For this post, I’ve had to branch out and ask for the assistance of not just one source, but now two. Much of my perceptions of Bohemian beer are based on the handful of pubs and breweries I have visited either with my Turkish roommate in the fall semester last year and then more later with my boyfriend in the beginning of last summer. But, I thought it would also be interesting to ask an old friend who has lived his entire life in Prague and has also spent a lot of time outside of the city around Bohemia. He is like most Czechs, a general fan of beer, but he’s also shown me that he is very opinionated when it comes to his home region’s brews. I thought it was only fair to ask an “expert” for his beer recommendations before I began to write about my own. Other than to inform me about a brewery that I had not heard of but he says is important to the region, most of his beer picks match up with what I would have suggested to drink in Czech Republic.
Let’s talk about Kozel. Kozel is my favorite Czech beer. It’s also high on the list of both my sources. If all three of us agree on Kozel’s awesomeness, then it must be good. A cold half of a liter of it is also pictured to the right among all my fancy widgets. As you can tell, that is a picture of a dark lager. Kozel or Velkopopvický Kozel, as is its actual brand name, has four kinds of brews to offer: Kozel Světlý (light), which is 10 degrees (4%) and a pale lager (its color reminds me of autumn leaves). You can also find the pale lager in an 11 degree version, which has .6% more ABV in it, and also a 12 degree version (4.8%). But my favorite is Kozel Černý (black), their dark lager that is less than 10 degrees because it has a bit of an after-taste that reminds me of coffee. (Also, I can ultimately drink more of it, since it has less alcohol and I drink this beer strictly because I enjoy the taste. . .not the buzz.) Kozel is based in Popovice (Velké–or big–Popovice), which is relatively close to Prague, so if you are visiting Prague you ought to take a day trip to the brewery. Tours are only about 100 crowns (in Czech) or 130 crowns if conducted in a foreign language (German, English, Russian, French, or Polish) and they have a flat group rate of about 310 crowns. I haven’t been to this brewery, because I had a very limited budget for trips outside of Brno and made my day trip for the Bohemian Region Kutná Hora so that I can see a very famous church with its entire interior decor made out of bones. (Maybe I will post about it at a later date, because I realize that I haven’t actually talked about it on any of my media.) When I go back, I will definitely make the trip to this brewery though.
The next beer I am supposed to talk about, as suggested by my Prague source, is Budvar (or Budweiser as it is known by in German-speaking countries). This beer has absolutely nothing to do with Anheuser-Busch (trust me, I’m from St. Louis, this is not the same beer as what is advertised as Budweiser in the States. . .it’s much better). It’s widely known across Europe that Adolphus Busch pretty much took the recipe for the American pilsner version from Budovice, as it’s known today (or Budweis as it was known when Czech Republic was considered a part of the Hapsburg Empire and had a very strong German-speaking population). The Budovice brewery though has been around in various forms since the 14th century. It’s also located in a very gorgeous part of Bohemia that you should just spend a few days or a weekend in, and while you’re there you might as well check out the brewery and fill up on Budvar. Right now, Budvar has a special Black cherry flavor out, by the way.
On my last week in Czech Republic last summer, the boyfriend and I visited Pivovar U Medvídků in Prague in Staré Město. The brewery produced beer from 1466 until 1898. During the time of socialism and communism in Czech Republic, the building was seized by the government and it was not returned until 1989. The new owners of the building turned it into a hotel and recently restored its brewery, where they now produce several types of beer that you can only get in a well-hidden part of the building. When I was there, I tried their special brew called “1466.” It is called that to commemorate the founding of the brewery, and also because it has exactly 14,66 degrees (6.1% ABV).
(1466 is the lighter colored one.)
I intend to go back to this place a few more times because they have several other kinds of beer that have sparked my interest. Also, they have a very long menu full of traditional Czech, Slovakian, Polish, and Austrian meals. They have a “bílé” beer with 12 degrees alcohol content. They have something called “Blackgott” (gott=god in German) with 14 degrees alcohol content (5.8% ABV). They have a beer that is supposed to taste like honey called “Medvídek” (or little bear), that I am interested in trying. They also have two brews geared toward women on the bottom of their list.
dumplings filled with smoked pork meat and served in gravy, sauerkraut, fried onions, and pickled beets from Pivovar U Medvídků
Finally, I would like to discuss a pub Petr (the boyfriend) and I went to with his friends in Prague, called Hostinec U Vodoucha. This pub is located in the Žižkov part of Prague and is very cozy and traditionally Czech. It attracts quite a crowd of people, who occasionally erupt into Czech drinking songs. But this is a very special pub. Not only are they known for having really good starters,specifically, some kind of spread made out of liver that is served with awesome Czech rye bread, and something Petr at that was served to him in a jar and made his breath smell like vinegar, onions, and garlic. I had none of that second thing with all the nasty stuff in it (I don’t like raw onions and I am mildly allergic to large amounts of fresh garlic), but the liver spread was surprisingly pleasant. Also, I had this not-so-Czech casserole dish later in the evening in order to subdue all the fruit liquor shots I did:
In conclusion, I would also return to this pub. The wait staff were very friendly and accommodating, despite my being a foreigner and having issues with the language (okay, my boyfriend helped me out a bit. . .or a lot). They also have a very long list of beer on tap that comes from small breweries throughout the Czech Republic (and Czech Republic has a lot of breweries), so this is a good place to go if you want to try a lot of different kinds of brews in a very short amount of time. (See the list here: http://uvodoucha.pivovarkostelec.cz/uvod sorry the website is only available in Czech!) But, it would probably be best if you want to venture to this pub, to make friends with some Czechs and go with them because they didn’t have English menus (well, it’s not like I need an English menu for food after 11 months there, but for beer I was kind of confused by the beer descriptions in Czech).
Next week, I will post another entry about Prague and Bohemian beers, because both my sources’ lists are even longer than this entry can be.