Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Day Six in Prague

I hope you all appreciate how hard this job is, getting up every morning and going out to drink beer.

No new places on the agenda today, mostly just visiting places I’d been to before to see how they were doing.

I headed out and did check out a couple places that didn’t seem quite up to being the the Guide. Luckily, I didn’t have to have a beer in either of them.

I soon found myself in the neighborhood of Novoměstský Pivovar, which claims to be Prague’s first (modern) brewpub. “Modern” because U Flecků has been around a few hundred years longer. The quality of the beers is very variable. Over the past 10 years I’ve had some very good one and some that I left on the table, but mostly they are just average — which is how they were today. Drinkable, enjoyable even, but no need for me to have two.

However they do have good roasted chicken wings. The menu says “spicy” but that is “Czech spicy.” Lots of garlic and pepper and a bit of heat. And when they say “5 pieces” that is 5 whole wings, not way it is done in the US (and places that copy American  style) by getting 4 “wings” per chicken.

The brewery is right in the upper room for all to see.

Next it was over near to Beer Story, not far from Stároměstké Náměstí (Old Town Square). They once were connected with he restaurant/deli next door called “Food Story.” The restaurant has changed hands but the pub and bottle shop remains.

One reason I like to stop in is they usually have the Břevnovský Klášter Světlé Ležák 12º on tap. I really, really like this beer. The brewery is a monastery  on the outskirts of Prague that can be easily reached by tram. (This is not the closer in Strahov brewery)

Since you are in a touristic part of town, you pay tourist prices. When I see these prices at first I am outraged! How dare they charge so much for this beer! Then I realize that the sky high Kč 82 I paid for that delicious beer works out to be about US$3.50. All is relative as Dr Einstein used to say.

I hadn’t yet had a Pilsner Urquell and I knew where I wanted to go. It wasn’t that far as the crow flies, but it would take me thru the heart of Tourist Prague, which I find annoying, so I took the longer way by tram.

Prague has lots of public passages thru buildings — usually they are shopping arcades. Google Maps is aware of these and will often route you thru them. Of course, some of them are closed after business hours but Google doesn’t know this and tries to send you there anyway. Very frustrating.

But sometimes there is a positive side effect — a few years ago it routed thru this shopping building and I ended up an a marvelous garden I never knew was there.

That is a monastery in the background. There are benches all thru it and I’ll just sit and watch people for a few minutes.

Shortly after that I arrived at Jelúkova Plzeňskȧ Pivnice. 

Local friends have told me they have the freshest Pilsner Urquell in town. I can’t dispute them. In the front is a standing bar and the tap. Around to the right is a small room that might hold 20 people. I usually stand up in the bar but today I checked the room and there was an empty table so I sat down and ordered a beer. The only question is the size because they only serve the one beer.

I’ve always had table service in the room but others have told me they had or get their beer at the bar and bring it back. Probably depends on the time of day.

They have a bunch of Pilsner Urquell memorabilia on the walls, all of it in German.

I had a second Urquell just because I was too lazy to get up. Another Kč 47 down the.... drain. It is a nice beer but it is probably in the middle of the pack in regards to beers I like in Prague.

I was just about 5pm so I headed over to Illegal Beer. They open at 5pm and I got there a few minutes before. There were a couple of guys standing outside, I figured they were waiting as well. Then I took a look in the window and people were already drinking. I guess they opened early today and those I thought were waiting, were smoking.

They tend towards “Modern” styles here 

I ordered the Zichovec Juicy 15º Orange Juice  New England IPA. A very nice beer. You are seeing Zichovec more and more around town, even in “non beer” establishments. Much like Uněntice.

They had the usual Czech bar snacks and also a sausage that was from someplace special that I never heard of but I ordered it anyway.

In there somewhere I did order another beer, a JuneBerg Světlé Ležák 12º from the town of Hořice. Another very nice pale lager.

Time to move on and I thought I’d go to Malý/Velký next as it is close to my hotel room. On the way a poster caught my eye...

I guess I need to get our more as I didn’t know there were official “50 Shades of Grey”  branded adult toys. Never miss a marketing tie in, I guess.

I was soon at Malý/Velký

An interesting selection of beers on tap

And relatively new addition, some bag-in-box Lambics from Oud Beerlsel 

Being Old School (at least in Prague) I went for the Dalešice Videňský Ležák 12º (Vienna Lager). Unlike when I was at the brewery tap the other day, here they served in proper .5L mugs.

This appears to becoming a more popular style in Czechia. Go for it, brewers, I like these beers.

Since I was drinking my supper, I decided to not challenge my stomach too much and ordered a bowl of Boršč. I’ll leave it to the reader to do the translation, Hint It involves beets.

