Is there beer after Prague?

Is there beer after Prague?

Can a decent brew be found outside the Czech Republic?

Is there beer after Prague?

Is there beer after Prague?

Can a decent brew be found outside the Czech Republic?

Published 26.08.2011
Last updated 07.08.2012

Though it may take awhile for some to realize, there is actually life after Prague. But—is there beer after Prague? Hard to say...

It is out there, but it all depends on where you're headed. After spending four years on the magical playgrounds of Prague, I wandered westward into Portugal and Spain, finding the sun and sand that I sought. In Lisbon, as expected, the prawns and squid leapt happily from the ocean onto my plate, and my wine cup spilleth over with the chilled, fizzy delight that is Portuguese vinho verde.

But when someone asked, 'Hey, you want a beer?' I became giddy with visions of Gambrinus dancing in my head. To my shock and horror, I found myself holding a frostbitten POINT TWO LITER glass of beer in my expectant hand. A joke, no? I'll admit that I've downed a malý from time to time when no one was looking, but this was even more embarrassing--a malý malý. I didn't know what to say or do, so I drank. I could have finished off the glass in a few seconds, but the beer seemed like it was just defrosted, and chugging it would have given me terrible brain freeze.

But forget about the unnecessarily cold temperature—the taste took me back in time to the forgettable moment when I tried my first American beer. Probably a Coors light or some such diet alcoholic nonsense. Light, watery, enough to make me run back to my bottle of Australian shiraz with open arms--until I moved to Prague, that is. And how much did I pay for this tiny little cup of beer-water? 1.20 euro, or almost CZK 30. Quite amusing when I recall the days of CZK 19 beers in Prague at the FAMU bar. Although, honestly, that wasn't the best of Czech beers.

Turns out that Portugal is too busy courting its seductive wines to pay much attention to its lonely beer industry, which consists mainly of two brands: Super Bock and Sagres. One positive I do have to mention: you can buy an entire liter bottle of these beers if you're in the mood and want to take it with you to the beach or park.

Then, during a random exploration, I discovered a miracle, the fountain of Prague youth: a pizza place in a residential suburb of Lisbon that served Budvar on draft. The Budvar sign by the door stopped me dead in my tracks, as they say. Before I even entered, I was wondering, if I moved out now of my Lisbon flat and got a flat here instead, would I still get my security deposit back? However, the .4 L (almost enough, but not quite) Budvar was served in frosted mugs, which somewhat negated the hoppy taste I was expecting. And the foam faded fast. I was paying 2 euro (about CZK 50) for the .4 L glass, but for a taste of Budvar in Portugal, I didn't mind the Old Town Square price.

Spain seems to deliver the same diluted taste in beer, for an even higher cost than Portugal. However, in Madrid, if you're looking for quantity over quality, you can pop into a popular chain called Cerveceria 100 Montaditos, and, by ordering a little baguette sandwich for 1 euro (think mini version of a Bageterie Boulevard sandwich with gourmet tapas fillings), you get a .5 L beer for just one more euro. Not such a bad deal for Spain, especially in an expensive city like Madrid.

In Spain, you'll also notice the bartender allowing the beer to intentionally overflow the mug, which is apparently the local custom, but you also get served a wet glass each time. And, like in Portugal, you won't get a coaster—something that always gives me a tiny anxiety attack each time I receive my bare-bottomed beer.

Based on my travel experiences for now, western European beers--as well as North and South American beers--have a hard time competing with my memories of Czech beers. And even when you do find Czech beer outside of the Czech Republic, it's often produced by a local brewery and just won't be the same. Granted, there are excellent microbrews that I've stumbled across, but these are rare, and sometimes expensive, experiences.

I've found that sticking to the local specialties—vinho verde or porto in Portugal, red wine and sangria in Spain—is usually the best strategy. Asking the locals for beer recommendations makes sense too, but just don't get your hopes up—they're used to their national brew and will often have only good things to say about it.

If you're hunting for Czech beer as you travel outside of the Czech Republic, you're essentially committing that tourist faux pas of carrying your home with you. In the end, I've realized I must enjoy the local beer for what it is. There's not much point in comparing beers as I travel--I've reserved a pedestal for my Czech beer memories to sit upon, and they don't seem to be going anywhere anytime soon.

So - have you found a good brew outside of the Czech Republic? Is there beer after Prague?

