Beer Culture

Stories about great beer from the countries that invented it.

Tag: Prague (Page 1 of 2)

When Grodziskie Returns

All my boddhisatvas appear on the streets of Staré Město.

We were on Dlouhá, close to Lokál, and Jonas was just waking up from his afternoon nap; I was wet from the rainstorm that had just passed. I was pushing his carriage towards a couple of errands and then home when I saw a friend from the Prague beer scene ahead of us on the sidewalk.

“How are things?” he asked, smiling.

“Good but busy,” I said. “I started brewing.”

“How much?” he asked.

I did some quick math. “Zero point twenty-two hectoliters.”

“And what kind of beer?”

“Well, the first batch was a saison, because it was 29 degrees in the apartment last week.”


“Yeah, it smells like black pepper. Tastes great. And today Jonas and I are going to brew a wit.”

“A wit sounds good right about now.”

“I’m looking forward to it. Do you know there’s going to be a new pub here, called the Prague Beer Museum, with something like 30 Czech craft beers on draft?”

“Where, around the corner somewhere?”

“No, right there on Dlouhá. There,” I said, pointing across the street.  “Where the Tom Tom Bar used to be.”

“So something like Zlý Časy?”

“Yeah, only here in the center.”

“Great news. Oh, and before I forget,” he said, “today we’re brewing the Grodziskie.”

“Wow. Where’d you get the…”


“No, the malt.”

“We’re using smoked malt from Weyermann. But the yeast we got direct from Grodzisk.”

“So, in about a month?”

“Yes,” he smiled. “In about a month.”

And with that my boddhisatva said goodbye, shaking my hand and touching Jonas’s cheek before striding deeper into Old Town. And as we pushed off down Dlouhá towards our errands, and then home, both of us were grinning.

A Belgian Beer Festival in Prague, 23-25 October

God bless the good souls over at Svět Piva and the Mandarin Oriental: this month brings another big beer event, this time focusing on the land of Cantillon. From Friday, October 23, through Sunday, October 25, the hotel will host a Belgian beer festival called “Belgium in the Glass and on the Plate,” sponsored in part by the Flanders Tourism Information Office.

The early details:

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The Growing Fourth Pipe Phenomenon: Klášterní Pivnice


The phenomenon of the čtvrtá pípa — or fourth pipe — just keeps on growing: slowly but steadily, more and more pub owners in Prague are switching over from monopolistic suds to beers from independent brewers, often on a tap they own themselves, rather than the three taps installed and owned by a major brewing group. It’s an interesting concept: when I wrote about it earlier this year for Prague Monitor Magazine, the term earned a note at the Schott’s Vocab weblog (“a miscellany of modern words and phrases”) at the New York Times.

Max Bahnson just covered two new čtvrtá pípa pubs at his Pivní filosof weblog, with not such great results. But there’s another fourth pipe pub which is a total winner: the Klášterní pivnice near Letná in Prague 7.

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Hotel Beers: Pivovarský dům in Bottles and the Return of Svatý Tomáš


In this part of the world, three of the most important words in contemporary beer culture are draft, draft and draft, with bottled beers making up a smaller (though growing) percentage of sales. For a long time, one of the only bottled beers from Prague’s Pivovarský dům brewpub was their Champagne-like Šamp, made off-site at a local producer with excess capacity. But now, the Czech capital’s revered brewpub is offering its classic dark lager in swing-tops.

But there’s a catch.

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Pražský Most u Valšů


Sometimes it takes a while for a beer or a brewery to find high gear. A year ago, when the new Prague brewpub Pražský most u Valšů first tapped its own brew, it didn’t make quite the same splash as Pivovar Bašta a few months earlier. Only one beer was available, a traditional pale lager, and it didn’t do much for people who care about good Czech beer. Max Bahnson said it was nothing to write home about. I had the same impression, in as much as I stopped by, ate lunch, tried the beer, and didn’t even bother writing about it.

What a difference a year makes. Now there are two beers available, and at least one of them’s a firecracker.

