Last week was a sad one for lovers of beer minimalist pubs, with two of them closing on Friday: U Klokočnika and Hrom do Police.
I found out the former when I dropped by to make some photos for the new edition of the Pisshead's Pub Guide. There was a blackboard outside announcing the news, but I didn't take it seriously, anyone could have written it. It was true, of course. When I asked, the waitress told me it was because of the insanely high rent for the location—78,000 CZK + utilities (though I read 76K elsewhere)—and the shop's being in serious need of a refurbishing (on a side note, the premises don't belong to any greedy capitalist pig but to MČ Praha 4).
Later that day, a couple of hours after having posted the news on U Klokočnika on my FB page, I read on Pivni.info the news on Hrom do Police. The reasons behind it are quite similar: high rent—more understandable given its prime location—and the need of likely expensive renovations that nobody was willing to pay.
At first I felt that the boozer by the prison was the greater loss, as there aren't that many pubs in that neighbourhood, let alone pubs I would like to visit, while Vinohrady seems to be bursting with them. But then I remembered how I felt when almost a year ago I was informed that Kaaba Lucemburská was closing, and I realised that for the štamgasty of Hrom do Police it doesn't really matter how many pubs they have walking distance from their homes or jobs, nor it matters how good those pubs may or may not be, it just won't be the same. They probably won't have a place were are be in “ahoj” terms with the staff, where they can walk in any day knowing they'll find someone to talk to (which in a way is better than having arranged meeting someone). It made me feel a little sad and in the end I did go to Hrom do Police for a couple of farewell pints, even if I didn't have that much time; the place deserved it.
I went there on Thursday before catching the train to Pilsen. I sat at the bar and a short exchange about the news I overhead between a regular and a waiter reaffirmed my belief pubs are far more important than beer (even, to some extent, than the beers they have). Yeah, having a cellar, fridge or cupboard full of beers for every possible occasion, posting their photos and their tasting notes on the internet might be fun, but, as far as I'm concerned, none of that can come even close to being in a place that's neither home nor work with other people (even if they are complete strangers), where beer is more an excuse than a purpose.