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A Family Trip to South Bohemia (II)

We drove straight to Český Krumlov after the missus, happy with the way her meeting had turned out, picked us up in Prachatice and we arrived at the hotel shortly before five.

After checking-in and checking our e-mails, we headed to the centre walking up the lane that went past the hotel. It led us to one of the back entrances of the palace gardens, which was very convenient since the way would go all downhill from there (in the most literal sense).

The gardens are gorgeous, and were quite empty. It wouldn’t be until we were getting to the buildings of the palace proper that we started seeing more tourists. It wasn’t as bad as I had feared, fortunately. Perhaps the day-tripping herds were already back on their buses.

It was in the palace complex where the first beer in Krumlov was had, more specifically, at Občerstvení na Vyhlídce, a kiosk on one of the lookouts to the city. It was Eggenberg 10°. Very good, it wasn’t, but it did the job. What I would like to know for sure is if it is brewed locally or still in Pardubice.

Pivovar Eggenberg has had a fairly colourful last quarter of a century. When it was privatised in 1991, it was bought for a very low price by Frantíšek Mrázek, a controversial entrepreneur (as his Czech Wikipedia page euphemistically puts it), who would be murdered in 2006. The company was tunnelled (I love the Czech term of asset stripping—vytunelovat), changed owners several times and the court hearing the fraud case against one of the previous owners ordered to stop brewing. In 2015, it was bought by the owner of Pivovar Perštejn, in Pardubice, where production was shifted until some necessary renovations were completed (or the court allowed them to brew again?). According to this page, production was resumed in late June last year, though the brewery’s official website warns that there are not tours due to the ongoing renovations. The brewery pub, however, is open, but we didn’t make it there.

We walked through the palace complex, being amazed at every courtyard, and entered Latrán through the Red Gate. Opposite it, we saw a shop selling gingerbread aptly named Český Perník. My daughter, of course, spotted it before anyone and, of course, insisted we go in. (Fun fact, the Czech name of the TV series Breaking Bad was Perníkový Táta, in reference to the street name meth, perník, derived from Pervitín, the name the drug had in Nazi Germany)

We were greeted by a very friendly lady (sincerely friendly and not the I-must-smile-if-I-want-to-keep-my-job kind of friendly) and the shop inside was lovely. Though displays with gingerbread took most of the premises, as expected, there were other things on sale: artisan chocolates (delicious according to the youngest and the oldest member of the family), honey products, and artisan liqueurs and fruit brandies. No prize for guessing what caught my attention (and the wifey’s).

There was rack with demijohns fitted with taps to draw tasting samples at 20 CZK a pop. Really good considering that you’d probably pay more per volume for a generic whisk(e)y, or even Fernet, at many places.

I tasted the black-currant liqueur and my wife, the coffee one. Both amazing. After having a second sample of black-currant, I couldn’t leave without tasting one of the stronger stuff. They had the usual thing: slivovice, hruškovice, meruňkovice… But it was the mrkvovice (carrot brandy) I was most curious about. I never had seen, or even heard of anything like that and I had to have it.

It was brilliant! Smooth as the maiden’s boobs, with a hint of the greens of the carrot in the nose, while the flavour of the root rolled down with the finish. I was truly impressed.

I would have stayed for another round of tasting, but the family had other ideas, or rather one: dinner.

Choosing the place was no problem; we all wanted to go this pub we loved during our last visit six years ago, Krčma U dwau Maryí. It’s almost under the Vnitřní Město side of Lazebnický Most (a.k.a. the Wooden Bridge) and has a charming terrace next to the Vltava.

The menu is quite interesting in its own way. It features some very traditional Czech dishes that you hardly ever see at restaurants or pubs. I chose one of them, Houbový Kuba (basically, a mushroom pilaf made with pearl barley instead of rice), which was excellent. So was the service.

I paired the food, and the atmosphere, with Eggenberg Nakouřený Švihák. I can’t remember when was the last time I had it on tap (six years ago, probably?), but it went down really, really well; even my wife, who doesn’t like smoked beers, enjoyed it.

We wandered aimlessly around the Inner City until we felt it was time to go to bed, but not before stopping somewhere for a nightcap. After some debate, and almost giving up on the idea, we run into Hospoda 99 and went in, instantly attracted by the cosy terrace at the end of a narrow alley to the right of Budějovická Brána. We loved the place—its atmosphere, view, service—so much that we decided to have dinner there the day after.

The pub is attached to a hostel and the menu caters to a young, international crowd; though many of the patrons seemed to be locals (a common sight in Krumlov). The food was superb and even better value. We had four main courses (generous portions all), two deserts, one home-made lemonade, five large beers and one small, and a cup of coffee for a bit over 1200 CZK!

They had several brands on tap: Pilsner Urquell, Svijanský Máz, Bernard Polotmavý Ležák (in top condition) and a beer from Glockner, a microbrewery from a nearby village. It was their IPA. I have become wary of the IPAs of microbreweries I don’t know (and of some of the breweries I know, too), but I was in a good mood and decided to give it a go. It looked fairly clear, with a bronze tone. The malt base tasted smooth and clean, and fresh. It was the hops what ruined it. I’m no speaking about how much or what kind was used (I wouldn’t mind that, if it is good, I’ve no problem making the style fit the beer), it was their quality. Fortunately, they refrained from going all U-S-A U-S-A! on the recipe, otherwise it would’ve been a wreck like the one at U Lochkově. It was at least drinkable, if you could ignore the subtle supermarket Eidam note, which was very easy, considering the good time we were all having.

Na Zdraví!

Krčma U dwau Maryí
48°48'41.147"N, 14°18'56.694"E
Parkán 104, Český Krumlov
+420 732 110 233 –
Mon-Sun: 11-23

Hospoda 99
48°48'53.333"N, 14°19'3.939"E
Věžní 99, Český Krumlov
+420 721 750 786
Jun – Aug, daily from 10 AM (Kitchen closes at 11 PM)
Sep – May Daily from 11 AM (Kitchen closes at 10 PM)