Everyone needs a local hospoda where they feel comfortable and are recognized. However, it’s always good to spice things up with a bit of variety, and the fantastic brew pubs of Prague offer a range of well-crafted local beers.
How many of Prague’s brew pubs have you visited? Here are some of my impressions.
Bašta is my favorite little brew house here in the Golden City. This cozy, non-smoking pub makes one of the best working man’s 12º světlé beers in the country. Also, their award-winning 12º polotmavé is a full, well-balanced beer. They recently expanded from one room to a much needed three, where they also added an oven for roasting duck, which is delicious.
The světlé and polotmavé are fixtures at Bašta, though they also have an interesting third tap with styles from wheat or stout to honey and even a smoked beer. Sládek (brewer) Jan Kroužek uses hops in pellet form from Žatec to make some outstanding beers. Check for upcoming beer here.
There were 4 beers to choose from, two of which were India Pale Ales. First, we went for their classic unfiltered IPA, with 6.3% alcohol and 65 IBU’s (international bittering units). With two types of American hops, Cascade and Amarillo, this hoppy ale made me feel right at home.
Then we went for the new 6.3% Clerk’s IPA with an IBU count of 70. Interestingly, this beer was originally destined to become a spirit; some problems with the authorities forced the brewers to get creative. So they added the wort of their dark beer to uncarbonated IPA and let condition for 14 days, now you can taste this 6-hop (American and Czech hops) Clerk’s IPA fresh from the tap.
Also available that day was the Special Dark. This is a very smooth and roasty, easy-to-drink dark with an O.G. (original gravity) of 1.057 and 5.5% alcohol. Perfect for a rainy spring afternoon. Also on tap was the Special Amber (Jantar); with an O.G. of 1.053 and 5.3% alcohol, this 37 IBU amber is a perfectly drinkable beer, but my least favorite of this group.
The oldest brew pub in Prague, U Fleků, dates back to 1499 and has been brewing for over 500 years. Now the most touristy of all Prague’s brew pubs, you will have to fend off waiters pushing Becherovka shots. We had to say no 4 times (plus twice in Czech) before our waiter would give up. This will keep me from returning.
But if you manage to settle in with your very dark, somewhat sweet molassesy Czech lager, you will enjoy yourself. The classic Czech decor is quaint and warm, and there’s an older gentleman roaming the beer-hall setting the mood with his accordion. For a moment I felt as though I was here on holiday.
Deep within a panelák jungle at the end of metro line C in Háje, this wood-paneled beer-hall has a classic vibe, with long solid tables filling the space. I could imagine a celebratory evening with beer spilling from ceramic mugs, maybe even a brawl.
The beer list looked great: there was a Belgium Wit, a Bock, a Hefeweißbier and more. I was ready to taste. The waitress came back to take our order and was very friendly, but she came bearing bad news, they only had the světlé and the polotmavé. At this point, I felt the journey had not been worth it.
The světlé is a murky ležák with very little body and not much taste. Then we tried the polotmavé which was hardier and had a very nice, subtle yeast aroma and flavor. The journey would have been more worthwhile if the whole line-up had been available, check here for their offerings.
Novoměstský Pivovar – This is another touristy brewery that you will find just off Václavské náměstí. Check the website here.
Pivovarský Dům – Found near tram stop Štěpánská, they offer a wide selection of unfiltered, unpasteurized beers. Also, a large selection of flavored beers can be had at Pivovarský Dům. Another outlet for their beer is Pivovarký Klub.
Pražský Most U Valšů – Unfortunately (or fortunately) is no longer brewing their own beer, but do still operate as a pub. Found near the river, Pražský Most U Valšů will serve offerings from Rohozec. Hopefully they will pull it together and come back stronger than ever. I always root for these small brew pubs.
Třebonice – Třebonice brews some great beer. Unfortunately, from October to April the brewery’s opening hours are hit-and-miss, check the website before you make the trip (a trip worth making). Luckily it is possible to find their beers in bottles.
U Bulovky (Richter) – Is under the same ownership as Jihoměstský Pivovar and makes some great beers. Located in Libeň at tram stop Bulovka, check the website here.
U Dvou koček – Offers Pilsner Urquell along with their own brew to go along with the classic Czech menu. U Dvou koček is easy to find and worth a visit.
U Medvídků – Located in the center of Prague U Medvídků has some great, one-of-a-kind beers, including the high alcohol X-Beer33.
U Tří růží – Is the newest brew pub in Prague. This clean, well thought out space sits in a building where, in 1405, a brewmaster by the name of Beneš gained rights to brew. I like that the building is again doing what is was meant to do. In this surprisingly quit pub I recommend; the Vienna Red, brewed with Czech hops and a deep red malt, from, you guest it, Vienna. Recently there has been an American Light Lager on tap that is currently one of my favorite beers in town. It is light, aromatic and full of flavor. Treat yourself to a visit to U Tří růží (the food is good, too).
Břevnovský Klášter – The Benedictine monastery in Břevnov now has a brewery on their grounds. Technically, I guess, not a brew pub, but worth a mention. At the time of my visit the only beer from the brewery was the hard hitting 20º special. Their full line-up will be served at the restaurant Břevnovský Šenk (also on the grounds). And bottles are available. There will also be a selection at Pivovarský Dům.
The brew pubs of Prague are a big part of the beer scene and I have a special affection for them. They seem to encompass all that I appreciate when I want to go for a beer. Offering a meeting place for locals, providing hand-crafted, small batch brews, they have the freedom to experiment with different beers and styles. It’s worth taking the time to explore them all, and keep an eye out for a new ones popping up. So get out there and taste the best that Prague has to offer.