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Back to the Roots Reviews: Pecký Pivovar

Like last year, we spent our daughter's spring break in Pec pod Sněžou, at Chata Orlík, a comfortable enough hotel, with very friendly owners and staff, near the slopes, but far from the bustle of the town, and with the best value for money dinners I've ever had – the buffet menu was different every day, with a soup, an appetiser, a main course, dessert, cheese and fruit, all top quality and wonderfully made, and at 180 CZK per person (half for kids).

After a day of skiing, the meniscus of my right knee suggested, in no uncertain terms, that I should take a day off. At a ski resort, if you aren't skiing, there's not much else to do other than drink yourself silly. The problem is that the bars near the slopes, besides being overpriced and with beer that isn't served in the best conditions, aren't very suitable to go for a quiet pint or five. I also didn't want to stay in the hotel. But I always have a plan (well, not always, to be honest): I'd walk up to Pecký Pivovar, located just short of 3 km from the place I had lunch with the family and the friends that were with us.

Pecký Pivovar opened last November and I found about it through the posters that adorned many a tram-stop shelter in Prague. Under normal circumstances, I would have ignored it: it's less than six months old and I didn't have any references, but I couldn't think of anything better to do and I reckoned that my knee could handle the walk.

The way uphill was fairly easy until the last 200 metres or so, where the road not only got steeper, but also very icy. When I made it the the brewery's taproom, and despite the -6°C and the falling snow, I was panting and sweating as if I had been doing callisthenics in a sauna. Inside, the taproom was steaming hot. The day’s batch was whirpooling and the temperature must have been close to 30°C.

The place, with unremarkable, modern design. is small; only a handful of tables, plus the bar, that also sports a grill, and the kitchen behind it (there's a larger room, a restaurant, separated by a glass door). Almost next to the bar, to the left, is the brewery proper, with a two-vessel, copper plated 10 hl brewing kit and a few tanks lining the wall opposite. There are also more tanks in a cellar visible through a glass floor. I can’t remember now how many, but they seem to have plenty of capacity. If it was located in the middle of a city, it would be just another modern bar full of straight lines, stainless steel and beige, but here, surrounded by forest, snow and mountains visible from the large windows at the back of the brewhouse and right next to me made it a solid contender for one of the most beautiful brewpubs I’ve ever been to.

But what about the beers?

The tapster, a tall, lanky bloke with long dreadlocks, who reminded me of someone from my youth back in Argentina whose name I've since forgotten, took my order as I was peeling my layers of clothes.

I was disappointed to see that the beers were available only in 0.4 litre portions - I may have been more reluctant to come had I known that beforehand, but the website offers no information. The prices were not exactly cheap (36 CZK for the 10° and 44 CZK, for the 12° and the Dark beer. There was also an IPA for 50 CZK a pop), but I was expecting them, given the seasonal nature of the business, and that the brewery was put up in what appears to be a brand new building.

Needless to say, I opened the session with a Desítka. Other than it tasted clean, there's nothing else I can tell you as it vanished down my throat in a swig and a half. A second one was warranted, so, you know, I could properly taste it. It was very good! Again, clean, well lagered, not nasty bits to be felt and a lovely, but subtle, note of Pilsen malt in the finish that you could almost chew. The only quibble: it was too fizzy. Whether that was something inherent to the beer or caused by the dispensing system, I can't tell, but it did have an effect on the structure.

The Dvanáctka followed. By then I had made friends with the tapster, who was proud of the beers he was selling. And with good reason. Like the 10°, it's brewed only with Pilsner malts, and Sládek, Premiant, and Saaz hops, but with a three-decoction mash instead of two. It was also clean, but smoother, and fuller (maybe a product of the additional decoction?) than the weaker sibling, and the finish, instead of grain, had a floral puf! Almost like chewing on a dandelion, or some poetic bullshit like that. A second one was warranted, just to be sure I had got all the notes right.

It was getting late, but I couldn't leave without having a go at the Černý. Intriguingly, and decoction mash notwithstanding, it's not bottom fermented. It's brewed with English hops and without roasted barley, which would pretty much rule out a Stout or even a BIPA. I love it when there isn’t a style written on the label. You evaluate the beer on it's own merits and not according to what a catalogue of competition categories will tell you. And if you do want to pigeon hole it, it's up to you where. I wish all breweries did that, at least with one of their beers, but then, how would geeks decide what’s good or not? But back to this beer. I'm not quite sure what style I would fit to this one if I had to, (London Porter, perhaps?), what I am sure of, though, and very sure, is that it was fantastic. Light without being thin, and a massive note of the finest bitter chocolate that is almost endless. A beauty!

I could have easily stayed for another one, but I had agreed with the missus to meet her at the hotel at around 4, and it was past 3:30. Fortunately for me (and maybe my neck - walking down that icy bit of road would have been a nightmare) the Brew Master was punching out for the day and agreed to give me a lift to town. While he was picking up his stuff a had a taste of the IPA, which was decent enough to buy a PET bottle (100 CZK/1 l) and one of that dark beauty (80 CZK/1l) to share with the rest of the group. Both were a resounding success.

The Brew Master was happy to know how much I had liked his beers. He's a proper Brew Master, by the way, with several decades in the trade. He started at 15 and spent most of his career at Prazdroj. It shows on the beers.

I got to the hotel a bit later than agreed. But it didn't matter, everyone was in a good mood, and I was in an even better one, and who wouldn’t be?

Pecký Pivovar
N 50°42.48400', E 15°43.95328'
Pec pod Sněžkou 124
+420 491 204 141 –


  1. My friend!
    You tell beautiful stories but you do not have photos. It would give an interesting magic

    1. Thanks. About the photos. I usually don't have a camera with me because a) I don't have a smartphone; b) I'm too lazy to carry a camera; and I don't care because c) I feel that making photos of everything around me fucks up the moment; I'd be too focused on getting the pics right to fully enjoy the experience, which is the main reason I go to places like this.


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