Tram 11 and Olomouc
The beer scene in Prague and the Czech Republic continues to flourish and in this article I will recommend some hostelries that you can visit in the south of Prague using the tram 11 route, provide details of two pivovars in Olomouc and highlight a bar in the centre of Prague that has radically changed its approach to piva.
As detailed in earlier articles you really, really don't want to be caught on this tram, or any other part of Prague's excellent public transport system, without a valid ticket! The fine is now 900 Crowns but is reduced to 700 - about £26 - if paid straightaway.
You can board tram 11 from just outside I P Pavlova station but make sure that you're heading south towards Sporilov. You can stay on the tram to the Sporilov terminus, a journey of around 20 minutes, and visit the Privni Pivni Tramway or alight at the Namesti Brati Synku stop and visit Pivovar Basta and Zly Casy.
Zly Casy Cestmirova 5.
Zly Casy, evil times in Czech, is a fantastic pub but it is not the easiest place to find. It's only about 2 minutes walk from the tram stop, in a north easterly direction, but the pub sign is small and very easy to miss. Walk along Cestmirova on the left hand side and look out for a Staropramen sign and then bear to the left as you enter and walk down some steps. Opening times are 11.00 to 23.30 Monday to Friday and 17.00 to 23.00 at the weekend.
A good range of Czech ""pub-grub"" is served but the real attraction of this bustling establishment is the 15 beers that are on tap. See www.zlycasy.eu for details of the draught beers - eeporana piva and the bottled beers - lahvova piva. On a recent visit we were fortunate enough to be able to sample 2 beers from the Matsouka brewery - this is the personal brewery of Martin Matouska the head brewer at the Klasterni pivovar Strahov - a honey beer from the Rambousek brewery and an outstanding Slouchia Svetly Special from the Slovakian Sessler brewery. The Svetley Special weighed in at 20% on the balling scale, around 7% abv, and was a smooth tasting beer with a pronounced nose and after taste of whisky. The 2 Matsouka beers were a very satisfying 14% Tmavy (Dark) special, a porter style beer with a rich coffee nose, and a 15% IPA with a great spicy and peppery taste and a citrus fruit finish.. Prices for a half litre range from 22 to 49 Crowns.
In the photo taken in the Zly Casy, and looking a little worse for wear perhaps, is my friend Max Bahnson, AKA the Pivni Filosofer. A native of Buenos Aries who has lived in the Czech Republic for almost 10 years Max, who speaks fluent Spanish, English and Czech, is with doubt my favourite beer blogger. His enthusiasm for and appreciation of fine beer, from the Czech Republic and around the World, will become clear to anyone who reads his blog. If you want to know what's happening on the Czech beer scene then look no further than www.pivni-filosoph.com
Pivovar Basta Taborska 49.
The Pivovar Basta is situated at Taborska 49 and you may be able to discern from the photo that it's a non-smoking establishment. It is less than 5 minutes walk from the Zly Casy. The pivovar's web-site, which doesn't appear to be updated on a particularly regular basis, can be found at www.unbanoutha.cz
This attractive brewpub, which has a pleasant beer garden, opened some three and a half years ago. On a recent visit the 3 beers on offer were a svetly 12, a polotmave (half-dark) 12 and special svetly 14. The brewery also does a range of specials to include ginger and rauch (smoked) beers. On past visits I've found the beers to have a rather yeasty taste but I was impressed with the polotmave that had a toasted taste and a well-balanced malty body. To be fair, the two British friends I was with when I last visited the pub in March 2010 were decidedly complimentary about the 2 svetly pivas as was a Czech friend. The food is hearty and good value. If you like spicy food then you may wish to try the jalapeno peppers stuffed with blue cheese.
Prvni Pivni Tramway Na Chodovici 1A.
Undoubtedly one of the easiest pubs to find in Prague as the last stop of the number 11 tram is about ten yards from its front door. This tram-themed pub may not always feel the most welcoming to non-Czech speakers but the range and quality of the beers, including an excellent Primator Stout on a recent visit, make it well worth a visit. Opening hours are 14.00 to 24.00 daily.
The city of Olomouc in the Olomouc region of Moravia is noted for its architecture, the column of the holy trinity in the main square is a Unesco world heritage sight, and attracts significantly less tourists than Prague. The rail journey from Prague is now around two and quarter hours if you take a high-speed Pendolino train.
Reviews in Evan Rail's Good Beer Guide to Prague & the Czech Republic and information taken from various web-sites recommended visits to two pivovars in Olomouc, Moritz and Svatovaclavsky, so after a walk around this very attractive city we paid a visit to both of them.
Moritz. Nesverova 2.
Another non-smoking establishment situated in the basement of a handsome building. Open from 11.00 to 23.00 Monday to Friday and 11.00 to 24.00 at week-ends. Details of the extensive menu and further information can be found at www.hostenic-moritz.com. The beers available on a visit in late March 2010 unfortunately didn't include the 13% Cerna Tereza. The two beers that we did try, a 10% svetly and a 12% svetly, were pleasant but not overly exciting. The 10% had more carbonation and a sweeter taste but I thought that both beers were a little yeasty tasting with a neutral nose. The atmosphere in the bar was welcoming and the food looked very good so I'd welcome the opportunity to go back to the Moritz and try the beers, hopefully including the Cerna Tereza, again.
Svatovaclaclavsky. Riegrova 22.
As can be seen from the photograph the Wenceslas brewpub offers a number of beers from the excellent Svijany brewery, plus Staropramen, as well as its own beers. The brewery seems to have cut back on the number of beers on offer; maybe March is not the best time to visit? but we were impressed with the Valasek 13% that was on offer. The beer has an attractive dark amber colour and quite a high level of carbonation. A nose reminiscent of vimto may not sound particularly appealing but this cherry beer was well balanced with a lingering after taste. Another establishment that I would happily return to.
Jama. V Jame 7. Prague 1.
Regular visitors to Prague may remember that the Jama pub was recommended in the first edition of Camra's Good Beer Guide to Prague and the Czech Republic. It's a lively establishment in the centre of Prague, open from 11.00 to 1.00, aimed at the tourist market. See www.jamapub.cz for further information. The web-site, as of April 2010, shows an unexciting selection of beers but we were informed by the Pivni Filosofer that the pub now sources its beers from the K brewery company and 9 beers from breweries such as Klaster, Lobkowicz and Rychtar Hlinsko are on offer. Sounds as though the Jama will now definitely be worth a visit if you're in the centre of town.
Although the exchange rate is still unfavourable, Prague remains a fantastic city to visit for the discerning drinker. Combining all or some of the above with visits to the the Richter brewery U Bulovky, Pivovarsky dum and klub, U Medvidku and the Pivovarsky dvur Chyne to name but a few other fine drinking establishments you will be really spoilt for choice for fine Czech beers. There are rumoured to be a number of other new breweries opening up in greater Prague this year, and more pubs are increasing their range of beers, so it's well worth keeping an eye on Max's blog.
John Bush - April 2010