Tuesday 19 November 2013

Prague: Bars!!


What is there to say about Prague? Before our trip we knew that it was one of the most well preserved and beautiful medieval cities in Europe, it had a pretty good night scene, and that the Czech are the biggest beer drinkers in the world. Now we didn't go to Prague to try their everyday beer, which in itself is very good, but we went there in search of the very best they have to offer. I found this awesome site, Beer Connoisseur that is full of the best spots to get a "pivo", Czech for beer. This site is so informative that I should just stop writing now...but I'm just too excited to share my own experience with you all! 


Prague Walking tour

Our first morning in Prague we took a free walking tour offered by the hostel where we were staying. I once held the misconception that walking tours were lame, but they don't have to be. Most free tours are offered by young students who make it a really fun experience, plus it's a nice way to get the must see tourist spots out of the way to leave more time for eating and drinking. At the end of the tour the guide brought us to this restaurant in the Old Town where they we had traditional Czech cuisine accompanied by a good old glass of Pilsner Urquell.


In the weeks prior to our departure there were multiple cases of botched boot-legged alcohol being sold and causing some serious side effects to people who drank it, e.g. death... From what we were told it would seem that the Czech Republic has no central governing body for the importation and sale of alcohol - no one monitors the contraband. So there was a ban on anything over 20% alcohol. Which kind of spoiled the night scene for us, we were really hoping to have some shots of absinth. And, to top it off, bars in Prague close at 11:30 p.m. at which point patrons either head home or hit up the clubs to finish the night off. We proved to be the former. Fortunately beer was not included in the prohibition, I could only imagine the country wide riot that would have occurred.  

Artisanal Market: Pivovar Rohozec

After the walking tour we landed on this magical artisanal market; the beer kiosk was from a local brewer situated just outside Prague. We wanted to get some more details from the man but unfortunately I do not speak Czech and he did not speak English so we gave him the thumbs up, the international sign for great beer, and took a seat at a table to enjoy his delectable craft brew.  

Pivovarsky Dum

First stop on our list of bars to visit was Pivovarsky Dum, we ordered a trusty beer sampler with some interesting flavors most notably banana beer and nettle beer, not exactly a beer flavor made in heaven but we can appreciate when a brewer gets a little wacky. 

Malostranska Beseda

Mala Strana, the left bank of the Charles Bridge is not the most exciting area of Prague, there are a lot of embassies and government buildings and in my opinion not enough bars! Nonetheless we had spent the morning visiting Prague Castle so we had to find a place to eat before tempers flared. We took out our handy DK Top 10 and found Malostranska Beseda which is generously rated on Tripadvisor -- deservedly so. The restaurant had a nice terrace so we took a seat overlooking the square and watched the tram pass. For our meal we ordered the best goulash I had all trip and Jean had a bacon wrapped turkey breast -- also excellent -- and to accompany our meal we had Kozel dark and a mini pint of Pilsner Urquell. 

Czech Inn Hostel Bar

We stayed at a hostel called the Czech Inn Hostel -- great place, I highly suggest it. Like any good hostel they had a nice, big bar with great beers on tap. We were lucky enough to try a beer called Pheonix, a new wheat beer on the market made for a less conventional crowd. It was amazing, very fresh and crisp, and went down well. 

U Medvidku

Welcome to U Medvidku! I would like to introduce you to Budweiser (Budvar), the better looking Czech original, who have famously been in dispute with Anheuser-Busch since 1906 over exclusivity rights over the use of the name Budweiser. I don't think I have to state that there is no comparison between the two. In Canada you can find Budweiser under the name Budvar, needless to say the Goliath that is Anheuser-Busch won those rights. Budvar, however, makes a case that Budweiser beer is based on geographic location, and to be called Budweiser the beer must be brewed in Budweise. Similarly, to be considered Champagne, sparkling wine must be made in Champagne, France. Check out this article from Huffington Post post that talks a little more on the subject.

Apart from the interesting conflict between "Budweisers", our experience at U Medvidku was OK. Jean had difficulty communicating with the waiter leaving him unable to order anything but Budweiser, which is definitely not a bad thing -- so long as we are not in North America. However, it would have been nice to sample some of the other beers they had on tap. If you have a chance to visit U Medvidku you can expect good food, good beer, and mediocre service -- our waiter in particular. 

Pivovarsky Klub

Next Stop, Pivovarsky Klub! The same owners as Pivovarsky Dum was one of the must visit spots we researched. They offer food but they are primarily a pub with 240 varieties of bottled beer and 6 on tap. Sadly we learned the hard way that most pubs close at 11:30 p.m. and since we got there a little after ten we didn't have much quality time to really savour their stellar beer menu. 

U Fleku

On our last day in Prague we headed to the (in)famous U Fleku for an afternoon beer, they have been around since 1499 so you could say they are well established. The bar is situated between the New Town and Old Town in a colourful two story building with a garden in the back. It was raining while we sat outside but we were well protected by the tree canopy that we did not feel a drop. Word of warning: do not accept the shots of liqueur they are passing around as though they were "on the house", they may look like samples but they are actually quite pricey, so either politely refuse or accept the surcharge.

Zly Casy

Our final night we decided to leave the camera in hostel room and just cut loose; we were done playing tourist and just wanted to enjoy a night out before heading off to the airport the next morning. We found what is now Jean's favorite place in all of Europe, Zly Casy. It is situated in a neighbourhood a little further out from the usual tourist area which may be considered sketchy by some. However, this place is a true beer mecca and worth unsettling ones aesthetic sensibilities for some truly great beers. Though, I do have to warn you that the food here is less than spectacular, we came here thinking we would have supper but that was a bad idea. Maybe this should have been mentioned earlier, but smoking is still allowed in bars and restaurants. Definitely not a selling point for us, but when in Prague..!

Photos of Zly Casy., Prague
This photo of Zly Casy. is courtesy of TripAdvisor
Photos of Zly Casy., Prague
This photo of Zly Casy. is courtesy of TripAdvisor 

We hope we have inspired you to head to Prague and try all that wonderful Czech beer yourselves. Remember, you can order Budweiser there as well... Jokes aside. Having been over a year since our visit to Prague writing this post was a welcomed tour down memory lane. And, the trip continues with our next post: Plizen: Pilsner Urquell Factory Tour! Come back soon!

Na ZdravĂ­!!

- Adri

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