Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Bullets and tools

In a very short walking distance from both Wenceslas Square and the Opera house in Prague, you can find an interesting restaurants with much lower prices than the tourist traps in the city centre. I have not tasted the food, but the interior is nice and the beers are very good.

Ferdinanda specialises in beers from the Ferdinand brewery from Benešov. When I entered Ferdinanda a March afternoon, I went downstairs to find a long bar and some tables. There were few people there, but the room had a nice ambience. The minimalistic paintings and graffiti on the bar were a nice touch, but I really liked the use of tools on the tables. Forks and knives were placed in metallic buckets, and hammers were the main focus on the salt, pepper and oil trays.

The Ferdinand brewery has taken its name from the archduke Franz Ferdinand, who lived in Benešov. The killing of the archduke in Sarajevo ignited World War I. This is also hinted to in Ferdinand's most famous beer, Sedm kulí. Translated to English this means seven bullets, which is the same amount of bullets used to kill the archduke.

Sedm kulí is a coppery beer served in 0.4 litre glasses. There was nearly no carbonation in the beer, and it was served with a medium sized head. In the nose there are some burnt aromas, and they are also present in the mouth with some malts, spices and sweetness. The finish is nice and balanced with a hint of bitterness. A very good beer!

There were also other beers available at Ferdinanda, so I also tried the 10° pale lager from Ferdinand. This time I was given a pale beer with a large head and no carbonation. I could not feel any aromas from the beer, but in the mouth there was malts, some vanilla and a nice feeling of some bitterness in the finish. This was a nice pale lager, and it is one that I can recommend as a very good session beer.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

No more U Slovanské Lípy

Earlier this month I had another visit to one of my favourite pubs in Prague. U Slovanské Lípy was different, as it had excellent beers from the Kout na Šumavě brewery. It was the first pub in Prague to offer these beers on a regular basis, and I also enjoyed being there as the service was very good. According to Pivní Filosof, who introduced me to U Slovanské Lípy, the pub has closed down for good. That is a shame, as I liked both the pub and especially the beers.

As a tourist to Prague, there are still possibilities to find beer from Kout na Šumavě. The restaurant in the Dancing House sells Kout na Šumavě's golden lager, but at a much higher price than U Slovanské Lípy.

I will miss U Slovanské Lípy when I go to Prague, but I hope that I will still be able to drink beers from the Kout na Šumavě brewery the next time I visit the Czech capital.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Another Czech brewpub

The Nusle neighbourhood in Prague is not where most tourists end up visiting, but for a beer interested person Nusle is a must. There are several bars there serving excellent Czech beers not neccessarily found elsewhere in Prague.

One such place is Bašta near the Nusle town hall. I jumped on tram number 18 to the stop Nuselská radnice. Down the street, next to the U Bansethu hospoda you can find Bašta.

Bašta is a restaurant, but more interestingly it is also a brewpub with several different beers available from tap. The evening I was there, three beers were available.

As I was planning to visit more places in the neighbourhood, I decided to taste only one kind of beer: The pale lager. It was nearly coppery in colour, had a large head and no carbonation. In the nose there was some fruitiness, and the nice fruit notes were also present in the mouth with hints of malt. This was a delicious beer, and I just had to take another.

The waitresses were nice and friendly, and I enjoyed being at Bašta. But I need to go back there to try the lager once again and also get a taste of Bašta's other beers.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Finally U Fleku

There is one place in Prague that all tourist books mention. Some praise its menu, while others warn that the restaurant is nothing but a tourist trap. U Fleku is well known, and many Prague visitors have been there. I had not until earlier this month, when I entered the restaurant established in 1499.

I was not at U Fleku to try the food. Instead I wanted to try the dark beer brewed on the premises. Flekovske pivo is in many ways unique. If some of the guide books are to be believed, the current beer has been brewed at U Fleku since early in the 19th century. This makes the beer very special and like a relic from old times.

The beer hall at U Fleku was full of people the evening I visited. I heard English, German and Spanish spoken, and people were sitting enjoying their food and dark beer. They were also entertained. A duo with tuba and accordion played music, possibly Czech tunes. It felt like visiting a German bierstube.

I ordered a beer, and it arrived very suddenly from a waiter carrying a lot of beer glasses. The beer was black with a large head. There was little aroma, but I felt a hint of cold coffee. In the mouth coffee notes danced with delicious sweetness, some burnt notes and dark chocolate. A lovely beer!

As I was sitting in the restaurant, another waiter came around carrying shot glasses of Becherovka. I am fond of the Czech liquor, but I did not want any at U Fleku. The excellent dark lager was enough for me. It was both aperitif, main course and dessert.

