacklustre atmosphere and if I'd had time, I would've stayed for an unmoderate number of pints.
I wish I could say the same thing about Štěpán – Tmavý Ležák. There wasn't anything objectively wrong with it, it just was not my thing. Felt like having tea and pastries with your aunt, when you could be eating a roast somewhere else. But that Pale Lager, uuuuuuuhhhh! I need more of that in my life.
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Trams: 4, 6, 10, 16, 22 – Štěpánská