Most Czech beers are lagers, naturally brewed from hand-picked hops. Czechs like their beer cellar temperature with a creamy, tall head. When ordering draught beer ask for “male pivo” (0,3l) or “pivo” (0,5l).
The best known Czech beer is the original Pilsner beer, Pilsner Urquell, brewed in the town of Plzen and exported worldwide. Many Czechs also like another Plzen brew, Gambrinus, but recently Bernard from Eastern Bohemia, was voted best beer of the year.
The most widely exported Czech Beer is Budvar (Budweiser in German), the name of which is also used by an unrelated American brew. A newish beer with a fine and very smooth taste is Velvet, in light form, or Kelt, as a dark beer from Prague breweries. Other Prague home brands are Smichovsky Staropramen and Branik.
The Czechs have been drinking beer since time immemorial. The secret of Czech beer is that the agricultural conditions are ideal for growing hops, and chronicles establish their cultivation in Bohemia as early as 859 A.D., while the first evidence of their export dates back to 903.
Czech beer is delicious and extremely cheap, its one of the reasons why so many people come here for Stag and hen parties aswell as Birthdays.
In Prague, they don't do it like in the US. You don't walk up to the bar and see 15 different brews on tap. Each place serves ONE brand of beer and that's it.
So, if you know there's a particular brand you want to try, look for the sign. That's how you'll be able to identify who's selling what.
Countless times we saw people sitting down in a place and try to order a beer only to be told by the server that they didn't serve that brand. Some people didn't care and just ordered whatever the place had. But others would get upset that they had to get up and leave because they couldn't get their favorite beer.
Just be aware of this and look at the logos on the windows and such before you go in.
"Damn, that beer is good!," I say to American companions as I lower my glass of Pilsner Urquell. The first sip of beer after 24 hours of travel time is always excellent, isn't it? On the second sip a quizzical expression crosses my face as my brain involuntarily begins to flip through an internal card cataloguing system looking for points of reference. On the third sip my eyes widen, I can feel tears welling, and my mouth hangs agape. "Holy God! This is the best tasting beer I've ever had in my life!" And even as I announce this, I realize it's a gigantic understatement. This is in fact the best tasting liquid I've ever had in my mouth... The divine, the nectar of gods, the drink I've forever been searching for--the ultimate source!
Pilser Urquell ("Plzensky Prazdroj" in Czech) began brewing in 1842 in the town of Pilsen, Czech Republic not very far from Prague. It's the world's original pilsner beer. It's made with unbelievably beautiful water, hops from Saaz, and is a light, golden colour. And they only cost about $2 each?!
I drank four litres chatting with my American friends, trying to contain my enthusiasm for this newfound drink. After I walk them back to the hotel, I search the surrounding block for pubs and find one five doors down from my accommodation's entrance. Fantastic! I park myself on a barstool and proceed to drink four more litres of Pilsner Urquell, making some cool Czech drinking buddies in the process. Little did I know at the time that this would become my template for the following week.
I wake up early the next morning, fully expecting and deserving a full-blown hangover. But there's nothing. Nothing! I have a glass of water, put some eye drops in, and I feel great--hungry for breakfast ready to take on the world!
The next few days are hot and humid, around 30C (90F), and I drink lots of pilsner--indeed, I'm half-hammered most of my vacation. ...And I can't seem to stop. I quickly get into the habit of answering "Pils!," whenever a waiter asks what I'd like to drink.
Honestly, if I lived in this country, the beer would be the ruin of me and my liver. But screw health, ask for "pils," while in Prague! Na Zdravi!
The Czechs are a people of beerdrinkers. Needless to say that they are also a nation of brewers. There are two major types of beer, light and dark. Light is pilsner, the type of lager invented in the town of Pilsen (now Plzen) in the 19th century. These are bitter thanks to a gratuitious amount of hop, which is grown also in the country. Try a few different brands and taste for yourself what inferior imitations like Bud and Heineken are doing wrong. Some examples are Urquell and Budweiser/Budvar (which has nothing to do with the American stuff, the Czech one actually IS drinkable). Novometski Pivovar is a brewpub that makes its own. See my restaurant tips for more.
More interesting to me are the dark beers. These are less hoppy than the light beers but are often more complex in taste. Hints of chocolate or coffee (not that there's any of these in the beer!) can be tasted. Some are similar to stout (like Guinness for example). One of my favourites is Krusovice, which can compete with Guinness any time, another good one I tasted is Kelt. U Fleku, the oldest brewpub in Prague, makes an excellent one too, but you will have to visit the place to taste it, which requires a little advance warning (see my restaurant tips).
The local brand of beer of Prague is Staropramen, which unfortunately is owned by the Belgian company Inbev (formerly known as Interbrew) which uses the brewery as a bridgehead to push their own stuff on the people in Prague and eventually get other breweries out of business. Normally I prefer not to to drink any /InterbrewInbev beer, now that I still have the choice, but I would have made an exception for Staropramen if it wasn't so easy to get at home. It is after all good beer. I only hope that the brewery will be in business for a long time to come, and that its beers will remain as goods as they are. Somehow I'm afraid that that is not going to happen. Where InBev rears its ugly head quality is bound to lose.
Beer is considered a part of the national heritage of the Czech Republic, therefore the Czechs are one of the top beer-brewing nations in the world today.
Popular Czech beer brands are: Plzensky Prazdroj (Pilsner Urquel), Gambrinus, Radegast, Velkopopovicky kozel, Budvar and Staropramen. Apart from these, there is a long list of beers brewed in smaller regional breweries.
The local beer Starapromen, Krusovice, and Budvar is better than the crap you get in the U.K , U.S and Australia so drink it at all times , you definately shouldn't pay more than one pound for a half litre.
