The Czech Republic is one of the most exciting destinations for beer enthusiasts in the world. From the famous beer spas located in Pilsen, to the historic breweries such as Pilsner Urquell, Břevnov Monastery and U Fleků, there are many places to explore. In addition to the classic there is now a huge craft beer universe to be explored. The country that has long held the top spot in beer consumed per capita and the world now watches the craft winds blowing strongly there. Surprisingly, in a place where people are used to drinking quantities, the “drink less, drink better” philosophy gained its territory.
The land of the Pilsen for craft brands
You can easily find great volumes of craft Pilsners and Dark Lagers in bottle shops and bars. Both are definitely the drinker’s top picks around here. After all, Lager is the local’s favourite, and the Czech Pilsner style is a national icon.
Nonetheless, IPAs (and all their variations) are becoming increasingly popular, and the local craft movement, as in most of its neighbouring countries, have been following the major global trends producing for example many New England IPAs, Brut IPAs, Imperial Stouts and Barrel Aged beers.
From a quality perspective the country is very well served. So, what to expect from the craft scene? Would it be possible to have a more refreshing beer than a mug of fresh Pilsner Urquell on tap? Of course! Try one of Pivovar Matuška’s Czech Pilsner, incredibly tasty. Nevertheless, what is making this brewery famous is the IPA “Tropical Rocket”, which according to Untappd is the best rated beer of the country at the moment. Their presence in the capital Prague is solid, and it’s easy to find one of their 750ml bottles, even in the city centre. They have been participating in craft beer trade fairs in lots of European countries. Originally from Broumy, near Prague, it is perhaps the most famous local craft beer brand at the moment.
Following the same steps of European high end breweries, Pivovar Clock has been producing consistent NEIPAs. Their portfolio is quite rich and varied (they have dozens of seasonal labels), but their focus is really on American styles. They dedicated a special line to New England IPAs, called Clockwork. The same beer base is used for multiple recipes with only changing the hops. The brewery owns a modern Brewpub / Bar in the town of Potštejn, near the Polish border.
At last, from the creativity perspective we can highlight Crazy Clown Brewery. They have an American Pale Ale made with gummy bear (those famous Haribo jelly bears) and an English Pale Ale with Earl Grey tea, one of the most consumed in England. Their beer names are also quite intriguing, ranging from “Cthullu” to “Whore of Babylon”, ending with the energetic “La Cocaína”, a Session IPA with Guarana, Mate, and Gingko Biloba. With this beer in hand, who needs a Red Bull?
The best bar (and bottle shop)
If you consider yourself a beer geek, you have to visit then the Beer Geek Bar, Prague’s best place to drink craft beer. They own a bottle shop as well, with the same name, which is very close to the bar.
A close look at the taplist: during our visit we found several classic beers like belgian Chimay and Oud Beersel, some rarities like Struise Black Damnation II Mocha Bomb, and of course, a lot of new and local craft breweries like Sibeeria, Cobolis, Matuška, Clock, etc. Not to mention the somewhat unconventional European, like Slovak Unorthodox, and Polish Gzub and Browar. All this distributed over 32 taps!
Highlights to the cold chamber: with a glass wall, you can see everything inside, and we noticed that in addition to the barrels, it also houses their entire bottle collection. Definitely an example to be followed.
Food here is not appealing. As their focus is on beers, we have available just a few snacks, and they are quite simple. They serve only potatoes and chicken wings, and you can clearly see that they are those classic frozen ones… but nothing that could turn the experience of visiting this place into a bad thing.
There is an enormous amount of craft beer bars hidden in the streets of Prague, such as USupa, Illegal Beers and more. Tasting lots of Czech Pilsners is a must, as their differentiator is the extreme freshness presented on tap, if compared to bottles.
Drinking in the Czech Republic is very cheap compared to other traditional beer destinations in Europe, such as Germany and England. One Pint costs, on an average, € 2 to € 3 (half, or even a third of what it can cost in those other countries). Craft beers range from € 2 to € 5, depending on location, style and quantity. If you are willing to shop at supermarkets and liquor stores, you’ll save even more money.
The new craft breweries are transforming, little by little, the way of drinking in the country. The Czech craft scene is quite thriving. Undoubtedly, the craft market has shown that it has a lot of creativity and quality in its products. Going craft in Czech Republic is a must. What are you waiting for? Maybe in the near future it will be possible to find some of these new Czech brands around the globe…