Welcome to Benesov to Zeliv - A blog about Prague and the Czech Republic's beer culture.

From the tasty brews at the Ferdinand brewery in Benesov to the only genuine monk made beers in Zeliv, most of the country's best beers can be found in the capital. Combined with a whole new brew pub scene, rotating tap bars and top notch food, i reckon it's the best place in Europe to drink beer.

I'm not a big on tasting notes, history and the like, there are plenty of blogs around dealing with that and to be honest i'm not quite knowledgable enough about that yet.
I love Czech pubs, food, the easygoing nature of the places and people and fortunately the beer scene is improving day by day, so it's a pretty exciting time to write about beer.

This blog is really a companion for an exhaustive website im compiling about Prague beer and a hoped for pub crawl of the city, coming soon.

Na Zdravi

Monday, 27 September 2010

Good king Wenceslas

Silly season is upon us again, where lots of breweries nationwide have a 'special' beer produced with a nice blurb describing it's specialness. Well this basically means a slightly stronger version of their main beer, exactly like they do at easter and xmas( the same beers? ). It's a similar practise to in the UK where within one week i had tasted both a Pheonix tennis and cricket beer special, both were identical to the normal light beer they produce.
In the Czech Republic this Tuesday is the public holiday of the good catholic king Wenceslas, of the jolly song fame, who was killed by his brother on this day. For reasons unknown, this is celebrated by some strong beers, well i guess Czechs don't need many excuses to drink.
Of these, perhaps the most anticipated is Breznak's special 21 degree dopplebock, that's about 10% alcohol folks. Cerna Hora are also producing a souped up version of their excellent 'Velen' wheat beer and many smaller breweries are doing something extra.
Well, is it worth it? Well coming back from the magnificent Chyne brewery at Zlicin metro, we came across a typical metro herna bar(gambling joint)and warily ventured in as it actually had the special on, first in Prague? The bar was not as scary as at first sight, so we got a small 21 special in, not expecting much. Indeed it was an overly strong lager, with none of the complex flavours you would expect from a dopplebock, but by the end of the glass it had kept us interested enough and for 21kc, not too bad at all. The trip to the toilet was the highlight, i was given a key on a massive metal ring, similar to what dungeon masters have and had to piss out the back of the pub where the metro drivers have their restrooms and showers etc, bizarre!!
I've also had Chyne's own 15 degree special, which also disappointed and am on the lookout for the Cerna Hora which promises to be very nice, despite it's similarity to the normal one.

Sunday, 20 June 2010

Just plain odd

Imagine a pub with upto 21 small micro beers on tap. Where I have feasted on the likes of Zeliv Castalus, Forman Velichov, Shlenkerler Rauchbier for 33kc and many others. Where the decor oozes pivo and obscure brewery paraphanalia. Is a stone throw from uber beer joints like Merenda, U Sadu and the likes. So why the fuck do I hate going there and have decided to boycott the place?

Well, no longer had i tried to write a fully up to date description of the new uber rotating pub in the Prague suburb of Zizkov on my Prague pub guide, then it went and changed it's bloody name again.
Remembered by long termers as U radnice, recently Beer club 300 and now, well today at least, known as Svet Piva ( world of beer ) via about 5 name changes in 3 years. What the hells going on?

It doesn't end there, it's also had about 5 house beers in that time, ranging from the now defunct Podkovan, via Kout and some others I forgot to the currently favoured Konrad. Small beers have gone from normal price, to expensive, to not exisiting and now back to just plain expensive. There was even a time i saw a small beer for 1kc ( about 2euro cent ) less than a large one!!!

Then there's the staff, well bloody awful would be kind, even by Prague standards. Uninterested, unknowledgable and sometimes slightly threatening, that's the hangover from this being a former Sparta Prague ( the Nazi type team ) fans' pub.
The owner is still the same as back then, he seems to be playing at the beer thing and competing with the much better Zly Casy.

