We’ve been traveling to the Czech Republic for years and learn more every time we visit. During our early visits, I was mostly amazed at the price of beer in Prague. Over the years we started to dive a little deeper into the Czech beer culture. And, what better place to do that than the city that hosts the Prague Beer Museum and the Beer Spa in Prague? In this Prague beer guide, we will share our tips on how to drink beer in the Czech Republic. This includes how to find a beer hall in Prague and how to go beer tasting in Prague. I will also share information on how to find Czech craft beer.
Prague Beer Guide – How To Drink Beer In The Czech Republic
Each time we travel to Prague, we learn something new about the beer culture. In the Czech Republic, people take their beer very seriously. The tips below just scratch the surface of the information needed to travel to the Czech Republic for beer. It’s not meant for beer aficionados, just for people who like to seek the best beer when traveling.
Where to Stay in Prague
Emblem Hotel, part of the Preferred Hotels Program, with rooms starting around €225 a night. It’s a unique, boutique hotel, in the heart of old town. (Check out Trip Advisor Reviews here | Book here)
Four Seasons Prague, a five-star hotel, with views over the river, with rooms starting at €330 a night (Check out Trip Advisor Reviews here | Book here)
What Is a Pivovar and Pivo Beer?
Pivo is a beer. A pivovar is a Czech brewery. Generally, these are beer halls or restaurants that brew their own beer. An example is Pivovar Národní in Prague, a beer garden in Prague that brews their own beer. We drank their unfiltered draft beer (explained below), along with beef tartare and an enormous pork knee in a lovely beer garden. It’s the perfect place to drink a pivo beer in Prague. It’s also a good introduction to Czech Republic beer.
That’s the difference between a pivovar and a bar: there is always something to eat. Unlike in the US, there is no significant markup on beer in the Czech Republic. A Prague beer hall makes little money on the sale of beer, which is how the Czech beer price is kept so low. Instead, they make their money on food, or minimally, on beer snacks. So, be thankful that the price of beer in Prague is so low, but spend that extra change on some amazing Czech food!
Don’t Just Drink It, Experience Czech Beer On One Of These Tours:
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What is Tank Beer Prague?
At it’s most simple, tank beer is draft, or draught beer, served from a tank. Most draft beer is delivered to a pub or bar in a barrel. It is usually pasteurized and has preservatives that help it last longer. A barrel or keg of beer can sit in the basement of a bar for quite some time without going bad. Tank beer is the complete opposite.
Similar to bia hoi, the famous fresh draft beer in Hanoi, which must be drunk in a day, tank beer is unpasteurized and has no preservatives. It must be drunk within a day or so, to be at its best. The reason why it’s called tank beer is that it is delivered to the pubs in temperature controlled trucks, more reminiscent of small oil tankers. It is then pumped into large metal tanks inside the pub.
One Of The Best Beer Places in Prague For Tank Beer
This is my favorite way to drink beer in the Czech Republic, particularly at beer halls or a Prague beer house, like Lokal, with locations all over Prague. It’s a traditional style Czech beer hall, with tasty food, and is one of our must-visits every time we are in Prague. It’s like visiting a Prague brewery, just one where the beer is made off-site.
One of the more interesting things at Lokal is the beer tab. When you sit down a piece of paper with a mess of beer mugs is placed in front of you. Every time they deliver beers to the table, they check off a mug. Just once I would love to make it through an entire sheet with a group of friends. But, that could get dangerous. How much is a beer in Prague? Normally between $1.50 and $2 USD. Although we have similar beer prices in Spain, the quality and size of beers in Prague is much better.
Filtered Versus Unfiltered Czech Beer
Here’s where the technical stuff comes in, but I’ll try to keep it simple. This is not an in-depth expose of Czech lager, it is merely a guide to help understand beer menus in the Czech Republic. Here is also where my wine knowledge comes in handy.
After wine is fermented, it’s a bit cloudy and can have a lot of sediment in it. After it is filtered, it becomes clear, like we are used to seeing in white, rose, and sparkling wines. Beer is similar. Recently, over the last few decades, people are used to seeing crisp and clear beers, think Budweiser. Currently, the trend is reversing, where craft brewers are leaving their craft beer unfiltered, to maintain taste. In the Czech Republic, beer is often categorized as filtered (meaning more crisp and clear) or unfiltered (meaning cloudy, but more flavorful).Looking for something unique to do in Prague? Check out some of these movie filming locations in Prague.
