Monday 29 June 2020

Favourite places to drink

This isn't going to be what you might expect. Because it's not just about where. It's also about when.

My absolute favourite place ever to drink was 1980s Prague. In the communist days. There are several reasons why it was my favourite.

Number one, obviously, was the beer. I've never been anywhere with such overall high quality of beer a s Czechoslovakia. Everywhere else I've been, there's been a mixture of good, indifferent and bad beer. In 1980s Czechoslvakia that wasn't the case. All the beer was at least reasonably good. And some of it was amazingly good.

I got off to a good start. On my first visit to Prague, my train arrived at around 7 AM. Which gave me enough time to check into my hotel and get to U Fleků for opening time. Back then it wasn't the tourist trap it is today. The beer was amazing, dark and rich. And I'm pretty sure at the time it was 14º rather than 13º.

I can still remember my first taste of Pilsner Urquell. One sip changed my ideas about pale Lager forever. Light, crisp, malty and topped off with a wonderful dose of Saaz bitterness. I understood immediately why one beer had changed the world.

But Prague wasn't all about pale Lager. There were some pretty good dark beer, too. Not just at  U Fleků. U Malvaze, a tiny pub close to Charles Bridge served the magnificent Braník 12% dark. One of my all time favourite dark Lagers. Sadly no more. Disappeared, along the the brewery,

U Supa sold another wonderful Braník beer, the 14º pale Lager. Another cracker. And another lost beer.

For those into something more mainstream, U Medvídků sold Budweiser 12º. A famous beer, but deservedly so. Maybe not quite reaching the heights of Pilsner Urquell, but a damned good beer.

The pubs were cool, too. Often pretty basic, but joyful and welcoming. And, even in the city centre, full of locals, not damned tourists.

I'm so glad that I visited several times. Because it's all now disappeared. Or almost. Hostinec U Rotundy is pretty much unchanged. One last reminder of a lost city. Damn you, capitalism.

1 comment:

A Brew Rat said...

Great stuff. I visited Prague and Plzen in 2002, a month after the floods. Drinking U Fleku dark lager with a shot of Becherovka, and a plate of stinky cheese - heaven on earth.

The Pilsner Urquell was amazing in Prague, but in Plzen - the freshness was amazing.

I really liked Staropramen as well. And Budvar!