Tour guides will tell you the citizens of the Czech Republic drink the most beer per capita and it’s easy to understand why. After all this is the country where a German Brewmaster created the beer that made Plsn famous and inspired the most popular “style” on the planet. After making a name for itself producing what are essentially smash beers (“pilsner” malt and hops from Zatec) visitors might be surprised to learn that the country and Prague in particular are now home a diverse range of beer encompassing everything from some of the best lagers in the world to American style IPAs and barrel aged imperial stouts.
We first visited Prague in the late 1990s, a time when beer variety took the form of varying strength pale lagers. Budvar and Pilsner Urquell along with a few others offered mostly light colored pilsners differentiated by degrees plato indicating starting gravity. While many breweries still denote differences in their lagers the same way, others (mainly non-traditional craft brewers) are now simply listing beer styles such as IPA, stout, wheat, etc instead. Stay vigilant for Uneticke if you like pilsners and names like Raven, Matuska and Falcon among many others if you are into craft. We also tried some really interesting Russian craft beer you probably wont see outside of Eastern Europe including beers by AF from St Petersburg. A half liter of great pilsner made by small regional breweries was about US $1.50 to $2 while most high quality craft offerings ranged from US $2 to $4 for 0.3L servings. Also keep in mind many bars take reservations so it sometimes appears there are few places to sit, but ask and the servers will often try to accommodate you. Today Prague is home to a very large number of excellent breweries and beer bars producing all kinds of beer and the list below includes some of my favorites.
Hradcany and Mala Strana:
Strahov (B) – One of two Monasteries (along with Brevnov) within easy reach of Old Town that produce their own beer on site. In addition to very high quality light and dark lagers, at the time we were there they also had a very nice Spring lager as well as a solid IPA on tap. Take the tram to Brevnov (see below) then back track to Strahov before wandering down towards the castle and the hoards of tourists as you near the river.
Brevnov (B) – The other Monastery brewery mentioned above normally attracts fewer tourists but also serves very solid largers as well as ales. Wander around the beautiful grounds before moving on.
Letna Beer Garden (P)– Best view of Prague bar none, shared with countless others during the weekend but who cares, beers at the kiosk near the main beer garden are limited to Gambrinus, Kozel, Master and Pilsner Urquell, but you can find Staropramen dark, light as well as the unfiltered version at a bar about 5 minutes East across the park
U Hrocha (B) – If you find yourself near the castle and want an authentic pub this certainly fits the bill, although seating is very limited and they only serve Pilnes Urquell.
U Tri Ruzi (B) – Multi level brewpub that somehow isn’t usually inundated with tourists serving traditional food and several well made lagers and occasional seasonal such as a Belgian strong dark while we were there.
U Kunstatu (P) – Somewhat pricey beer bar with flights of both draft and also craft bottles. Visit the ancient basement.
U Zlateho Tigre (P) – Nostalgic Pilsner Urquell bar located right in the middle of things and near the two places listed above. Sit down and they will bring fresh PU until you scream for them to stop.
Lod Pivovar (B) –A brewpub on a boat moored at the North end of Old Town serving four or five varied lagers and a full menu.
Pivovar Hostomicke (B/P) – Small outlet for Hostomicke beers made by the brewery located outside of the city. They serve three beers, two pale lagers and a dark lager. Escape the tourists crowds and enjoy some of the (subjectively) best lagers in the country.
U Supa (B) – Very touristy and surprisingly modern given its history. The beer was good but not outstanding.
T-Anker (P) – Head to the top of a soviet era department store for some of the best views of Prague to be had while sipping local craft beer.
Prague Beer Museum (P) – Not the one in the tourist center that’s a rip off, this one is near the river. Decent number of taps but only a few are rotating. Attracts a fair number of tourists.
U Medvidku (B) – Expansive brewpub with a labyrinth like layout serving Budvar beers as well as their own. Their own beer can be inconsistent – on one visit both the dark lager had pronounced acetaldehyde issues while on another visit several weeks later both the light and dark lagers were spot on with no perceived flaws.
U Fleku (B) – Probably the most renowned tourist attracting brewpub in the city serving one beer, a dark lager. Beer and food can be pricey here and watch out for the waiters who will push you to buy Becherovka and Mead shots that cost more than the half liters of beer. Also noted one tried to charge us for an extra beer on one visit.
Pivovar DUM (B)- One of the oldest craft brewpubs in the city that will remind America visitors of TGI Fridays, although the beers are good and often inventive. Try the green nettle beer.
Illegal Beer (P) – Small craft beer bar with a large number of taps as well as a modest bottle selection. Closed Sundays.
Craft House (P) – Very small hole in the wall with a solid but modest tap list of mainly local craft beer.
Mrtva Ryba (P) – Student bar with several mainstays on draft and often 3 rotating taps along with a good selection of distilled spirits at affordable prices.
U Sumavy (P) – Great locals place with a good selection of Czech beers including many you wont see elsewhere along with traditional food in an authentic setting.
Nubeerbar (P) – Good selection of 20 taps in what may seem like a Russian money laundering operation but they also have hamburgers and a decent bottle selection
Kulovy Blesk (P) – Make a reservation if you want to eat. Good selection with lots of local breweries represented in an interesting space with a closed in patio.
20 PIP (P) – Really well done beer bar with 21 taps plus bottles on two floors. Seems to attract a lot of Russians.
Maly/Velky (P) – Chill hole in the wall basement bar with about 8 rotating taps and a curated bottle selection with a few interesting finds.
Vinohrady and points East:
Tramway (P) – Awesome place that is well off the tourist track at end of tram 11…seriously step off and you’re at the front door
Zly Casy (P) – One of the first and still one of the best beer bars in town with several bars all serving different beers. They often have Uneticke 12, which many consider one of the best pilsners being produced today. Off tram 11 line which makes it convenient for a pub crawl that includes tramway.
U Cerife (P) – Traditional pub near Beergeek that is one of the last serving Kout na Sumave (sometimes).
Beergeek (P/B) – Fantastic beer bar with knowledgeable servers that can get quite busy on the weekends for good reason. Look for the Siberian line of craft beer made by the owners.
Beergeek Bottle Shop (P) – Near the bar listed above carrying one of the best selection of bottles in town along with a few draft selections.
Bad Flash (P/B)– About 12 taps of good beers including lots of craft including some they make, very nice bottle selections behind the bar. Vibrant area
If you go to Plsn visit U Parkanu – the only pub serving unfiltered PU outside of the brewery that I’m aware of