One of the best things I enjoyed doing in Prague was discovering their wonderful Czech beer, or pivo as it is called there. Never knew the Czech Republic made such good lagers but better late than never ever knowing, say what. Moreover, beer is arguably the cheapest beverage in the capital city – cheaper than water and Coke! – so, there’s no reason not to have it everyday! Here’s the best five I got to try in my way-too-short time there:
1. Pilsner Urquell
This golden lager is available in practically every Czech eatery and watering hole. Created in 1842 by a German, it’s the first Pilsner and the first light-coloured beer ever brewed. Served with a huge head of foam, it is light and bubbly and goes well with all kinds of traditional Czech cuisine. Most pubs place placed pretzels on the table to go with your pivo – however, unlike peanuts served elsewhere, these are not free, so don’t eat them as if there’s no tomorrow…
This is one of the oldest Czech beers there is, dating back to 1581, and is also the official beer of Prague Castle, the #1 attraction in the city. I didn’t consume this at the palace grounds though but in a cool restaurant-niteclub on the Old Town side. Deliciously refreshing nonetheless. It also has a dark version.
My hotel in Prague, the Hotel Cloister Inn, is the first hotel in all my travels to offer a free can of beer to its guests in the mini-bar (bless them!) Gambrinus is not commonly found in restaurants but most pubs worth their salt will have it on their beer list. Named after a legendary King of Flanders who was regarded as an icon of beer, it’s light and tasty but which probably would taste even better served with ice, or in a truly chilled can or mug.
If a Prague restaurant doesn’t have Pilsner Urquell on the menu, it will probably have Karel. The cheapest of the pivos I’d tried, it is darker and has a rich and slightly bitter taste. But just like the other local beers, it goes well with food, especially meats.
5. Budweiser Budvar
Thankfully, I read about the Czech Budweiser on a blog about European trains prior to arriving in Prague. I didn’t find this in the city but remembered it whilst ordering lunch on an express train on route to Vienna. And it’s really nice – bright golden yellow, crisp and full of flavours, a great complement to my meal comprising pepper venison and bacon bread dumplings. Definitely much better than its American counterpart.
So, when in Prague, do make time for an evening of pub-crawling where you can try out a dozen beer brands for a fee, or eke out a visit to a brewery (usually require a day trip). There are even beer spas(!) according to a flyer I was given, although I personally would not recommend it ‘cos beer should be drank and not bathe in… Excuse me now while I go get meself a beer as writing about all this has made me real thirsty. Cheers!