Beer, History, The Czech Republic, Prague And Bohemia
There are dozens of funny T-shirts and bumper stickers claiming that you should drink beer rather than water but it seems in Prague they take the notion seriously. In addition to a centuries old tradition there is a very practical reason to do so in the Czech Republic – beer is almost as cheap as water and in some situations it’s cheaper. Often when examining a menu we discovered that beer is half the price of a Coke.
Czechs are serious beer drinkers with a regional tradition that goes back five centuries. The most famous beer name in the world is Budweiser and in the Czech Republic it’s from the Budvar brewery in České Budějovice or the Budweis area of Bohemia. The brewery was founded by Czechs in 1895 based on the tradition of brewing beer in České Budějovice and that dates back to the 13th century, when monks brewed beer in local monasteries.
The worlds two Budweiser beers actually have a singular origin. The name Budweiser is German, meaning “of Budweis”. In 1876, German-born Adolphus Busch and his friend Carl Conrad developed a “Bohemian-style” lager in the United States that was based on a beer discovered on a trip to Bohemia. They started producing their Budweiser style beer in their brewery in St. Louis, Missouri. Ever since the two Budweiser brands have been fighting in courts all around the world.
The most popular beer in Prague though is Pilsner Urquell. Although it is usually the least expensive it is also a highly rated beer. Urquell beer is sometimes thought to be Polish, but it’s exclusively brewed in Plzeň, a Czech brewery. For a while, it was brewed in Poland and Russia under license but the Czechs now own exclusive brewing rights. It’s also known as the world’s first pilsner beer, invented by Josef Groll in 1842.
Prague’s famous beer pubs
The oldest beer pub in Prague is U Fleků that actually opened in its current location in 1499 and has welcomed countless generations of Czechs along with foreigners for over 500 years. This brewery and its enormous beer hall has space for up to 700 customers in eight large rooms filled with long tables. Its craft beer, which has a high alcohol content (13%), and it’s the only variety they serve. This historic establishment also offers some of the best traditional Czech food in Prague.
Another good choice is U Supa, the House of the Vulture, which like U Fleků, has been in business since the fifteenth century. Dark beers are not that common in Prague but unlike U Fleků, U Sup does offer a semi-dark lager that is very popular with locals. A centerpiece in the U Sup brewery is an unusual glass brewing tank, one of the few in the world. From Spring through Fall patrons enjoy the outdoor patios and garden with a range of beers and light fare.
Additional Pubs & Beer Halls
U Glaubicu – Located in the medieval quarter of Prague near the Charles Bridge inside a 700-year-old cellar. A historic beer hall offering reasonably priced pints, a great atmosphere, and a remarkable goulash.
U Medvidků – Also established more than 500 years ago, U Medvidku it offers a popular bittersweet dark lager with an 11.8% alcohol strength. Service is on long communal tables, offering classic Czech fare.
U Tří Růží – Located near the Old Town Square, it is a restored traditional Czech brewery, dating back to 1405. Popular with locals it provides a wide selection of beers that includes a famous Monastic beer.