I love the tap setup, two side pull taps for lagers and normal taps for the top fermented beers. That is the way you do it.

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Day Five in Prague

Here we go again...

The goal today was to visit some new places in Žižkov.

On the way I hopped off the tram to check out Bullerbyn, a cocktail bar with Herold beers.

It’s not well marked on the outside but there is a stylized “B” above the door.

I ordered the Nefintrovany 12º

I’ve found Herold to be imminently drinkable, though not a favorite. They open at 11am so worrying stopping in for an early beer if you are in the area.

It really is more of a cocktail bar/cafe  rather than a beer pub.

Back on the tram to Žižkov and the first stop was Volvox Globator

What is that, you ask. Why it is a book store with a small pub inside.  Heads up Barnes & Noble — if you really want to compete with Amazon start putting in some beer taps.

The bar itself is up a half flight of stairs. It is not very large, a couple of tables is about it. There were four beers on tap, I went with the Albrecht Alt Bier.

It was a tasty amber beer but I would really call it an Alt Bier, at least no in the Düsseldorf style. But as I’ve found all of the Albrecht beers I’ve had this trip, it was a nice, drinkable beer.

Just about around the corner is Pivoteka ŽižkOff, a bottle shop that has four taps for onsite drinking. When I was in Prague last year it was “Closed for renovations” but it had an air about it that it might be a permanent closure. I gather it was a six month project and the re-opened last fall.

I decided on the Kocour Samurai 14º an IPA that I’ve had in the past but not recently.

It is a nice IPA, sharp bitterness up front and some nice malt behind it and fairly clean in the finish.

Up and downs some hills, the Restaurace Žižkov Na Žižkově — a bit of a play on words. In the Moravian region of Czechia there is a brewery Pivovar Žižkov. This restaurant is sort of their tap room in Prague.

The had five beers on tap.  As is my pattern, I had the Divočák 10%

A very nice beer, clean and refreshing.  The menu looked interesting and the food smelled good. I will definitely try to come for a meal on my next trip.

I decided it was time to visit an old favorite, Bar Na Palme, near the Palmovka Metro and tram station. They moved to this location a couple of years ago, originally being on the other side of the station. The new location is in the basement and is much larger but the old one had a nice patio and wasn’t in such a dodgy looking building.

You go thru the entranceway and the stairs down to the pub are on the right. They do have a few tables in the courtyard but there is no table service so you have to go downstairs to get your beer.

They have seven rotation taps, always something interesting on. They also have two fixed taps for Uněticé 10º and 12º plus a cider tap.

For me, an easy choice, Uněticé 12º

They do the tab the old fashioned way — that little slip of paper on the right is my tab, As I order beer (or food) they will add it to the slip.

For food options there are just the usual Czech bar snacks but they do have a spicy sausage that hit the spot. Two kinds of mustard, horseradish and bread.

On the way to the Gents is a mural that I just laugh every time I see it. It is exactly they way I feel when enjoying a beer and I get an email from a client with a problem.

After a few more marks on my tap, I decided to head for the hotel. I wanted to make one stop along the way, Pivo Karlín, a new brewpub in the nearby Karlín district.

It is in a new business development right up to be base of the Žižkov mountain (which separates Karlín and Žižkov)

They had seven of their own beers on tap.

Went with the Karlín 11º

They serve their beers in .4L measures, which seems to be a trend in the newer brewpubs/tap rooms. I know people who won’t go to such places because they usually don’t make it clear up front so it seems like you are getting scammed. But the beer was fine, not terribly exciting but well made and drinkable.

It is very much an industrial chic vibe and you can see some fermenters from pub.

The rest of the brewery is visible if you walk around the other side of the pub.

Monday, May 20, 2019

Day Four in Prague

Day four in Prague was pretty much the same as day three — I got up, drank beer, went back to the hotel.

Oh, you want more?  OK.

I took tram 20 all the way out to the end of the line, Divorká Šárka. Across from the terminus is Hostinec nad Šarkou, home if Libocký Pivovar. This is in the Liboc district Prague, hence the name.

They had four of their beers on tap plus one from Rychtař.

As is my usual, I started the the Šárka 11º a nice Světlé Ležāk.

I was able to puzzle enough out of the menu that one of today’s soups was mushroom, so I ordered one. It was good. So was the bread.

They had descriptions of the beers hanging over the bar and when I can in I took a picture so I didn’t have to get up and look. Two of the remaining were APA/IPA styles. One placard was crumpled and I couldn’t read this description. On the menu was a dish cooked in “dark beer” so I figured the one I couldn’t read was the dark beer, so I ordered the Šebastián 11º.

Well, it turned out to be a wheat beer. They are not my usual favorite but this one was fine. They are not worried in Kelheim, though.