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J.H.(Guest) Published: 12:32:50 27.10.2013
I think I get your point, maybe there are many good beers, german, belgium, british, but outside of CZ I cannot visit first pub most likely in 50 m distance and get probably very good well treated cheap beer.
Andy(Guest) Published: 02:43:36 22.10.2013
it was so unexpected what prague did to me. after london, paris and vienna i thought i had fallen in love with all three cities. when i reached prague i was immediately transported to a place where i had to fall in love with prague. especially the old town and vtlava. And then i discovered the real Budvar and also Urquell. Life has not been the same after that and im waiting to return to prague and Dlouha.
RYZ(Guest) Published: 10:50:27 16.09.2011
Plenty of other beers can compete on a taste level but it's value for money where CZ beers really shine.
totisviribus(Guest) Published: 07:17:57 11.09.2011
Does anyone here know of any Czech craft breweries, or traditional breweries that are putting out some innovative brews? (eg, England is putting out some amazing UK/US hybrid style double IPAs.) The Czech focus with good but boring lager, lager, lager will change. I just hope it's started! Any intel out there?
C.Crawford(Guest) Published: 11:46:19 08.09.2011
yeah, let me just drink pish and get a hangover. If I want to seek out the best beer(Czech) when I'm outside the country I shall do so...and wake as fresh as a daisy the next day. Who are you trying to educate my man?
Manos(Guest) Published: 02:40:30 06.09.2011
Guys guys guys... We all have our favourites and we all different. Yet you must understand that in Czech Republic people DRINK beer. Its not enjoying a nice bottle of wine in a nice reastaurant with some gourmet specialitte. Czech beer can be consumed with good company during a football match and alone sitting on an empty bar thinking about your future or for the one that got away. It is so refreshing that You can drink it with -20 degrees while on a break from skiing or by the pool with 45 degrees heat. But the most important thing about Czech beer is that it is designed from people who love to drink it for themselves and people like themselves. It is the ultimate combination and quality and quantity. I am Beerdrinker among beerdrinkers when I am in Czech republic, and I feel home...
David Haslam(Guest) Published: 11:16:32 02.09.2011
Glad to see so many comments praising English ale. As and ex-member of CAMRA I take special interest in the brews I have encountered on my travels. I would recommend some of the Latvian beers especially the non-pasturised. Czech seems to be in the same situation as the UK back in the 70s with predominately mass produced, dead, fizzy yellow water (would not touch a glass of Gambrinus with a barge pole!) but with some good hunting I have found various fantastic non-pasturised/kvasnovice beers here ie: Bernard, Svijany, Vimperk, Dudak and a multitude of small breweries. I have high hopes of Czech starting to deserve its reputation for good beer.
Mike(Guest) Published: 11:10:31 02.09.2011
Great article Suchi! I think a lot of the commentors are kind of missing the point. Of COURSE there are good beers in other places around the world; no one is saying there aren't. This article was a lighthearted and fun way for the author to point out that she's missing the beer of her one-time hometown. It is a personal memoir of her experience "after Prague." And for her, the Portuguese beer doesn't live up to Czech beer. That's all people. It's not an indictment of all the world's beer. It is well written travel-style article and has some great imagery in it. To all of you who are taking it so literally I suggest you go get yourself a beer--and relax.
Kurt Brabec(Guest) Published: 03:47:45 02.09.2011
Well this is a Euro-centric forum, so I will forgive the ignorance of the American beer scene. ;) Why is America the best beer scene? Not because of flag-waving, patriotic bullsh!t, no. It is because America looks to and admires whatever the best is in the world. And the Americans copy it. And they improve on it. Flattery at it's best: Americans want everything the world has, and they want it awesome! Just tonight at one brewpub I had a Bavarian hefeweizen, a rye bock, a saison, a Belgian wit, and a US style IPA hopbomb. All brewed on premise. Plus the guest list had excellent German and Belgian examples, but why drink an old import when the fresh stuff is so good? I say there is a beer out there for almost anyone. If you don't like Pilsner, there are a multitude of other styles, flavors, and strengths out there. So yes, this was a silly article. But let's allow it to remind us that we are living in lucky times: the varieties and appreciation of beer are very high indeed!
Max(Guest) Published: 04:40:23 01.09.2011
Would have to agree with Jim...You get some fantastic beer in the UK. You can also get some fantastic lagers in the UK as well. Over the last 15 years a whole new bunch of UK micro-breweries have started up with the aim of producing top quality lagers, bitters and example being the Rebellion Brewery in Marlow. I won't say these premium UK lagers are better than the CZ lagers and I won't say they are worse. They are very similar in quality...but the CZ lagers are a lot cheaper to that wins some points. Generally though..when in Prague I drink Czech bier and when in the UK I drink bitter....It gives me the best of both worlds.
