The Czech Republic has famously been brewing beer since at least the 12th century and many visitors each year now flock to the capital city of Prague to sample some of its wares. Although the market has tended to be dominated by the main breweries such as Pilsner Urquell and Budweiser Budvar, a number of new and regional micro-breweries have begun to challenge the market leaders.
What is Czech beer?
Although it is possible to source the occasional dark ale or porter in Prague, the Czech people prefer a tangy, rich lager in the style of Pilsner, with a darkish colour. They are not keen in the paler ‘light’ lagers favoured elsewhere on the continent. They tend to refer to their beers by the ‘degree’ of strength, which closely relates to the amount of sugar used in the brewing process. The higher the number the stronger the beer, with 10 degrees being a relatively light and weak beer compared to the stronger and more alcoholic 12 degree beer. A 14 or 16 degree beer should be approached and consumed with some caution.
Places to find the best beer in Prague
Your first port of call in your quest for the finest Czech beer should be the Prague Beer Museum, a short walk from the main town square. Despite the name, this is in fact a pub which offers a constantly changing variety of beers including the option of a five-glass or ten-glass ‘tasting menu’. The Beer Museum serves a very limited selection of snacks but does not serve meals.
The Pivovarsky Klub sells beers brewed on the premises together with a selection of some of the finest regional offerings. This is an ideal venue for those wanting to combine beer tasting with a meal as there is a good choice of home-cooked dishes.
The Pivovarsky Dum is the sister pub to the Pivovarsky Klub and has its own microbrewery which produces both light and dark beers and offers its own range of ‘experimental’ beers developed in-house. Ingredients for the experimental ranges include cherries, bananas and coffee and the brewery also produces a beer flavoured with nettles which has a surprisingly sweet taste. Home-cooked meals include the Hungarian staple of goulash along with roast pork, dumplings and other specialities. Advance booking is strongly recommended as this is an extremely popular venue.
Sourcing bottles of regional beers for sale can be difficult, although many varieties are now available in local pubs. If you are hoping to stock up on specific beers, or looking for information in sourcing your perfect beer, it is worth taking a short tram ride to the Holesovice area on the outskirts of Prague. Here you will find the Pivnie Galerie (Beer Shop) which stocks a huge range of beers from all across the Czech Republic. The owners have a wealth of knowledge and experience on the subject of Czech beer and will do everything they can to ensure that you purchase your perfect beer from the hundreds available.