The atmosphere while slightly improved from the old days and i've had some ok sessions, it's still unbearably quiet with the occasional crap programme on tacky Nova TV ( no surprise there ).

A scoopers pub that doesn't give a toss about scoopers, I know others who refuse to go there, i'm afraid a whole new set of improvements will need to be made for this pub to be what it's arrogant owner seem to think it is.

1) Completely new, young staff with an ounce of beer knowledge.
2) Either decent TV or some bloody music to avoid that awful eerie quietness.
3) Small beer prices that encourage the whole point of the pub, that's trying as many great beers as possible.
4) Cheaper prices, the beers have gone up recently, no need.
5) Stop changing the fuckin name!

Note: As I write it's changed to none smoking and has a new sister pub underneath, jesus.
Extra note: Now seems to be doing pour your own beer taps on the tables, a la 'the pub'.

Svet Piva etc is located at Havlickove Namesti 7, Prague 3.

Monday, 8 March 2010

Kladno via salford

Having toyed with the idea for a while, i finally got of my bottom and made the short journey to Kladno and the new brewery of U Kozliku.

A 40 minute journey from Dejvice and i arrived at the small town, best known for it's heavy industry.
Fortunately i was pleasantly surprised at the old town, with it's large square, very attractive town hall and church, a scattering of old churches and even a play area next to the small castle for some bears, which must have been hiding from the intense cold.
Midday and time for some ale and a decent meal, resisting the kebab stands, which were everywhere and looked pretty tasty.
I had been tipped off the brewery was actually in a kind of Herna ( gambling bar ), but didn't quite expect what i found.
As i entered the sport herna, i was engulfed by the stench of smoke, but somehow the smell of fresh beer was even stronger and confirmed i was in the right place.
All of the local characters were out in force, from the workers on lunch, to unemployed blokes on their 5th Gambrinus and even one female in the mix somewhere. I felt like i was back in Salford, England!
Fortunately in Czech, the worse that will happen is a curious stare as a foreigner works his way through the homemade ales, while they drink the awful Gambrinus( despite being 1kc more expensive ).
As for the beers, well a real mix. First i started with the standard desitka light beer which looked pretty nice, but after a while was a little boring. Then a dark which i suspected of being a Kozel, which was also on sale, not brilliant. The food was amazingly cheap at 50kc for the main, although 4 dumplings and 3 tiny slivers of pork in a watery sauce was probably the reason why.
However, things picked up as the mini skirted waitress brought over the stronger 14 degree beer, soon followed by the honey special and finally the 12 degree light. These were pretty damn good, reminding me of the beers from Kacov quite a lot, i could easily of downed a few more at prices ranging from 20kc-25kc, as plenty of locals were still doing at 2pm.
However, i fancied a stroll and soon came across a pub selling Bakalar, a decent brewery from nearby Rakovnik. Bar Madly appered to be brand new and was very nice, good service, Guinness on tap and a decent Bakalar 12 light finished the day off very nicely. A quick detour saw me notch up a classic commie statue outside a stately building and plenty of buses back to Prague.

Definately a classic trip, nice old town, dodgy pub with decent brews at very decent prices and back home by 3.30pm.

Monday, 14 December 2009

New kid on the blog.

