14 Mar 2016

The Tram Beer Challenge (5): Nákladové nádraží Žižkov - Perunova - I.P. Pavlova


Well, fuck!

I knew fate would eventually bring me to a stop I've been before. I was only hoping it wouldn't be so soon; and to Perunova of all places! (and I'm still burping U Kozla's cellar)

The problem here, and one I didn't take into account my first time around, is that the tram stops are very close together, even the ones in Vinohradská, which restraints me even more (in fact, I cocked up when I went to Restaurace Orion, but it's too late to bother about that now).

The nearest place is a rock bar that only sells Pilsner Urquell in 0.4l measures. I'd rather drink a full portion of Staropramen, which is what I will have to do, I reckon, at U Michála.

It looks like the kind of pub I would probably avoid even if it was the only one in town. Not only because of the brand they sell, it's simply unattractive an uninviting. It's quite small, with a Spartan decoration; almost as if they'd just moved and they were still waiting for some boxes to be delivered.

All that being said, the place is almost full, with a very lively crowd of fifty-somethings (being in my mid-forties, I get an irrational pleasure out of being the youngest person in a crowd).

I take a seat at the bar and order a Světlý—well tapped, it has to be said. The other geezers perched there are having a pretty good time. The one next to me is telling a story about a time he and his mate went to Austria and drank everyone under the table, back when the soudruzi were still running the show here. Does this man remember what those drinks tasted like? Did he care at the time what it meant to be drinking there, or going to Austria was just another day in the job for him? Those are things I would love to know, but would never dare to ask a stranger; and listening to the conversation makes me none the wiser as it has branched out into other, still alcohol-related topics.

The pub is still kind of ugly, but these people don't care. I have stopped caring myself, but don't fancy staying for a second pint; I feel a little as if I were crashing a party. I pay and go back to the tram stop.

Can you bloody believe it? I'm heading to I.P. Pavlova, again. This time, though, I know where I'll go.

If I recall correctly, Pivní Mapa opened a bit over two years ago, with 45 taps. I never bothered to go, but did walk past it a couple of times. The pub wasn't much bigger than my living room and looked like a kebab takeaway. Apparently, it was a takeaway of sorts. According to what I heard (but never confirmed), the idea was that people would come to have bottles filled to drink at home, making up for small premises. On paper, it looks interesting; unfortunately, however, the location was shit—almost at the corner of Legerova and Anglická, a place with hardly any foot traffic, where you can't even stop a car. Not surprisingly, the rotation was less than ideal (even when only 30 of the 45 taps were used at any given time) and it didn't take long for Pivní Mapa to draw comparisons with U Radnice.

What was surprising was finding out that it was still open; well, sort of. The premises I think it used to occupy have been turned into a kitchen studio. The only clue of its existence is the logo on a blackboard by the door of a pub next door, Sklípek U Munků, which also sports a Bakalař sign.

If this is indeed Pivní Mapa—and to be honest, I'm not sure*—their ambitions are far more realistic: six beers on tap (though it appears they have more some days). The place itself is in a deep, gloomy cellar and looks like the restaurant of a small town 3 star hotel. Other than the owner, a Russian woman in her 40s, and the lady she's having a business meeting with, it's empty (and quiet, the only sounds are the humming of a fridge or cooling system and someone chopping vegetables in the kitchen).even if it's been more than half hour since opening time, I've good reason to believe I'm the day's first patron. Saying that my expectations are low is an understatement.

The beer list features names that would've got me really stoked when I started blogging—Primátor, Litovel, Bakalař, Beroun. I pick Bakalař 12° and hope for the best.

Bloody hell! It's brilliant! The right temperature, properly tapped after flushing the line and rinsing the glass, tastes fresh and surgically clean; it's a textbook example of what a Světlý Ležák should be like. The best beer I've had so far in this game.

They've turned on the music, generic Pop of the blandest and most inoffensive sort (which goes well with the decoration, to be honest), and I'm still alone in the pub (if you don't count the book I'm reading, Cannabis a History, by Martin Booth). But I'm a fairly good mood, so good that I feel adventurous and, instead of getting another pint of Bakalař, I choose Berounský medvěd tmavý 13°. Like the previous one, it's in top form, and a real bargain at 30 CZK a half litre.

Two blokes, Russian or Ukranian, arrive as I squeeze the last drops of the dark beer and make me wonder what this place is like in the evening, and what kind of people patronise it. In any case, it's been a real surprise and a much welcome change, at least beerwise. Should check it out again some evening.

Back on the road, hoping I won't end up in Újzed again.

Na Zdraví!

Kafé Bar U Michála
50°4'30.685"N, 14°27'9.266"E
Korunní 86 – Praha-Vinohrady
+420 605 869 351 – michal.synek@gmail.com
Mon-Fri: 8-23, Sat-Sun: 14-23

Pivní Mapa
50°4'36.310"N, 14°25'50.220"E
Legerova 76 – Praha-Vinohrady
+420 721 250 180 – info@pivnimapa.eu
Mon-Fri: 14-23, Sat-Sun: 15-23

(*) Pivní Mapa's original website announced the move to U Munků. I guess I should pay attention to these things. On the other hand, nobody's paying me for that.

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