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Kout na Šumavě in the Dancing Building


You say tomato, I say rajčatka: there’s more than one way to name almost everything in this city. Take, for example, the Dancing House, also known as the Dancing Building, locally called Tančící dům, although its official title is the slightly less-romantic Nationale-Nederlanden Building. Designed by Frank Gehry and Vlado Milunić, the building’s resemblance to a dancing couple earned it yet another nickname: Fred and Ginger. (I usually just say Dancing House myself.) It remains one of the most visited and most frequently photographed sites in Prague.

So what does that have to do with great beer? As of last month, the building’s newly renamed café and restaurant became only the second place in Prague to regularly stock beer from Pivovar Kout na Šumavě, one of the country’s best craft brewers.

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Bohemia Regent Beer at Prague’s Art-Café u Irmy

Ron Pattinson has written about U rotundy, one of his favorite rough pubs. It might have its charms, but for me there are two good reasons not to pick U rotundy: one, they serve Staropramen, which you could get just about anywhere else in Prague if you wanted it. And more importantly: just two doors down the very same street is Art-Café u Irmy, which you might call a “rough café.” In addition to great inexpensive Georgian food — as in the country, not the American state, nor the historical era — u Irmy is one of the few places in town where you can get draft Bohemia Regent.

Many thanks to reader James for the tip, as well as pointing out the café’s excellent atmosphere, like a wacky house party where all the characters come from different corners of the old soviet sphere of influence. The food, as well, is an eastern treat: great dolmas, outstanding lobio (Georgian red beans with red onions, pomegranate seeds and coriander), borscht, chačapuri (cheese bread), čachochbili (chicken and red-pepper stew), sacivi (walnut sauce) and chinkali (beef dumplings). How could U rotundy possibly compete with that?

And then there is the beer.

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Prague’s Christmas Beer Markets 2008

Last year saw the inauguration of Prague’s Christmas Beer Markets (Vánoční pivní trhy), much like the Christmas markets that appear all around Europe at this time of year, only with a serious malt-and-hops theme. Taking place in a vast pavilion at Prague’s Výstaviště exhibition grounds, the first edition featured craft and specialty beers from around the Czech Republic, as well as brews from Slovakia’s Kaltenecker.

This year, the Christmas Beer Markets will return in a more refined locale: inside Prague’s Mandarin Oriental Hotel, which will host the 2008 Christmas Beer Markets on December 20, 21 and 22.

The final details are still being set, but the early outline for this year’s festival sounds terrific.

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Prague’s Lost Breweries

There are currently just 11 breweries in Prague: ten micros (U Fleků, Pivovarský dům, Novoměstský pivovar, Richter, the university brewery at Suchdol, the closed-to-the-public school brewery at SPŠPT, Klášterní pivovar Strahov, Pivovar Bašta at U Bansethů, U Medvídků and the new U Valšů) and just one mega-brewer, Staropramen.

But of course years ago there were dozens of small brewers all over the Czech capital. The Czech national archives have plenty of references to brewers who haven’t been around for years, many of which were in locations around Prague that might surprise you.

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Vienna and Vienna Lager


I have a story about new restaurants in Vienna in this weekend’s NYT. This is another Choice Tables feature, not a beer story, but I had to include the very good Rotes Zwickl from Ottakringer, which I liked a lot as the house beer at the excellent restaurant Österreicher im MAK (whose taps are pictured above). In the story, I wrote that this is one of the few beers in Vienna to come close to the nearly extinct Vienna lager style. Before any BJCP-style-guidelines-citing readers comment that a red Zwickl isn’t anything like Vienna lager, I’ll quickly link to Conrad Seidl’s piece on a real Vienna lager from Brauerei Villach, in which he writes (my translation):

“…but in Vienna, the local beer style was no more. Of Austrian beers, Hadmar (Bierwerkstatt Weitra) and the Rotes Zwickl from Ottakringer came the closest.”

What is interesting about the Vienna lager style is that, after it died out at home, related beers continued to exist in a couple of places: Mexico, for one, and in the Czech lands. (As Ron Pattinson wrote, “Vienna lagers aren’t dead: they’ve just moved over the border.”) In fact, this is one of the four current Czech beer trends I mentioned in The Truth about Budvar and in a post on Prague’s newest brewpub, Bašta.

Nope, those beers aren’t dead. They’re absolutely thriving here.

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