Saturday, August 29, 2009

Klasterni Pivovar Strahov, Prague

Klasterni Pivovar Strahov
Strahovske Nadvori 10
233 353 155

Up on a hill....

Above a Castle...

...sits the Klasterni Strahov, a new brewpub in a very old location. The Monastery at Strahov dates back to 1142, and beer has been brewed on-site for centuries - however, the current Pivovar has been brewing its own St. Norbert lagers since 2001. It's easy to reach by Prague's famous trams, as Line #22 will drop you off just yards from the driveway. Inside the property is, yes, a monastery and chapel, but for me the attraction was this delightful outdoor patio.

I thoroughly enjoyed the St. Norbert Amber Lager, and my friend Ute said that the dark was delicious (always a smaller size, Ute?). An American family was at the table next to us, and Dad was singing the praises of the Special Weizen. The wheats aren't usually a fave of mine, but here goes nothing!

It was delicious! Cool, tasty, VERY fresh!

As it should be, since the copper kettles were sitting about ten feet away from me!

I found the service to be excellent. An extra smile and a couple of attempts at Czech and a compliment or two, and the staff melted like ice cubes. They were a delight to chat with, and looked after us very well. I hadn't noted the Cloister as a Must-Visit while planning my Prague Pubs, but I was very glad to have made the effort to visit. They rate a delightful and friendly 8 out of 10 on my Yuk/Yummy Scale of beery goodness, and they'll definitely be on my return list for my next trip to Prague. Pricier than the older "locals" down in the city, but well worth the journey to the top of the hill.
NEXT: Tiger in your Tankova!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

U Medvidku, Prague

U Medvidku

Na Perstyne 7
224 211 916

It's somewhere behind all that scaffolding. It's a beer hall, a restaurant, a brew pub, a small hotel, and a museum / souvenir shop! U Medvidku ("At the Little Bears") is one of Prague's most important suds-related addresses. Been there, drunk the beer, got the ball cap! What more can I say?

Well, how about a look inside, for starters? It's one of the larger "traditional" Prague pubs, and the ground floor features TWO rooms - the above is the one nearest the front door - with plenty of space to settle in and enjoy one of the Czech Republic's most famous, if not controversial, beers.

Yes, it's none other than Budweiser!! But this is NOT your Uncle Sam's Bud. This is Bud Right, the original Budvar, and its lovely taste bears absolutely no resemblence to the American Budweiser with the Clydesdales and the expensive TV commercials. U Medvidku offers a light and dark Budweiser on tap in its main room, plus a series of Budvar specials in another corner of the premises. Both Buds were fresh, delicious, and easily earned a solid 8 out of 10 happy gulps on Mooncattie's Yuk/Yummy scale of lager 'liciousness. All well and good....but these Little Bears have a special surprise waiting for you just up the stairs....

Do I look happy, or what? What?! It's U Medvidku's special own brew, none other than Old Gott! We patrons of the top floor were being supplied with this special darker, and slightly stronger, lager courtesy of a single spigot attached to a rather largish barrel on the other side of a glass barrier. Lots of copper kettles and bits and pieces of old brewing equipment, sadly not photographed by your rather far-too-pleased correspondent. The brewpub section of U Medvidku also offers a VERY strong (over 12%) X-Beer, but I was eager to avoid falling down and injuring myself until the last possible moment. Mission accomplished! Old Gott scores 9 out of 10 for me. What a lovely place this was to visit. Please can I go back?
NEXT: The Cloister Above The Castle

Monday, August 17, 2009

Prvni Pivni Tramway, Prague

Prvni Pivni Tramway
Na Chadovci 1A
272 765 683

All Aboard for a very special beer experience! My Prague Pub Pilgrimage has shifted into high gear by my second afternoon in the Czech Republic, and now it's time for a little adventure.

I boarded a #11 Tram and rode for twenty minutes or so to the end of the line at Sporilov. Not so scenic out here in the 'burbs, is it? But Lucky Number 11 will deliver you directly to the front door of the Prvni Pivni Tramway, "The First Beer Tramway" pub!

What an amazing and truly unique pub! Part of the interior is laid out like an old-fashioned Prague Tram.

Inside I found a hard-rockin' atmosphere, veering towards a punk/goth soundtrack. They had settled down to U2 by the time I left. The main bar area was covered in all kinds of "stuff", much of it somewhat on the risqué side, and all of it loads of fun. The staff were very friendly, and whenever they felt like it, they rang the authentic old Tram Bell (directly over the server's head). Ordering a second beer seemed to get me the Ring-a-Ding treatment!

The First Beer Tramway differs from most Prague taverns in that it isn't a strictly one-brewery operation. The sign outside indicates that Pilsner Urquell is indeed available here, but Prvni Pivni also prides itself on a "rotating tap" or a visiting draft. This was the Guest Beer when I showed up - a Holba Serak from the eastern part of the country. Very nice and tasty, if a little bitter to my (after)taste. For 29 CZK (approx. $1.75 Canadian) a pint, who am I to complain? I'm not complaining! It's a Pleasant 7 on the Goodness Scale!

Oh my. Oh my. Here's the real deal. On tap that wondrous day was a Primator Premium Dark. Wow! I've never tasted anything quite like it. Very filling, with a hint of coffee. Evan Rail's guide also mentions cola and ginger notes. Do I detect cocoa as well? No matter, it was magnificent. One of the best glasses of beer it has ever been my pleasure to slurp, and easily a 9 out of 10 on my Yuk/Yummy Scale of Goodness, and maybe a 95% overall, but I'll have to return to Prague and visit this lovely bar again for a longer period of time and verify this rating. Suddenly, I felt at home. I must have been smiling a lot by this time, as I kept hearing that darn Trolley Bell! What a great place!

