Beer Culture

Stories about great beer from the countries that invented it.

U Radnice Pub in Prague

There’s a new trend in Prague pubs: rotating beer selections. The widest range is probably at Pivovarský klub, whose six taps change constantly to include various brews from around the country and around Europe (mostly from small, regional producers, with Pivovarský dům’s Štěpán and Primátor’s Weizenbier enjoying near-štamgast status at taps 5 and 6, respectively).

Other Prague pubs with rotating taps include the great První pivní tramway and Zlý časy, described by Max Bahnson as a font of great beers and good goulash. Following that post, Jay commented that the same sort of things were taking place on at U Radnice in Prague 3, a Žižkov stronghold for Podkováň beer when I listed it in Good Beer Guide Prague and the Czech Republic, but which switched breweries to Rohozec after Podkováň closed before branching out to include a wider selection.

This week I stopped by to see what they’ve got on tap.

Plenty of good stuff, it turns out. Despite the signs out front and throughout the pub, there was nothing from Krakonoš to seen. When I visited, six beers were listed (a few with dubious spellings):

  • 14° Kvasar from Černá Hora.
  • Světozor from Pivovar Nová Paka (brewed for Prague’s Světozor cinema).
  • 10° světlé výčepní pivo from Rohozec.
  • Zázvorové (ginger) pivo from the brewpub Pivovarsky Dvur Zvíkov.
  • 13° dark from Pivovarsky Dvur Zvíkov.
  • Pardubický Porter (listed as “19° Poter”)

I ordered a Pardubický Porter, which fared well in a recent comparison of beers in the Baltic Porter style, and which I’ve found myself enjoying more and more of late: a strong black beer, treacly and hinting of licorice.

And then I was stuck. The first three were too familiar; Zvíkov’s great 13° dark turned out to be out of stock. And I’ve never been crazy for ginger-flavored lager. But I couldn’t remember trying Zvíkov’s version, so I knew what I had to do.

Fellow beer traveler Rob seems to be flexing his musculature behind the two glasses, and I myself felt I had to get somewhat pumped up before trying it (I hate ginger-flavored beers, I kept saying, I just hate them).

It was the last of the keg, and the beers arrived as cloudy as hell. At first they seemed to be well on their way out, with a surprising amount of horse blanket and barnyard in the nose, suggesting brettanomyces. And then it became clear that this was not one of the ginger-flavored lagers I’d had (and hated) before, but rather what seemed to be a ginger wheat beer, which contributed the slightest spicy notes to the finish, and which probably also added to the tastes of pink grapefruit and Meyer lemons. It might have been on its way out, but it was still a deliciously light beer for a hot afternoon.

We ordered two more half-pints which were even cloudier and which tasted even better, spicy and sour like a Central European take on a great Belgian Wit. Finally convinced, we asked for a third: this time two large beers.

No dice, the bartender said. Those were the last of what we had.

When will you get more of it? I asked.

Maybe never, the bartender said. The beers here rotate — it’s different every week.

U Radnice
Havlíčkovo nám. 7, Prague 3–Žižkov
Phone: 222 782 713
Tram 5, 9 or 26 to Lipanská
Bus 136 to Rokycanova


Czech Beer Fest Update


Klostermann Amber Lager


  1. You had actually tasted that beer. It was at the SPP awards last year in Zvíkov. I do remember you liked it a lot. But you can’t be blamed for forgetting about it, we had 15 different beers that day.
    Anyway, it might be too soon to be talking about a trend, but for what I know, Zlý Časy are doing very well with their rotating beers, with many people ordering the less “traditional” stuff. They had that Zazvorové a couple of weeks ago, and it sold out very quickly, same happened with Vandorf Rauchweizen.
    What should be remarked, though, is that U Radnice, Zlý Časy and Tramvaj are your typical corner hospoda. Their average patron is not a member of the pivní intelligentsia and company managers, as is the case with the Klub, but the blokes that will drink seas of Gambáč, yet don’t seem to have any problem with trying other stuff when available, and stick to it.
    Obviously, the business model works be it for the Klub or these three hospody, and it is also obvious that there is a growing interest in beers from smaller breweries as the Beer Festival has shown us.
    Could it be that the tide is starting to turn? I truly hope so.

  2. Rob

    I wasn’t ‘flexing’ as such; merely resting my drinking arm. That’s the real reason I go to the BBC (to work on the ole forearm flexors). A good grip is *so* important in maintaining a steady smooth quaffing action you see. And they’re also quite handy for the ‘Rhesus Monkey Tram Hang’ on the way back home.

  3. Misak

    In response to Pivero’s comment above, I don’t think it’s so much a growing interest as a change in the availability on the market. For the consumer’s part the reason people drink ‘seas of Gambac’ is that there is nothing else available, at least, nothing else available in your corner pub. But I’ve never seen a Czech who wouldn’t try out a new beer if it was available. The fault was the aggressive behaviour of the big players and, to a lesser extent, the restaurants and pubs that let themselves be enticed/muscled. How many pubs and restaurants over just the past five years slowly take down their Herold, Platan, hell even Kozel signs to plaster up shiny new Staropramen or Gambrinus or even Budvar ones. A pub near where I live used to be called Na Krusarne, because they served Krusovice. Now they serve Staropramen and have one of those gaudy green signs with the shortened name “Na Krus” stuck on top of their old carved wooden sign. Of course Krusovice is hardly small, nor very good.
    But I digress. I’ll drink staropramen too, or gambrinus, or whatever else is on tap where I am. Because like most normal people I don’t have the time or money to go out of my way to sip tiny glasses of ‘nutty’ beers in some snob pub. But if the people who are doing that are paving away to reverse the monopolisation trend and bring back normal small-time beers to normal pubs, then sip away friends…

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