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An Ode to Beer

Czech beer
Homemade beer bread
Bar en Praga
Beer spa
Goulash y cerveza

Deciding which beer to choose can quickly turn into a dilemma. Some bars in Prague have more than 20 local and international brands of liquid gold on tap.
The Czech Republic leads the world in beer consumption per head (137 litres per person). Not only do Czechs love beer, they also look after it. Czech beer carries the Protected Geographical Indication of the European Union. So, the first word you’ll learn when you travel to Prague is pivo, which means beer. You’ll see the word Pivovar on the signs of breweries. In October 1842, Pilsner or Pilsener pivo was invented, revolutionising the beer industry, and becoming the most popular in the world, and it remains so today. Since then, so many breweries, types and brands have emerged that it poses a difficult question for the discerning palate, which won’t settle for just any lager: which of the more than 20 brands on offer to try? Perhaps you’re thinking the solution is to try them all. It’s best to go with your intuition or ask for the waiter’s recommendation.

One option is to visit the charming medieval-looking taverns scattered around the Old Town, which brew beer on-site, some for centuries. They all have one thing in common: the drinks have a fresh and natural taste, like everything handmade. And, why not, you can accompany your beer with the typical Czech cuisine that is served in most places, for example in U Pinkasů, just a few steps from Wenceslas Square and the first place in the city to serve the famous Pilsner back in 1843.

The most famous and oldest brewery in the city is U Fleků. Located in the historic centre of Prague, it is a place of pilgrimage. Every year, 250,000 litres of liquid gold are consumed here. And make sure you try the black beer; it’s not to be missed. You can also hire the services of one of the companies running tours of the breweries around the centre of Prague with visits to typical cellars, beer tastings… Prices are usually under 300 CZK, bearing in mind that children under 12 don’t pay and the tours last around three hours.

Prague is overflowing with beer shops. Some of them are in the taverns themselves and sell souvenirs including decorated or plain mugs and, of course, bottled beer. Others offer typical sausage tastings. Some have exotic foreign beers or let you taste different types so you can decide which to buy. Zlý Časy is the iconic Prague beerhouse.

Beer lovers can take their fascination a step further and visit one of several spas, where you can bathe in the liquid gold and reap the benefits of the ingredients on your skin; the vitamins are said to decongest the pores, improve acne and renew the skin… The Beerland spa circuit consists of a hydromassage in a 1000-litre barrel, a barrel sauna, unlimited beer consumption, a rest on a straw bed next to the chimney and homemade bread and beer tasting. The 1000-litre barrel is not filled with beer, but with water enriched with ingredients such as hops and yeast.

Quintessential brewery

The most famous Prague beer, with the exception of Pilsner, is Staropramen, which has a factory in the Smíchov district dating back to 1869. It is currently the second largest Czech beer manufacturer. Visitors can discover the secrets of this beer in the visitor centre and, of course, attend a tasting session.

Oktoberfest in Prague

The Czech Beer Festival held in Prague is the ideal place to raise a toast with a 1-litre beer jug called a tuplák. Here you can taste more than 70 Czech beer brands and more than 120 varieties. 10,000 seats and waiters dressed in traditional Czech costume make this the liveliest and biggest beer festival in the Czech Republic.

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