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New pubs brighten beer drinking in Prague

Added: Tuesday, January 22nd 2013

New pubs are bringing a fresh dimension and appeal to drinking in the Czech capital, Prague. The city is famous for its large, sprawling beer halls but three new outlets offer a radically different approach to the enjoyment of Czech beer.

Pivovarsky Dum – the Beer House – and Pivovarsky Klub form a joint enterprise offering a wide range of beer with food that breaks the Prague mould of pork and dumplings. The Beer House has been open for some time, since 1998, while the Klub, described as a restaurant beer boutique, has been running since 2005. The Beer House is a brewpub and its beers are sold in both establishments.

Ales Dockal, owner of the Klub, told me that when the Beer House opened there were fewer than 20 breweries in the Czech Republic but now the number has rocketed to 160. He has sold 547 beers at the Klub since it opened. He has six taps and rotates beers on almost a daily basis. One tap is reserved for a beer from the Beer House: it was a strong lager called Benedict on my visit. Other taps offered a Belgian ale, a wheat beer and lagers from Czech micros, plus a lager from the large regional brewer, Konrad.

I sampled a 7% warm-fermented Porter from the Holba brewery with lots of coffee and chocolate character. Ales then produced a bottled Imperial Russian Stout (8%) brewed at the Beer House: it had a massive charred fruit, smoked grain and woody hops aroma with chocolate and coffee notes, followed by a big palate of chewy liquorice, burnt fruit, smoked grain and bitter hops. The long finish was bittersweet but became dry and chocolaty.

Ales produced a further bottled beer called Polotmavy Special from a tiny family brewery 100 kilometres from Prague. The dark amber beer is made with the addition of honey and has a herbal aroma with toasted grain and spicy hops. There are honey notes in the mouth with bitter hops developing along with toasted grain and herbs. The bittersweet finish has a continuing herbal note, with toasted grain and spicy hops.

The Klub is on two floors: the lower floor has a vaulted roof and is in the cellar of a former distillery built in 1873. The menu recommends beer to match with food and the Klub is so popular that booking a table is essential.

The Prague Beer Museum, despite its imposing title, is a pub, a long room with plenty of seating and just a short walk from Old Town Square in the heart of Prague. Beer prices are keen, starting at one euro according to a leaflet, even though the euro is not yet the official currency of the country. Service is fast and furious and there are 30 beers on tap and in bottle. The range is wide, with beers from Czech micros and ales and lagers drawn from other countries. A beer menu lists all the beers with helpful descriptions. Snacks are available and there’s a beer garden for warmer weather.

Pivovarsky Dum, Jecna/Lipova 15. Tel 296 216 666. www.gastroinfo.cz/pivodum.

Pivovarsky Klub, Krizikova 17. Tel 222 315 777. www.gastroinfo.cz/pivoklub.

Prague Beer Museum, Dlouha 46. Tel 732 330 912. www.PragueBeerMuzeum.com

prague Klub