U Fleku is by all means a tourist trap. Prices are high, and some visitors tell that they believe that the Becherovka handed out is for free. Until the bill comes, that is. Myself, I enjoyed the beer and for a time also the atmosphere. If U Fleku was in my neighbourhood I would not be a frequent guest, but as a tourist it is well worth taking the trip to enjoy a very good and special beer.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Bridge beer

Prague has several brewpubs, and I have visited some of them. One of the brewpubs was found more or less by mistake. I had an appointment at U Medvidku, and on my way there I was walking near the Charles bridge on the eastern bank of the river Moldau. I walked past the Duende restaurant, which is recommended for its Bernard beer in Evan Rail's excellent book Good Beer Guide to Prague and the Czech Republic. I had time for a beer, but decided to keep on walking towards U Medvidku. On my way I went into Betlémská street, and on my left hand side I found the Pražský most u Valšu restaurant. The restaurant is, by the way, not mentioned in Rail's book.

Outside the restaurant I could see on a sign that this place also had its own brewery. I had time for a beer, so I went inside and sat down at a table. A smiling waitress was there at once giving me a menu. I declined and asked for their pale lager. After a minute or so the waitress was back, and this time with a mug of beer.

In the glass the beer was nearly copper coloured, but also a little bit unclear. It had a large head, and there was nearly no visible carbonation. There was nearly no aromas from the beer, but I felt some malt. In the mouth the malt was back together with some lemon. In the aftertaste there was a hint of melon. An OK beer, but it lacks some the richness found in lager beers from brewpubs like U Medvidku in Prague or Pegas in Brno.

There was not time for more beers at Pražský most u Valšu, and I went out into the streets to find U Medvidku. But I will return, as there were also other beers on the restaurant's menu.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

At the beer kiosk


Walking around Prague is a great thing for a beer lover. Everywhere you will find a taproom that sells very good Czech beer. Of course, after several visits to the Czech Republic, I am a little bit picky in what I choose to drink. Pilsner Urquell is one of my favourites, but usually I pass the bars and pubs specializing in the golden lager from Plzen. Instead I try to find places selling beers I have never tried before.

An early afternoon I was walking around the Holesovice neighbourhood and ended up at Vystaviste. Vystaviste is a great place to be. If you like ice hockey, Sparta Prague plays their matches at the Tesla arena here. In addition to this you can find an aquarium, a fun fair, the big exhibition centre and a beautiful and large park. On the other side of the street from the ice hockey arena I saw a kiosk selling draught beer from the Postrižinské brewery - also known as Nymburk.

I went to the kiosk, which was called U Viaduktu, and ordered a half litre of lager beer. I was given a white plastic cup with a golden beer with a large head and nearly no carbonation. I could not feel any aroma from the beer, but the taste was malty with a slight hoppy bitterness in the finish. I liked it, and took the beer with me into the park.

An hour later I passed the kiosk again. A few people were sitting on benches next to it, and they drank beer from glasses. I decided to sit down, only to find out that I had to go to the counter to order. I did - and once again I was served beer in a plastic cup. Perhaps the glasses are for the frequent guests? Still, I liked sitting down at the U Viaduktu kiosk enjoying the Spring sun and the Nymburk lager. It was a nice and unexpected find in Prague.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Back to U Slovanské Lípy

I have been to Prague again, and as always for me a visit to the U Slovanské Lípy pub is a must. This time I went to the Žížkov hospoda around noon. My plan was to sit down and drink myself through all the various beers offered from the Kout na Šumave brewery.

Readers of this blog knows that I am a big fan of Kout na Šumave's beers, and I even made the 12° golden lager my favourite pale lager of 2009. I knew I was in for a treat as I sat down in the taproom. It was therefore a big disappointment to find only one available beer, the 10° golden lager. There were no dark lagers and also no unfiltered versions of the beers. At my earlier visits they have always had at least three different beers.

The taproom was almost empty. In addition to me there were three guests sharing one table. The waitresses that have been at U Slovanské Lípy earlier were gone, and this time a man was serving the table. He gave me a half litre glass of the available beer, and once again I could enjoy an extremely tasty golden lager.

From the Kout na Šumave 10° golden lager I felt grains and some fruit in the nose. As usual it was served with a medium sized head and nearly no carbonation. The beer is really refreshing with a hint of apples, and it is well worth for a Prague traveller going to Žížkov to try this excellent lager.

I will of course return to U Slovanské Lípy, and next time I hope there are more Kout na Šumave beers available.