Why is Czech beer different?
The Czech tribes made beer over 1,000 years ago and they were the first people to use hops before they even settled in what is now Prague. A definite advantage is the climate here; you’ve got some of the world’s best barley, some of the world’s best hops and extremely pure, soft water. That’s three of the four ingredients right there.
What makes Czech beer so special?
There are two things that make it different; the ingredients and the process. The ingredients are unique, with its types of barley and hops. But it’s the process that’s really different. ‘Czech beer’ is a protected term in the EU and has to be made here, with the right ingredients and with this particular process that the rest of the world no longer uses.
It takes more time and other people reckon they can approximate the taste with other ingredients, but I can tell you they can’t. You’re talking about an extra three to four hours of brewing which changes the taste and the flavour.
Why is Prague so good for beer?
It’s one of the best European cities for beer. There are other cities that have more variety or they might have a bigger craft beer scene but for a combination of traditional and craft beer, amazing prices and a beautiful setting you cannot beat Prague. And there’s extremely good public transport, key for beer travellers.
What beers can you drink in Prague on your tour?
We take in the basic common beer that anywhere else in the world would be a premium beer but here is a daily drink and we try it in one of Prague’s most beautiful beer gardens. We drink dark lager in a working man’s pub. We drink pale lagers, or pilsners, including one from a brewery founded in 993AD. We drink modern craft beers and the traditional ones in a traditional setting.
What are the best Czech beer snacks?
We have the best snacks. We have a soft marinated cheese like a Camembert, which is layered with spices similar to paprika and soaked in oil for a couple of weeks then served on a hard rye bread. It’s gooey, spicy and filling and it goes well with pilsners.
We also have a Scotch egg thanks to a wonderful British chef who has opened up one of the best-rated restaurants in Prague (we stop at his pub next door). It’s quite gourmet.
What’s the craft beer scene like in Prague?
The Czech Republic is a traditional beer brewing country and it also consumes the most beer per capita – double that of the UK and the US. We’re talking 144 litres per person per year. So while they have this proud tradition of brewing, with this kind of consumption there’s room for lots of craft beer too. There was a scene here before there was one in Germany. Czechs are traditional but also open minded so they starting brewing IPAs, British style milds and American pale ales much earlier than neighbouring countries. That’s why it’s such a great city for beer.
What’s the best beer garden in Prague on the tour?
T-Anker, which is at the top of the ugliest building in Prague, a Communist monument to brutalism. It looks over the Old Town and serves six or seven types of draught beer - all small microbreweries or regional producers.
What’s the coolest thing about Prague?
It’s a very compact city - narrow and intimate. There are so many secret doorways and little streets that you would just walk past unless you knew they were there. Some of these unknown destinations are what we’re showing to people on the tour; it's more of an inside view on Prague. There’s so much about Prague that isn’t revealed on your first visit, or third or even when you’ve lived here for 10 years. You need time or a good guide!
“There’s only two things that cure a hangover - time or death ”
How did you get involved in curating the tour?
An old friend works for Eating Europe tours and he approached me and asked me if I’d be willing to come up with the itinerary for the tour and create it. You can’t turn down an old friend! I’ve sat in on the tour and will do so in the future, it’s fun to see tourists discovering Czech beer. Tours like this are the easiest ways to understand local life. I’m a big fan of the band Pulp, and there’s a line where Jarvis Cocker says ‘I took her to a supermarket’ and I think it’s the way to understand cultures. I’ve always been fascinated with food, markets and even packaging – it all tells you something about a place and the people.
What’s your favourite hangover cure?
I like a softly cooked egg. Maybe a few. With some cheese and buttered toast. Lots of coffee. And later on Vietnamese pho. That’s very restorative. There’s only two things that cure a hangover - time or death.
What three words describe Prague?
Beautiful. Old. Secret.
Book a beer tour through Eating Europe.
Get your FREE