Prague is not in bad shape for beer, not by any means. Not only do we have U sadu, U kláštera and a few hundred other great pubs in town, but we also have about a dozen outstanding local beers, including one brewed by college students. Last month we had the Christmas Beer Markets to keep us warm. And now we’ve got a brand new brewpub in Praha 4-Nusle: Pivovar Bašta.
Also known as Sousedský pivovar U Bansethů (something like “neighborhood brewery U Bansethů”), Bašta sits just across from the nuselská radnice, next door to the old U Bansethů pub, a neighborhood stalwart for a century or so and a good source for Pilsner Urquell.
If you board an 18 tram or 193 bus at metro station Pražského povstání (C line), Bašta is just a few minutes away, right at the Nuselská radnice stop. Or if you take a 6 or 11 tram from metro station I.P. Pavlova (C line), you can get off at Náměstí bratří Synků and Bašta is less than 5 minutes away by foot. Alternately, you can catch the 18 tram at metro station Karlovo náměstí (B line) and take that to Nuselská radnice, which should take about 12 minutes. From the outside, it looks like this:
Inside, the atmosphere is classic hospoda, with traditional wood paneling rising halfway up the walls and lots of hooks for coats and caps. The menu board lists sadlo, grundle and other typical Czech pub treats, as well as four regular beers: pšeničné (wheat), světlý speciál (light special), tmavý speciál (dark special) and polotmavý speciál (half-dark special). But perhaps because Bašta just opened, supplies seem to be mysteriously limited.
On my first visit, only the polotmavý was available, a cloudy amber with a thick-set creamy head (pictured at the top of the page). Brewed at 12.5° Balling, it ends up with about 5% alcohol by volume. When I tasted it, it had a lovely nose that reminded me of a great single-malt — the roasted barley of the whisky, if not its alcohol. In the mouth it was almost chewy in its richness, with a strong caramel note, and the finish was a fair bit hoppier than I expected.
On a second visit, other beers were available. Remembering that he’d only had one beer the first time, the waiter made a point of telling me they now had the pšeničné and the světlý speciál. And then, a minute later, when I tried to order them, he said that they’d just run out again.
However, there was still something the waiter called a Bavorská třináctka (or Bavarian thirteen, apparently brewed at 13° and ending up with around 5.5% alcohol). In the dim light of the pub, the Bavorská was virtually indistinguishable from the polotmavý speciál.
At least in appearance. In flavor, it had much more malt sweetness, especially in the finish, and far less bitterness. It reminded me of a few beers in Bamberg, like the lovely Ungespundetes (or “U”) at Brauerei Spezial and the Ungespundet-hefetrüb at Mahr’s. Bašta’s polotmavý is no slouch, but that Bavorská třináctka was outstanding.
In a nod to the neighborhood (not one of Prague’s priciest), beers here are inexpensive, only 25 Kč per half-liter. In Prague, I’m generally comfortable spending up to about 37 Kč before I feel like I’m getting clipped (though I do regularly drop 49 Kč on the lovely Oldgott at U Medvídků, but that’s another story). At 25 Kč, I almost feel like I can’t afford not to have another, especially when they taste this good.
140 00 Praha 4–Nusle
(tram 18 or Bus 193 to station Nuselská radnice, or tram 6 or 11 to station Náměstí bratří Synků)
Tel.: +420 261 222 530
Pivovar Bašta is only the first of two new brewpubs opening in Prague, to catch us up with the other new brewpubs and breweries set to appear elsewhere in the Czech Republic. If you like good beer, I’d recommend visiting as soon as possible. A word of warning: I was told Bašta only opens after 3 p.m., so check the hours before you head out. And if the waiter says they have the pšeničné and the světlý speciál, order both of them immediately.