The Czech Beer Called Milk Beer
No, this is not a beer for children. During our Taste of Prague food tour, our host and guide, Jan, taught us something brand new: milk beer. One of Eric’s pet peeves about drinking Czech beer is the amount of foam. Eric is used to ordering a pint of beer and getting a full pint of liquid, with little head. In the Czech Republic, beer is served with a good amount of head. It’s also possible to order a beer with about 50 percent head (šnyt), or even around 90 percent head. These 90 percent head beers come out white and almost completely foamy, hence the name milk beer, or Mlìko beer.
Mlìko beer is often drunk at lunchtime, to limit consumption. Or, some people just like the flavor of the foam. It’s kind of liking drinking a beer cloud. I’m with Eric on this one, though. When I order a Czech beer, I want beer, not foam. But, it’s worth trying at least once. In the photo above we also tried Czech dark beer, which tends to be a little sweeter, and therefore more popular with women.
What Is The Most Famous Czech Beer?
So what is the best Czech beer? Obviously, it is in the eyes of the drinker. Everyone likes something different from their beer. Although the price of a pint in Prague is less than many other areas of Europe, that doesn’t mean the Czechs produce cheap beer. The beer, even the mass-produced beer, is very good. I’ll talk in more depth about some of our favorite beers in the country, but here is an overview of some of the most popular and well-known of the beers.
The original Czech pilsner beer is Pilsner Urquell from Plzeň, which is just outside of Prague. It’s probably the most popular Czech beer in the world, and it is easy to find in Prague as well. One of the most well-known beers in the world has to be Budweiser, but many people don’t know the origins of this beer. Before the Americans misappropriated the name, it was known as Budvar, from České Budějovice. It’s still possible to drink Budvar in the Czech Republic.
Staropramen is another popular beer that is growing in popularity outside of the Czech Republic. It originated in Prague. It’s relatively cheap and pretty easy to drink. Another beer that is well known around the Czech Republic, but probably not known outside is Kozel, the goat beer. I talk more about Kozel below.
Pilsner Urquell – The Original Czech Pilsner Beer
We’ve been on enough winery tours that we could probably open our own winery. I often find myself educating people on wine and champagne making skills. I recently found myself at a lunch overlooking a small patch of vines, explaining to my dining companion how it’s possible to tell approximately how old the vines are. I don’t think he was all that interested.
But, beer. Now, that’s a different story. Of course, we’ve toured the Guinness Brewery in Dublin. We took the regular tour about 15 years ago. More recently, we visited an Irish craft beer brewery in Dingle, Ireland. Although I enjoyed the Crean’s lager served at the Dingle Brewing Company, we didn’t really learn in much detail how the beer was made.
During our visit to the Pilsner Urquell Brewery, in Plzen, we learned a lot about the beer making process. The tour walked us through a museum of sorts that explained the manufacturing process and the history of Plzen town, and Pilsner Urquell, the most famous Czech beer. We also toured the bottling plant, although it was a cleaning day, so we saw very little bottling.
I now have a better idea of how they make Czech lager, but I would not consider myself a connoisseur by any means. I think I need a few more, in-depth Czech brewery tours, in order to understand the process better. Especially tours that end with tasting a pilsner beer directly from the barrel, in a historic underground cave. It makes a great day trip from Prague.
After our tour of the brewery and learning about beer production, we ate at Jdelini Listek, a local restaurant named after a famous Czech cartoon. The food was good, and I was happy to indulge in a large platter of roasted duck, red cabbage, and dumplings, one of my favorite meals in the Czech Republic. There was also something about knocking back a pilsner, just down the road from where pilsner lager was invented.
Tours of the Pilsner Urquell Brewery cost about $9, with discounts offered by booking ahead of time online. Tour options and times are a little complicated, so definitely check the website. Or, learn more about the Pilsner Urquell Tour here.
Kozel Beer – The Goat Beer
For the most part, I drank two beers when in the Czech Republic: Pilsner Urquell, and Kozel Beer. Kozel is one of the most popular Czech beers, and you can find it by looking for the goat. It might be entirely possible that I enjoy Kozel because of the goat, but it also is available almost everywhere, making it easy to find and easy to drink.
