Well, you probably know already that Czechs are a beer nation. And that the Czech Republic is famous for beer production and consumption. By all accounts the Czechs drink more beer per capita, overwhelmingly Czech in origin, than any other nation in the world - Germans and Irish included (the actual numbers are: 143 liters annually for every man, woman and child in the country). But there are more interesting and fun facts about Czech beer.
In good restaurants you can experience four different ways to pour, all of which have varying amounts of foam.
Creme Urquell (hladinka): the classic way of draughting Czech pilsner, with about one quarter foam. The foam line should sit slightly below the half-liter mark, bringing the beer even with the line when it settles
Slice (šnyt or košt): drawn from the tap with substantial six-finger foam - two fingers of beer, three fingers of foam, and one finger of empty glass
Sweet (mlíko): a glass almost entirely full of foam, except for a sliver of beer at the bottom
Neat (čochtan): the purpose is to fill the glass with no head, also in one go. From all the styles, in this case the beer contains most natural CO2. The beer seems to be very rich and has unusually strong zest. Čochtan is the beer for real experts who know how to drink it.
When you toast, say na zdraví ("nah ZDRAH-vee", which means 'to your health') and look into your drinking partner's eyes (if you don't, then you might be considered as a disrespectful person). Also remember that no two drinkers are allowed to cross or intersect arms. And if you really want to act like a local, touch your glass to the table before lifting it to your mouth.
When entering a pub or bar, the man should walk in first followed by the woman. This is an old custom from a time when pubs were considered as dangerous places and the gentleman was expected to check if all was safe and secure before allowing his lady to enter.
Beer is cheaper than water in most bars, pubs and restaurants. I told you already that we are a beer nation, right?
The oldest brewery in the Czech Republic is the Břevnov Monastery (Břevnovský klášter), which was founded in 993 AD. Hence the first Benedictine male monastery in Bohemia, it also has the oldest tradition of beer brewing in the Czech Republic, up to today, the Břevnovský Benedict beer is brewed here.
What temperature is the best for beer? Well, the answer to that really depends on the type of beer you're drinking.
1. Very cold (0-4 °C) – light or low alcohol beers (as they warm up, don't taste very good)
2. Cold (4-7° C) – lighter styles of beer (pilsner, light-bodied lagers, sweet fruit-flavored)
3. Chilled (8-12° C) – most craft beers (medium-bodied lagers)
4. Cellar (12-14° C) – higher alcohol, richly flavored beers (bitter, English-style cider)
5. Warm (14-16° C) - brings out the full flavor of the beer (dark, spiced winter ales)
Those places offers great opportunity to interact with locals:
První Pivní Tramway (First Beer Tramway) - located at the end station of the tram line No. 11 (Spořilov). Smoky, dark, narrow and covered with semi-obscene frescoes, this pub serves three regular kinds of beers and five kinds of varied beers (depends on their current offer)
Zlý časy (Evil Times) - with almost 150 bottles of beer and 48 beers on tap, this bar is full of experts and will answer any questions you may have about beer (but usually in Czech language only)
BeerGeek Bar - offers 32 taps from small regional craft breweries to international breweries. And I'm pretty sure that you'll find a beer from your country as their Pivotéka (not far away from the bar) offers the biggest collection of bottled beers in Prague - more than 500!
Pivovarský klub (Brewer's Club) – a perfect place to buy souvenirs. You can select over 240 kinds of beer in bottles and bring them home. Or try 6 beers on tap right away
Beer gardens - if you want to experience an authentic, often curious episode, head to the beer gardens and enjoy the stunning view of the city. Here you can find all the Prague's beer gardens.
Combine beer with relaxation and you get the beer bath. Unknown to many, beer has some curative effects - it hydrates the skin and acts as an exfoliant. It also adds volume and shine to your hair. Go for it and immerse yourself in a warm beer bath, bubbles and sensations simultaneously quenching thirst with a glass of cool beer...
PS: Sample the best Czech beers on our three-hour tasting session with unlimited consumption. Martin P. explains the most important aspects of professional beer tasting and tells you everything about the Czech beer.
Or make a trip on bike and head out of Prague with Caroline H. to a small (but still popular) microbrewery near the capital!
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