NEXT: Lose your cares At The Little Bears!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

U Hrocha, Prague

U Hrocha
Thunovska 10
257 316 890

U Hrocha (its name means "At the Hippo") can be found on a quiet side street just down the hill from the Prague Castle. It was my second Prague Pub, and my first at what I would call a traditional "local" establishment. At a spot like this, knowing a little Czech Beer Etiquette will go a long way towards enjoying a great Pub experience!

For starters, it's a good idea to get on the staff's good side. Keep in mind that these pubs tend to be very small, with perhaps only five or so tables, and that they all tend to have "Reserved" signs on them. Reserved for locals, that is, and these places would be quite happy to do without any backpackers from Ontario or anywhere else showing up. So....
Greet the server with a cheery "Dobry Den!" ("Good Day!"), and gesture toward an empty table while saying a reverential "Je tu volno?" ("Is this taken?"), adding a submissive "Procim?" ("Please?") for extra brownie points. If the staffer grunts and nods towards a certain table, then CONGRATULATIONS!, you have made contact and you are in. Now to the beer!
U Hrocha, as befits its name, has all kinds of Hippo related brick-a-brack within the premises. The beer, however, is none other than the Czech Republic's world-famous Pilsner Urquell. This ain't your Beer Store PU, though. This is fresh from the source, by means of a quaint little tap on the counter. And at 32 CZK (less than $2 Canadian a pint), it's a cheap ticket to Pilsner Paradise. Here's another bit of Etiquette to keep in mind. The beer will keep a-comin' unless you make some noises, so when you have arrived at what you judge to be your Final Beer of the session, tell your server upon receipt "Zaplatim, procim" ("I will pay, please"), and he or she will tally up the ticks on your beer tab and present you with your total, to be paid whenever you are next able to secure their attention. Do not be in any hurry! Conclude the visit with a sincere "Dekuji" ("Thank you" - try dee-KOO-yee and you'll be close), and you'll be, almost, ready for your next pub!
As much as I enjoyed U Hrocha, I would have to say that I didn't give it quite the same Yuk/Yummy rating as Ferdinanda. The Pilsner Urquell was delicious, but I actually found tastier PU at a future location. This did seem a bit extra-bitter in the aftertaste, although I was at some point using the beer to help swallow the really strong Beer Cheese I had ordered! A 7.5 out of 10 is my way of saying that I enjoyed this pub and would be delighted to return, but it wasn't the Best of Prague.
NEXT: Glug Glug Glug Went the Trolley!


Ferdinanda, Prague
Opletalova and Politickych

This was my first pub in Prague, and it's a good one! Where else will you be offered "1 small bear" with your entree? Looking back, it seemed cleaner and more spacious than most of the traditional Prague pubs I visited. The staff was friendly, the food was delicious (great caesar salad, nice fries, tasty fried bread with cheese), and the lager was excellent.

Of course I managed to lose all my details of how much everything cost, the various % of alcohol, etc. But this photo shows that a "big" beer comes in a 0.4 liter glass, perhaps a tad short of a full pint. The prices in Prague were very reasonable, so no complaints there, and this was delicious!

My friend Ute, who generally prefers the darker beer, reported that hers tasted very nice indeed. It was a great start to our Prague pub-crawl, and I can highly recommend "Ferdinanda". Ferdinand beer, by the way, comes from Benesov, home town of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, whose nasty end in Sarajevo in 1914 led to the outbreak of World War I. It gets a big 8 out of 10 on my Yuk/Yummy Beer Scale!
NEXT: A Happening At The Hippo!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

It's August!!

Crumbs! It's been ages since I have written anything here. So busy...and when I'm not, it's difficult to get motivated to think up something to type. Thanks, however, to my buddy over at Project Fleece, I'm finally getting around to catching up on this year's events.

Let's see...

In February, I fell down. Slipped on an icy patch of sidewalk. Fractured a knee.
In July, I fell down. Tripped over a boulder. Banged up my ribs, bloodied my arm.

Aside from that, it's been all great. I visited Chicago in early May, traveled to Switzerland, Germany, and the Czech Republic in June/July, and tomorrow I fly off to Chicago for a long weekend.

If you have travel plans that involve Munich and/or Prague, and you have a hankering to visit a beergarden or pub, allow me to introduce you to two wonderful Guides that helped me make a great holiday even greater.

This is the second year running that I've made The Beer Drinker's Guide To Munich an essential part of my plans when visiting this sudsy city. Earlier entries have touched on my passion for Munich and its wonderful selection of beers and outdoor facilities in which to relax and drink them. Future submissions will outline my trips to old favourites, as well as describe a couple of adventures to new, and highly recommended, beergardens!

I visited Prague for the very first time in early July. I only had three nights to explore this historic treasure of a town, and especially wanted to make the most of the city's wonderful pubs. Fortunately, a new Guide, The Good Beer Guide to Prague, was there to help me find the best of the best. Yes, I will dish the dirt on my fave pubs in Prague, where a number of drinking establishments scored very high indeed on Mooncattie's unpatented Yuck/Yummy Scale of Goodness. Stay Tuned!

I shall close with a photographic teaser of what's to come. What a lovely holiday! Except for the Schneider Weisse, of course. Cheers!

Once you've had a Schneider Weisse, the rest of your holiday is bound to feature better beer!

A night of blues music, and a Staropramen. Oh well, at least the blues music was great!

Ah, now that's more like it! A nice stein of Spaten Helles.

NEXT! Mooncattie's first Prague Pub! Where will it be? Can you say "Archduke"?