Prague: Brewing History and Innovation

* This is the last of a series of three articles generously sponsored by The Bookshop Alehouse [tba], Southampton, UK. The articles are centered on Israel, Milan and Prague, where Southampton FC will play its upcoming Europa League games. 

 

If there is a country that has been having a massive influence on the beer world since the late 19th century, that is the Czech Republic. The pilsner is indeed today’s most widespread beer style. It’s no surprise then, that the country’s capital - Prague - has been for decades a top beer destination, helped by two key ingredients: cheap pints and a picturesque ‘Old Town’.

 

It makes sense to me that we kick off this Prague pub walk in the Old Town itself, with U Medvídků. It’s a real icon of Prague’s drinking culture, with a history that dates back to the 15th century. Many of their beers undergo a secondary fermentation in oak barrels, including X-Beer 33, a 12.5% amber lager barrel fermented for a period of 200 days.

T-anker is instead a much younger addition to Prague’s beer scene, but has rapidly grown in popularity, thanks to nine rotating taps and the superb panorama its guests can enjoy from the beer garden.

 

East of the Old Town, following the river Vltava, you’ll find another newcomer: Pivovarský Klub, which offers six rotating taps plus a pretty decent bottled collection. A short walk from the Klub will lead you to Mozaika’s Krystal Bistro, where you can taste Matuška Brewery’s IPA or Pils accompanied by French-inspired food.

 

Let’s move from the Old to the New Town, to visit the Craft House Prague, a world-class multitap beer bar and bottleshop. Really a unique place: 27 taps with local beers as well as brews from the UK, Germany, Poland, Belgium etc, plus a separate ‘Imperial-bar’ (nothing’s ‘craftier’ than this...) dedicated to anything above 8% abv!

 

Literally two minutes from the Craft House you’ll find one of Prague's most traditional brewpubs: Novoměstský Pivovar. This is not a fancy place, just two options on tap, a pale and a dark lager, designed to be consumed in large quantities. Avoid the ‘flavored’ options though...trust me.

 

Now walk straight towards the river to find the 500-year-old brewpub U Fleků, whose iconic clock shows its name ‘Pivovar U Fleků’ instead of the numbers. The magnificent interiors are a good enough reason for a visit, but I’m sure you won’t complain if you are given the chance to taste one of their beers too.

South from the New Town there’s another of Prague’s hotspots: Pivovarský Dům. My favourites are once again the two house lagers (pale and dark), but the brewpub is bold enough to offer some seasonal brews made with unusual ingredients (at least unusual for the Czech Rep.), such as sour cherries, coffee, nettle, chilli, plus a number of more traditional Germanic styles (bock and märzen).

 

Enough with tradition for the time being. Not far from the train station, Kulový Blesk serves beers from Czech microbreweries: 16 rotating taps and an excellent food offer - mostly meat.

 

For a proper Czech meal however, head to Strahov Monastery, just by Prague’s Castle. This brewery (now Klašterní Pivovar) was first documented in the late 13th century. The core range comprises of an IPA, a Märzen and a Dunkel, but they always have some seasonal brews on tap.

 

Now, cross the railway and head to the Church of Saint Ludmilla. The Prague Beer Museum is located on the southern side of the square. Despite its name, it is not a museum, although its 30 brews on tap - all locally sourced - might convince you of the opposite. There’s a sister bar in the Old Town; both pubs have plenty of food options. The owners say they’re planning more openings around Europe in the near future...so keep a watchful eye on these guys. On the opposite side of the square the 20 PIP Craft Pub Bar will give you 20 additional choices of craft beer on tap.

 

To end such a heavenly pub crawl move further south to Jezerka District. Zlý Časy is certainly worth the trip: three bars with 40 taps in total! The closest thing to Brussels’ Delirium Cafe.

 

The map below will help you locate all the pubs mentioned above, plus a few more in case your thirst is really unquenchable.

 

Have a safe trip back home.

 

Cheers

Jacopo

 

  

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November 16, 2016

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© 2014-2019 Jacopo Mazzeo.

Using information featured here for commercial gain is forbidden without the author’s permission.
 

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