In the Czech pub: How to recognize a well-drafted beer

Czechia is known for its beer culture, but not all pubs serve perfect draught. Here are some tips to ensure you're getting the best beer experience.


Written by Ambiente Published on 21.05.2024 13:06:00 (updated on 21.05.2024) Reading time: 3 minutes

Did you know a clean glass is crucial for the perfect draught beer? According to Lukáš Svoboda, a master bartender at Lokál in Prague, a wet, cold, and well-rinsed glass is very important. After that, it’s up to the bartender’s skill and the guest’s preferences.

What does the right pour look like?

The basic style where the bartender's art is on full display is the so-called "hladinka," a large beer with foam to the rim of the glass, sipped in one go. The result is a beer at the perfect temperature, with the correct beer to creamy head ratio and a slight kick.

However, the so-called double tap is the most common way of tapping beer in Czechia. “Unfortunately, it’s not the best way,” says Svoboda. Often, you need more attempts, and the beer loses flavor, temperature, and bite. The head turns into something unidentifiable, and the beer doesn’t benefit from it,” he adds.

5 tips for spotting a bad draught beer

Bubbles on the glass. If streaks of bubbles run down the glass, it’s due to a poorly washed glass. Additionally, the foam should leave lace-like drying patterns on the inside of the glass. If it doesn’t, the glass is greasy.

Falling foam. If the foam falls off within a few minutes, something is wrong. An unwashed glass or the temperature are to blame. The glass must be at the same temperature as the beer, around 7°C.

Bubbles in the foam. Bubbles in the foam: the head should be thick and creamy. The beer is poorly poured if it breaks up and has large bubbles.

The wrong ratio of beer to foam. Learn the differences between styles. The ratio is different for a hladinka or šnyt (a small beer with rich foam), for instance.

A “short pour.” When the beer is poured, it should settle within a few minutes but shouldn't rise by more than a centimeter. If the original pour was significantly lower, that’s not right. Czech bartenders call this podmírák or "under the mark."

Have you tasted a šnyt?

A "šnyt" is a drink that the bartender tastes after tapping a new cask to check its quality. It used to be popular with regulars who would have it before leaving the pub to go home, and now it's gaining popularity again among beer connoisseurs.

Czech writer Karel Čapek wrote about the šnyt: “A beer drinker, when he does not want to drink, but only to wet himself, does not have a third, which he would be ashamed of in front of the whole world, but a šnyt.”

A "šnyt" looks like a small beer with a rich foam in a large pint. "I'll make the head a little higher, but I won't take it to the rim," Svoboda adds. And why have a šnyt? "You don't have to drink it as quickly because it has a rich, creamy head that protects the beer. It keeps it cold and beautifully fresh," he explains.

Photo: Ambiente
Photo: Ambiente

Mlíko vs. čochtan

Mlíko is a peculiar way of tapping. At first glance, the beer resembles a glass of milk because the pint is full of creamy to creamy beer foam. The charm of mlíko becomes apparent when it is drunk in one go. Surprisingly, you can smell the beer after drinking it, but it is smoother and sweeter.

"Mlíko is popular among pub goers who have it after their fourth or fifth beer instead of a shot because it wakes them up nicely," Svoboda adds. The čochtan has no foam. The bartender’s job is to fill the glass to the brim with beer only. The advantage of čochtan is that it contains 100 percent natural carbon dioxide, which makes it seem unusually full-bodied and rich.

“Not to be confused with stale beer, this beer is very fresh; it just doesn’t have a head to protect it from weathering, so it needs to be drunk quickly,” explains Svoboda. Čochtan is the most refreshing of all the ways and ideal for quenching thirst.

In the Czech Kitchen is a weekly column written in cooperation with Ambiente’s culinary experts. Established in 1995, the Prague-based collective of pubs, restaurants, and fine-dining outlets has transformed the Czech culinary landscape and led to widespread awareness of quality food service and production in Czechia. Follow their socials or book your table at

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