I was still a bit hungry so I ordered the disk that was “baked in dark beer” — it was sausages in onions and peppers in a spicy sauce. It was good but “Czech spicy” which is an order of magnitude or so down from, say, “Thai spicy”

The pub itself was very comfortable. There was a back dining room that looked a little more formal and a patio, though the patio had no shade.

So we hopped back on the tram and headed back towards the center. After 20 minutes or so we were at the Letenské Náměstí tram stop and a few minutes walk came to Pivovar Lajka. When I visited last year it was “Cafe Lajka” but a couple of months ago they opened a brewery and changed their name.

They have five beers on tap (up one from last year) but only one of the house beers.

I had the house Albrech IV 13º APA. It would have been rude to do otherwise. A very nice beer, I enjoyed it.

While drinking my beer I could see a young boy sitting outside with his mother and he had a half liter mug of what looked like a stout — very dark with a very creamy white head. He was downing it a prodigious rate.  At first I thought maybe he was tasting his mother’s beer, but he kept at it. As the only dark beer on the menu was a 5.7% Milk Stout I was suitable impressed. This kid has a future. Turns out it is a Czech soft drink, Kofola, that pours with a big head, sort of like the A&W Root Beers I remember back in the day.

We walked back towards the tram stop and a little past to a green building, the home of Klášterní Pivnice.

This is quite a place. They are open from 9:30am until 9:30pm.They have two standard taps, a Světlé Ležāk from Chotěboř and one from Klāšter. Then there are two rotating taps, the details of which are on sign on the front door.

In the past, I’ve found the Chotěboř and Klāšter beers to be a bit buttery for me, So I usually have one of the rotating beers.

I went with the Pete Vok polotmavý, and had a small one, because that was Kč 18 which works out to 78 US cents. That’s right, a beer for less than a buck. And a good one at that.

These are some of the cheapest prices I’ve seen in Prague. There is no WiFi, no food, no hipsters in sight. The inside is decorated with football (soccer) memorabilia and the windows have old radios. A totally unique place.

And in the Gents was this sign.

From google translate, it seems to be all about hydration, with the darkest color saying “Drink 2L of water now!”  This has been your public service announcement for the day.

Around the corner used to be a place called Pivní Club 300. The owner thought that adding CO2 to a beer was a bad thing so he dispensed them all with compressed air. That would oxidize the beer fairly quickly but he claimed it wasn’t a problem. I had one good beer and one oxidized and never went back.

I saw recently that it is now called Hangár and from pictures on the web it looks like there was a total renovation. I was hoping for a new owner.

The old place was closed on weekend and somehow I thought that continued but they were open.  It turns out Hangár is the name of their “flying” (i.e. contract) brewery. They had 3 of their beers on tap (normally it is 4) and one from Zloun were their beers are brewed.

I went with the Knipl IPL 12º. It basically is a hoppier Světlé Ležāk and I enjoyed it.

The new owners are originally from Munich and I wish them luck. A worthy stop on a Letná pub crawl

I hopped on a tram to quickly check out a place people had told me about. I thought it was going to be a short ride but it turns out there is some construction going on and the tram makes a big loop around it. Like a 6 stop loop. But soon I was at Knihopec, which is one of the more unusual beer venues in Prague.

It is a small bookstore that sells beer. There doesn’t seem to be any seating inside but they have a nice patio next to a park. They have two beers from Pivovar Chříč. I had what I assume the Pazdrát 11º  Světlé Ležāk

It was fine but not one I would go out of my way to drink. But it could just have been the end of a long day. I asked what the other beer was (there was no posted tap list) and the waiter said (in English) that it was an ale.  Sometimes in Czechia that just means a stronger bottom fermented beer and from looking at the brewery website this seems to be the case. There other beer is a 13º amber lager.

There has been tram construction all over Prague and one of my favorite pubs has been hard to reach due to closures. But those lines were restored over the weekend so I headed to Hostomická Nalévárna for some wonderful Hostomice beer.

I started with the 10º which was as nice as I remembered. A full bodied, full flavored 4% abv beer. The price had gone up a bit since my last visit. It was now Kč 31 for a half liter — that is US$1.34 — outrageous!

As good as I had remembered.

I had noticed sign on the way in...

A Vienna Lager? Collaboration between Hostomice and Uněticé? That is like finding out your two favorite banjo players — Abigail Washburn and Bella Fleck — got married. Sign me up.

Last fall they had a special Vienna Lager that was brewed with 100% Vienna malt and lagered for like 6 months. That was an amazing beer. This beer was very good but not up that legendary beer.  It was getting late, so I put off having the 12º for another day and headed back to the hotel.

So much for my “I’ll take it easy today.”