Our first stop was to be a cafe, Duende, that is supposed to have the best draft Bernard in town. But when we got there, it not only was closed but looked like it had been closed for years. We learned later that it always looks like that so we'll have to give it try another day.
Not to far is U Medvidku (I have to apologize here to the language purists -- I haven't learned how to do the Czech diacritical marks yet -- the "i" should have an accent and the "u" a small circle over it) which is both a house pub for Budejovicky Budvar (a/k/a Czechvar) and a brewpub. They have both the pale and dark lagers on tap (svetly lezak and tmavy lezak, respectively), both 12° beers (i.e. starting gravity of 1048)
Now this was more like it, what I expected a Czech lager to taste like. The pale had some nice bitterness up front and a nice clean, dry finish. The dark had just a hit of chocolate and was also clean in the finish. We ended up having a second pale to go with a nice bowl of potato soup.
The main room is long and somewhat narrow and wouldn't be out of place in Germany..
Behind this room is another, equally as long. Behind that is yet another, this with arched ceilings, as if it was a beer cellar. Behind that is a set of stairs that lead up to the brewery. If you didn't know it was there, I doubt you would find it. There were discrete signs on the walls and one obvious one on the floor...
As you went up the stairs you passed a little shop selling glasses, t-shirts and other items labeled with either Budvar or U Medvidku. At the top was another long room with the brewery on one side...
At first we thought we were lucky and they were brewing, but it was just post brewing cleanup, being done by the young assistant. The system brews about 250 liters per batch, which is quite small for a commercial brewery. They have two regular beers, Oldgott, and amber lager that is just over 5% alcohol and X-Beer 33, a 12.6% monster that has a starting gravity of 33° (1132!).
The Oldgott was very interesting, it had an almost spicy finish, which sounds out of place in a Czech lager, but it was still clean and refreshing we ended up drinking a lot of these! The X-Beer 33 was, not surprisingly, very sweet but very drinkable. The alcohol was present but I would not have guessed 12.6%
We will be making a return trip to U Medvidku, not just because of the beers we had, but they have another bar (which doesn't open until later) that has 5 varieties of Budvar, including the famous 10° pale lager and a "yeast beer" or krausened lager.
This evening we'll visit Pivovarsky Club, a brewery, beer cafe and bottle shop that has 6 regional beers on draft.