Dionysian Prague was written back in 2016 and I hope does an adequate job of explaining the beer culture of Prague. It is the post you want to read if you are looking for the best breweries in Prague. However, during a recent visit to Prague, I went in search of other breweries and beer pilgrimages which I didn’t feature in my original post.
Dionysian Prague deserves a sequel. To this day, I still debate whether Prague or Munich is the best beer city. One of the things I love about Prague is the mysteriousness of it. For centuries it has been considered an “out of the way” city. It languished in bondage under the Habsburg / Austro-Hungarian Empire where it built a reputation as a brooding city, one which put on a smiling façade but underneath had a simmering desire for freedom.
Prague obtained its freedom briefly towards the end of World War I with the establishment of Czechoslovakia, but even before that, it was known for its beer. In the book Around the Clock in Europe by Charles Fish Howell published in 1912, the author exclaims about Prague that “…they can do many worthy things well… Who has not heard of Pilsener beer?”
Pilsener beer? Sounds familiar.
Today Prague is no longer an out-of-the-way city. It is a beautiful city and one that always leaves me reluctant to leave. When you drink beer in Prague, one thing is guaranteed. You never drink alone. Sure there are plenty of tourists, but I am talking about the Army of the Dead.
One of the first things my daughter noticed on her first visit to Prague this year was that everywhere we went, there were ominous statues looming and lurking on every building façade and famously across the Charles Bridge. It became a game to spot them at a certain point and indeed I wonder if they were what Longfellow was talking about when he wrote:
Beside the Moldau’s rushing stream,
With the wan moon overhead,
There stood, as in an awful dream,
The army of the Dead.
My daughter might agree with Longfellow’s sentiment, but when going on beer pilgrimages, the more the merrier, and the Army is literally everywhere…
One of the Army of the Dead includes St. Norbert, the patron saint of the Strahov Monastery and whose name appears on the Strahov beers from my favorite brewery in Prague, Klášterní pivovar Strahov.
My daughter and I stayed at an Airbnb in the Malá Strana neighborhood near the Legions Bridge (or Most Legii). This was a great location to live among the locals but be close enough to get everywhere by foot. Across the street is Petrin park which offers a great hike up to either the St. Lawrence Cathedral and Petrin Tower or the Strahov Monastery. In terms of its impact on beer pilgrimages, you can easily shoot across the bridge to two of the most historic pivovars in Prague, U Flekú and U Medvidkú as well as offering a scenic hike up to Pivovar Strahov and Restaurant Peklo.
Dionysian Prague Part 2
Let’s talk about beer places. Hereforth are my latest beer pilgrimages in Prague. All of these are worthwhile to visit if you are a beer lover, and I don’t bother to rate them. At the end is a Google map I have created which includes all of the beer places I have discussed in both blog posts.
Literally meaning New Town Brewery, Novomêstsky Pivovar, was opened in 1993 but feels more traditional than that. The flight, while giving a nice way to Untap four new beers, is a hint that the brewery has a foot in the modern world. While you are drinking, contemplate that New Town or Nové Mêsto is new as of 1348. At that time Prague consisted of five independent towns with Novo Mesto being the youngest.
The new kid on the block in the Nové Mêsto also claims to have the largest beer garden in the city. Pivovar Narodni has been around since way back in 2015. I tried the Ležak.
Pivovar U Supa
U Supa claims to be the oldest brewery with a restaurant in all of Prague with its cryptic origin “dating back to the 15th century.” It is located very close to the Old Town Square. This time I went for the Tmave (dark).
Vojanúv Dvúr is a microbrewery started in 2018 located on the Malá Strana side of the Mánes Bridge. I tried the Malostransky ležak.
Restaurants with Good Brews
This restaurant was next to my Airbnb. They advertised a “homemade beer” called Zlaty kríž, which is only available at this hotel and restaurant. A very tasty tmavé.
Restaurace U Zajice
This cozy cellar bar/restaurant serves up brews from the Kynšpersky Pivovar such as the tmavy ležak.
I hesitate to add this restaurant to my list of “recommended” beer pilgrimages. It suffers from a 2.2 star average review on Google Maps out of 705 reviews (as of this post), mainly due to bad service. This restaurant will tempt even the most hardened tourist because it has the best views in all of Prague. I have never eaten a meal here and my recommendation is if you spot a table along the edge with uninterrupted views, by all means grab a beer even if you are not eating. My visit was in the middle of the afternoon between lunch and dinner and the staff, although displaying some level of initial disappointment I wasn’t ordering food, left me alone to enjoy my beer and the view.
Velká Klášterní Restaurace
This restaurant is sitting just next to the Klášterní Pivovar Strahov and I have confused it in the past with being part of that brewery. However, this is a very nice beer hall-style restaurant which serves brews from the Matuška Pivovar.
Beer Bottle Shop
The Beer Stop pod Petrínem
This wonderful bottle shop was right around the corner from my Airbnb. It has a great selection of Czech commerical and craft beers.
Potential Beer Pilgrimages
These are places I have passed by without visiting which seem to have potential for future beer pilgrimages.
Drawing attention to the establishment with the words Beer Festival on the sign certainly can’t hurt. The Vortex Pub website shows a long beautiful row of taps and a beer hall-like experience.
U Dvou Koček
Passed by this pivovar restaurant on the way from Wenceslas Square to Old Town Square. The window reads Home Brewery since 1678. According to Untappd, there are three beers brewed here.
Fat Cat is a modern craft beer and burger bar.
U krále Brabantského
This medieval tavern has always intrigued me, and the fact that the name refers to the King of Brabant, a region in Belgium, is a bonus. It has a medieval show every Tuesday to Saturday evening which means it is probably a bit touristy but it still would be a cool place to have a beer some time. It is on the way up to the Prague Castle.
Dionysian Prague Map
This map contains all of the beer destinations I have featured in both of my Dionysian Prague posts.
- Black Mug: Breweries and places with homemade beer
- Red Mug: Great places to drink beer
- Yellow Mug: Great beer bottle shops
- Grey Mug: Beer places I haven’t yet visited
- Green Mug: Only for the view (Bellavista)
Prague is a fantastic place to visit, not just because of the beer culture but also because it has a fascinating history (and it is still relatively cheap compared to Western Europe). Prague Castle, The Museum of Communism, St. Wenceslas Square, and the Archeological Clock Tower are just a few of the sites that amaze and are worthwhile to visit. The Prague Jewish Cemetery also should be on anyone’s list, and in May, I had a brewtiful experience there of a different kind. A very sobering one.
Not so long ago, I featured a certain Vermeer painting in one of my blog posts. Drunken Masterpieces: Gemäldegalerie Berlin. The painting was Glass of Wine and features a man holding a pitcher while he is watching a woman primly and properly sipping a glass of wine.
The museum of the Prague Cemetery had a display with artwork done by Jews who had died as a result of the atrocities committed during World War II. One of those was from 11-year old Gustav Zweig who later died when he was 14. He had made his own version of the Vermeer painting out of colored bits of paper. As I stood and beheld the humble but powerful legacy of this boy, I realized this was the moment of the trip where I was reminded to stop and appreciate the privilege I have to experience these places, and that the search for the next beer pilgrimage should always include an open mind and heart to learn about the world and myself. All around Prague are the Army of the Dead but also the reminders of those who have died due to the tragedies of the past. Drinking beer in a city like Prague is always much more enjoyable when you have connected with its culture and its past.