One of the surprising things about Kozel is that is available in several varieties, including a Czech dark beer variety, which I actually enjoyed. Generally, if I’m not drinking Guinness, I like simple, clean, crisp beers. But the Kozel dark was nice, and a little sweet. Apparently, it’s very popular with the ladies. Although they call their strong dark beer a billy goat, goat is translated to kozel in Czech. How adorable is that? One of the best places to drink Kozel in Prague is at Kozlovna U Paukerta, which not only has Kozel beer and a good food selection, but their logo includes two goats with giant beer bellies. How can you not want to hang out there?
Craft Beer in the Czech Republic
After a long day visiting Plzen, and touring the Pilsner Urquell brewery, there was part of me that just wanted to head back to the hotel for a nap. Instead, our itinerary had us visiting another brewery, on the way home to Prague. The train stopped in Beroun, seemingly in the middle of nowhere. We kind of were in the middle of nowhere. As we walked through what seemed like a junkyard, with abandoned buildings, and rusting military tanks.
But, at the heart of the junkyard was Berounský medvěd, a traditional beer hall serving its own Czech craft beer. When the barman at Berounsky Medved started to pour a tasting flight of beers, I was immediately relieved that we were about to share the six glasses. It was a nice change from the Kozel and Pilsner Urquell. But, give me a goat beer any time, and I’m more than happy. And, if you find yourself taking the train to Prague, and you pass through Beroun, stop in for a glass, or six.
Check Out Our Drinking Czech Beer Video:
Learn More About Czech Beers
Want to learn more? How about planning a trip around the Prague Beer Festival. This Czech beer fest is held annually during the last two weeks of May and the first two weeks of June. Learn more here. If you can’t make it Prague during the festival, and can’t make it out to the junkyard craft beer bar or to Pilsen, check out some of these top places to drink beer in Prague:
- Letná Beer Garden on Letenske Sady 341 in Prague 7 is easily the best beer garden in Prague. It has an impressive view over the city during nice weather.
- Riegrovy Sady Beer Garden on Riedgrovy Sady 28 in Prague in Prague 2 is another great Prague beer garden with a large grassy area to enjoy over the summer.
- Visit Restaurace U Fleku, which is supposed to be the oldest brewery in Prague, originally dating to 1762.
- Check out the Staropramen Brewery just down the river from the center of Prague.
- Check out one of the craft beer bars in Prague, like Craft House Prague in New Town or Beer Geek Bar in Prague 2.
Looking For Unique Food, Beer and Wine Tours in the Czech Republic?
Looking for a unique way to learn about traditional Czech food in Prague, or farther afield in the rest of the country? What about an interesting Prague beer tour, or even a Czech wine tour? How about contemporary cuisine in Brno, or even some cool cocktail bars. Here are our recommendations for Czech food tours to learn more about Czech cuisine and traditions.[table id=7 /]
*This post contains compensated links. Find more info in my DISCLAIMER.
We were supported by Visit Czech Republic, South Moravia, and JayWay Travel, who offers customized tours of the Czech Republic and all of Central and Eastern Europe. Of course, all opinions, and yummy sounds are my own. While in Prague, we stayed at the lovely and contemporary Emblem Hotel, just steps from Old Town.
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Amber Hoffman, food and travel writer behind With Husband In Tow, is a recovering attorney and professional eater, with a passion for finding new Food and Drink Destinations. She lives with her husband, Eric, in Girona, Catalonia, Spain. Together over the last 20 years, they have traveled to over 70 countries. Amber is the author of the Food Traveler’s Guide to Emilia Romagna.
4 thoughts on “Prague Beer Guide: How To Drink Czech Republic Beer”
I usually prefer wine when out drinking, even so when visiting the Czech Republic. There are some really nice local wines. One thing is for sure though, there is something special with going to a pivovar in a town like Brno, Ostrava or Olomouc and asking for a pivo. I lived in Slovakia for some time and it was the same there. The atmosphere and beer at some of those places really makes an experience by itself when traveling. 🙂
Totally agree! We enjoyed the wine, particularly the whites and sparkling. But, I still like the atmosphere of a traditional Czech beer hall.
Hi. I have never heard that beer in KEGs in CZ contains “preservatives that help it last longer”. Does anybody know what these preservatives are and where this information received from??
Actually, I said the opposite. Almost every keg of beer in the world is filled with preservatives. It’s what helps the keg last long enough to be served. The Czech tank beer is fresh beer, without preservatives. It is normally drank within a day or two.