If you see anyone drinking imported beer throw them in the river , if its Rolling Rock tie them up first.
For those looking for the smaller Breweries-
St Norberts, inside St Norberts Monastery, by the entrance to Petrin Park, near the Castle. Very tasty dark and light beers, pricy at 49Krs for 400ml, but worth trying.
Old Gott Brewery, within U Medvicku, near Tescos. 48Krs for 400ml, strong and dark, and worth a try, but not particularly to my taste. I went back to Budvar light and dark in the main Pub at 26Krs for 500ml!
Pivovarsky Dum (Between IP Pavlova and Charles Square), cheaper than the others at about 30Krs for 500ml - Not such a specialised taste, but good light and dark beers, and I particularly liked the Mixed Beer, and the Wheat Beer of the speciality beers. Not so keen on the coffee, sour cherry, banana or chilli ones, and I was glad I only had small tasters!
I have not yet tried U Fleku or the New Brewery, so cannot comment on those.
I also quite liked the Kelt Czech Stout, not a classic beer by any means, but a welcome break from the fizzy lagers.
Also, I think that the quality of Puilsener Urquell has dropped since being taken over by one of the Mega-fizz Conglomerates and 'modern' brewery processes were introduced.
Avoid the tourist bars, just observe where the locals are heading at lunchtime. Check the alleyways, they don`t want to eat lunch with tourists so they don`t advertise with A-board street signs and these are the best. Expect to pay 26 - 32 Kr for 500ml of the good stuff. Gambrinus is about 4% so can be supped all day, Urquell/Budvar etc are around 5% ABV - Tip the staff 10% and enjoy the finest beer in the world!!
Statistically Czechs are one of the top beer drinkers in Europe. There are huge species of beer possible to buy in shops. Actually beer here is not only used for drinking, but also to make soaps, shampoo, as an extra add for food (eg., sausages with sauce of black beer), so on.
Interesting things I got to see in pubs:
Firstly, if you are ending one pint of beer, barman brings you other one without asking. To stop it, as I understood, you have simply to tell it, to put coaster on a pint or to finish beer fast :) Actually such tradition is alive in not so touristy places (could be in “sleeping” suburb).
Another thing is a paper with sign (line) left on your table when you order beer. For food is the same, just barmen put the line and writes price nearby.
If you order different species of beer at the same evening, it could be understood as “lack of beer drinking culture”.
I'm a beer person so to me Prague was the first beer shangri-la I visited. The beers we brew in my country are "tipo Pilsner" (Pilsner type) so the beers in Prague tasted very much like those I grew up around with. It felt like a little like at home.
This place was great! It is near the powder tower and the Obecni Dum (the Municipal House). You go to Hybernská street and then turn right in Dlazena. The place is called Tluslká Koala and it's full of local people and some tourists. Their dark beer taste very good. It has nothing to do with Guiness. The flavor is much lighter and refreshing. Half a litter cost you 34 crowns! Here you can also eat local "tapas" Czech people eat while drinking. My Czech friends recommended me to try pickled sausages and also spicy cheese with oil. I don't remember the names because I didn't have time to try them! next time i hope...
I knew a lot about Czech beer going into our trip, and I am a huge fan of beer, in general. One thing I didn't realize is how much of a difference there is with beer on tap versus beer in a bottle.
I have enjoyed Pilsner Urquell and understand how it was the original, hence Ur-quell. And I liked it in a bottle, but living in the States that's about all we get. I did have some Urquell on tap in the States once, but it still wasn't as good as the fresh, fresh, fresh Urquell we had in Prague.
I heard from other tourists there and also from the locals that the beer is much easier to drink on tap and some people who don't like beer quickly change their minds when they try the fresh stuff.
We tried all of the following on tap: Pilsner Urquell, Budvar, Gambrinus, Krusovice and Krusovice dark.
It also makes a difference where you get the beer - make sure it is a locally respected place so the lines are clean and the kegs are fresh. You will not be disappointed.
Prices: If you pay more than 30 Kc, you must be in a tourist area. We found a few places where it was 26-28 Kc. If you get well away from the tourist areas it will be even less. But it's not necessarily bad to pay more - you may simply be paying for ambience or location. And that's okay as long as you enjoy yourself.
...make sure you look in the eyes of your friends rather than at the glasses - otherwise, people will think that you care more about spilling your drink than about your drinking buddies. A great custom, if you ask me - just reminds you that drinking here is viewed as more about fun & friendship, less about pure intoxication :)
"Pivo" is Czech for beer, and the Czech Republic is famous for it. Not only is it home to the world's first pilsner, but more people drink beer per capita in the Czech Republic than anywhere else on the planet! And the great thing is that when you're in a pub, you can just ask for "pivo" and you get the house beer on tap.... none of this nonsense selection... just gimme a beer!
There is a long and rich tradition of brewing in Czech Republic. It is the land of Lager beer. You must enjoy some!
Just couple words before you will make decision what to have?
10° and up degrees: A 10 degree means that if the extract in solution were 100% sucrose, it would be 10% of the total weight.
Remember that 10 degree beer is about 4% alcohol and a 12 degree is about 5%.
Primator’s Exclusive 16° is 6.5% alcohol and 19° Porter from Pernstejn is 8% alcohol, 10 degrees Plato (or Balling) is 4% alcohol.
LIGHT Beer: If you just ask for a “Beer” with no other specifications most places will bring you a light 10° (large size of course). These beers have a nice balanced flavor with a very pleasant mild bitterness.
DARK Beer: it is typically a more flavorful beer with some sweetness to it. U Fleku's 'Flek' dark beer is one of the oldest and most famous dark beers and you can get it only at the brewery restaurant.
In the NEW category are several Super-Strong beers ranging up to 24° (10% alcohol!).