Prague is a beautiful city. One of the most beautiful in Europe. The architecture spans the history of the continent with magnificent buildings ranging in style from the Romanesque, Gothic and Baroque to the most contemporary European designs. Cathedrals, gold-tipped towers and church domes dominate the vista when viewed from the hill on the eastern side of the Vltava river.
There are dark lagers and blond bocks and a smattering of other beers, but pilsner is king and has been so since the mid 1800s.
Fifteen bridges cross the Vltava and one of them, The Charles Bridge is reserved for pedestrians. Because Prague is an intensely visited city, walking across the crowded Charles Bridge to Prague Castle at the top of the hill can be an adventure. On a hot sunny day – even on a cold winter day – this walk can make a traveler thirsty. Luckily, there is a brewpub near the castle. The Klasterni Pivovar is the perfect spot to stop for a beer, whether one’s fancy is a classic Czech pilsner or one of Klasterni’s specialties, such as a hoppy Easter beer, a sweet, dark lager or an amber lager.
Crossing back over the Charles Bridge to the flat, eastern side of Prague, the thirst for beer again arises. Here there are many pub choices in the Old Town or New Town, the two primary sections of the city.
U Flecků, noted as the world’s oldest brewpub (1499), serves just one beer, a remarkably tasty dark lager. On the one hand, it’s hard for a beer traveler to pass up visiting U Flecků. On the other hand, these days this pub is almost completely geared to the tourist trade. One would be hard pressed to find a Prague citizen heading there for a beer. And the prices are higher than in most Prague pubs.
Luckily there are other great pubs in Prague. Upinkasů is a delight. U Medvidku specializes in Budvar Budweiser. U Zlatého Tygra and U Kocoura sell Pilsner Urquell. In a small space downstairs from the Czech Beer & Malt Association offices is Pivovarský Dům, the first Prague brewpub to open after the Velvet Revolution of 1989. The pub opened in 1998 and serves a breathtakingly tasty unfiltered pilsner.
In case it’s not already obvious, when one discusses beer in the Czech Republic, the talk is of pilsner. Almost exclusively. There are dark lagers and blond bocks and a smattering of other beers, but pilsner is king and has been so since the mid-1800s. In the Czech Republic pils is beer and beer is pils.