I spent much of Tuesday with el Pivero, first with a stop for lunch at Zlý časy out at náměstí Bratří Synků in Prague 4-Nusle. I used to live around the corner, so it was interesting to see how much the neighborhood has changed. First there’s the new brewpub, Bašta. Just a short stumble away is Zlý časy, an atmospheric cellar pub with two rotating taps of special beers in addition to regular brews from rarely seen Kácov.
On our visit, Zlý časy’s two special taps were dedicated to favorites from far-off brewpubs: the hoppy ležák from Moritz in Olomouc and the excellent (and fruity) wheat beer from U krále Ječmínka in Prostějov. I’d enjoyed both while researching Good Beer Guide Prague and the Czech Republic, but I’ve never seen either in Prague. The lunch wasn’t bad either, just like el Pivero said.
And then he mentioned something that made me want to get up and walk across town. Pivovarský dům, sister bar to Pivovarský klub and one of the centers of beer culture in Prague, had supposedly installed a handpump.
That is, a proper, CAMRA-approved, British handpump. Right here in Lagerland.
So Señor Pivero and I finished our beers, walked over to Štěpánská and stuck our heads in the door at Pivovarský dům. They had the full run of beers, including what must be the last few liters of their special májový kozlík, a very rich amber Maibock. And right next to all the gas taps was the shiny new handpump.
It wasn’t hooked up as of yesterday, but the waitress said it should be working within the next month or so. When asked what it would draft, she said stout. Their own, apparently.
Which is more than coincidental, as the new stout from the Pivovar Kocour Varnsdorf has been on draft at Pivovarský klub for most of the past week. It’s like a big chocolate bonbon, full of flavor and yet not too sweet. It’s excellent, but it might be even better drawn via handpump.
Why does it make a difference? Connoisseurs of real ales say that the mouthfeel and taste of handpumped beers are vastly superior to those pumped by carbon dioxide, which tends to make drinks fizzy and flavorless. (Explanations, protestations, allegations and fighting words to the subject are welcome in the comments.)
So: is this really the only handpump in Prague? (I imagine one of the tourist-trap Irish bars might have one. But do they really count?)
Considering pale lagers constitute 95% of consumption here, having just two *real* stouts on draft in Prague might not seem like much — but it is a start. And while this handpump might be the first to appear here, I doubt if it’s the last.
If you’re interested in trying unusual beers, Zlý časy is a great alternative to Pivovarský klub. From the outside it looks like this:
and here’s the contact information:Zlý časy zlycasy.eu Čestmírova 5 Praha 4–Nusle Tel. 604 241 454
At station Náměstí Bratří Synků (tram 6 or 11 from metro station I.P. Pavlova or bus 193 from metro station Pražského povstání), not far from the new brewpub Pivovar Bašta.