While i was away in England, regular checks of the net made me aware of 1 place in particular that would be first on my hitlist of places to visit back in Prague.
Kulovy Blesk ( ball of lightning )promised upto 9 beers on tap and my visits thus far have not disappointed.
On my first visit at lunch ( usually the best time to go to any good beer pub ) there were indeed 9 beers on the go including ones you wouldn't find anywhere else bar Zly Casy and Merenda. Nymburk beers are permanent with even the unfiltered version sometimes on the go. I opted for Kocour's English Pale Ale and it was as superb as i remembered, surpassing any pale ale i actually had in the UK, hoppy , but without the horrible aftertaste English beers tend to have, mixed with flowery notes and a smooth, fruity taste that typifies Kocour's excellent beers.
Lunch was a pork roll, stuffed with bacon and mushrooms, superb and they even let me change the ubiqitous fries, for huge, chunky wedges, classy. I then had an ever reliable beer from Opat and was pleased with the bill. The kocour was only 35kc, comparing to other places where i would expect to pay 45kc. Small beers are also priced in accordance, unlike the other 2 places mentioned previously.
As for the place itself, well it feels a bit cramped, due to the underground feel and the various side rooms and probably not the best place to go alone. The decor is great, all the classic Czech films have posters spread across the walls and it's this kind of effort in making the place different i love about Czech pubs.
Subsequent visits haven't disappointed on the beer front, ranging from the suberb Opat 17 special, Matuska's full range and Kocour beers almost everytime i go, to a good range of standards from Nymburk to Kacov and Primator. Kocour is now 40kc in line with other places. Service is usually fine if they can see you in the nooks and crannies and the food is always decent.
The only flipsides are the necessity to always pre book the tables unless you come in the afternoon. Why a good beer pub can't have a few tables for regulars i don't know, but that's Czech for you. The prices are also not listed, so you have to keep asking and look like a tight arse.
Despite this, i will definately be a regular, i reckon it's the best of the 3 uber rotating tap bars in Prague and that's a real recommendation.
Kulovy Blesk is at Sokolska 13, Prague 2.

Thursday, 29 October 2009

A dream afternoon

Imagine if we could combine our love of quality beer, with a saturday afternoon game of footy and some top notch pub food. Well imagine no longer my friends. While i was beavering away in the UK trying to make money, my mole( step forward Scottish Iain ) in CZ was busy making the discovery of the year.
Armed with insider info, i went with the missus and a mate to Predni Kopanina FC, lurking in the 4th tier of the Czech football league, having been in the 5th the season before. Getting there was pretty easy with a bus from outside Dejvicka metro getting us there half an hour before kick off.
15 mins later we arrive at Kopanina on the edge of Prague and a nice, classic village it is. Surprisingly there is a 14th century church, which was in excellent nick and even a historic lime tree!
Second pleasure was 35kc entry with a free programme and a tombola ticket! The missus was even luckier, her ticket was only 20kc, a footy club that cares about family and the ladies, are we really in CZ. A professional sounding DJ was on the decks and a small TV camera filming events was not what i expected, better than most premier league games.
Then the restaurant slap bang in the grounds, we didnt take a meal, but the menu had the lot at good prices and was worth coming even earlier for, particularly as one of my favourite beers in the world awaited. Yep, they have Chyne Polotmavy( half-dark ) on tap for 22kc, i almost wet myself!!

This was what the hangover from a big Friday night needed, they even had draught Kofola( superior coke ). The beer was as good as i remember from visiting the nearby brewery, even from a plastic glass, superb, smooth and going down rather too quickly.
The restaurant even has live coverage of the match beamed onto a screen, amazing, just what the missus needed in the increasingly cold weather.
Then the football, well it wasn't Man United, but standing next to the pitch with planes from the nearby airport whizzing overhead, ball boys crossing wheat fields to retrieve the ball, no hassles, quality beer and about 125 locals close by, i would rather head down Ke Goniu than Old Trafford any day.
One down at half time and a missed penalty required a smoked sausage from the refreshment stall, very nice it was too at 35kc with lashings of horseradish and mustard, it went pretty well with the beer. We didnt win the tombola, but apparently if you win the star prize of 1000g of raw meat, you have to share it with the team afterwards!!!
A few more pints and a stirring comeback ( Kopanina won 2-1 ) later, it was time to catch the bus back to Prague. Rest assured i will be at the final home game of the season.

FC Kopanina play at Ke Goniu 123, Prague 6
Next match = 7/11/09 @ 14.00
Bus schedule @ jizdnirady.idnes.cz/praha/spojeni/ ( from Dejvicka to Predni Kopanina )