TaleOfAle(Guest) Published: 10:39:21 01.09.2011
I am almost lost for words after reading this. VelkyAl says it best in his response. I will just mention that even in Ireland, a tiny country (4.5m) even compared to the Czech republic, we produce some brilliant beer and it's not Guinness!
John(Guest) Published: 07:39:02 31.08.2011
Has to be one of the silliest article I have seen on this site. Is there beer after the Czech Republic? Yes, lots of it! And most of it is far better! After years here, I am still perplexed by this perception that the Czech Republic is this magical land for beer connoisseurs. Sure, the Czechs brew a nice Pilsner, but that is about it. The Czechs are good at one type of beer (good, not great), but outside a few craft brewers here, they lack any real imagination to come up with anything else. There are hundreds of types of beer out there; doesn't everyone get sick of drinking basically the same thing all the time? It is like going to a different restaurant everyday, but always ordering the same meal. Is there beer after CZ? Yes, Germany & Belgium both do it, and better; CZ is not even in the same league as them. The Italian, Spanish & French all brew some good beers. Even the U.S., outside the major brewers (e.g. Budweiser, Miller, etc.) has some excellent beers (also probably better on the whole than what you can find here). So, let go of this fantasy that CZ is full of the world's greatest beers and no other country can live up to their standards. Yes, its good, but only that. It lacks any imagination and grows tired very quick.
Velky Al(Guest) Published: 02:57:06 31.08.2011
A response:
JD(Guest) Published: 10:07:18 31.08.2011
Very poor article.. If you go to another country and want to experience their local products and culture, try to understand why things are the way they are, and not just bash it. And how can you write an article about beer and not try British, Belgium or German beer?
Pivn Filosof(Guest) Published: 08:15:25 31.08.2011
Of course there is, just go to any of the specialised shops here to see the richness and variety of beer from other countries, or visit pubs like Zly Časy or Zubat Pes to see how good some of them can be on tap. There's good beer everywhere, it's just a matter of knowing what you are looking for. And no, the best beer in the world doesn't exist. Well, it does, it's the first one I'll drink today, whatever it's name will be.
Alan(Guest) Published: 02:33:37 30.08.2011
Belgian beer is the best in the world. Czech beer does not even come close!
Ben(Guest) Published: 10:48:58 30.08.2011
Bavaria! Muenchner Helles - Augustiner etc, not to mention Edelstoff, Tegernseer Hell and Spezial, then all the wonderful Weiss biers - Schneider 1-7, Franziscaner, the dunkels, the alts ... as for the UK beer comment - agreed that there are many nice ales, but not all 'lager' is actually lager - many, many varieties and differences. not that you can often find them in the UK ...
teleride(Guest) Published: 09:09:54 30.08.2011
a sophmoric article with an idiotic premise. in other words, classic prague post.
Nuno(Guest) Published: 09:22:58 29.08.2011
As a Portuguese I have to admit that Portuguese beer is no match to Czech beer and worst, it will give you a hell of a hangover. Answering your question, and as mention already, Belgium beers are the obvious choice specially the Trappist. Los v Oslu ( ) in Perunova street has a great offer with good prices, average 80-90 czk ( 3,5 eur), other places offering Belgium beer usually charge 2x more. And by the way, if you enjoyed Portuguese wine so much, you must check out , a only Portuguese wine bar and store that recently open next to Invalidovna metro station.
Ricardo Alves(Guest) Published: 08:32:04 29.08.2011
Being portuguese and loving beer, this article makes me laugh... and not for the best reasons. Did you ever think about the reasons we drink (prefer) 0.2l beers...? Or maybe the reason why is stupid to talk about "Czech Beer" when almost all the big breweries are today in the hands of internacional companies...? Taste and image are decided according to the target market and changeable from season to season. "Czech" beer is good, yes - even great - based on the huge ammount of different brands - therefore formulas / specificity. It's not that Portugal / Spain or Congo can't produce "good beer", it's because people, back there... have different tastes. What's good / bad beer? Do you really think that we could serve and enjoy a 0.5l glass of beer, not frozen, with an average temperature of 30C/35C? Or maybe the also wonderful Belgium warm beer should be also tried on the beach. Please: see things in context. Cheers.
Jim(Guest) Published: 04:58:30 29.08.2011
Czech lager - best in the world. Best beer, though, is from the UK. Proper ale beats lager for flavour and depth of taste.
New Here(Guest) Published: 01:35:41 29.08.2011
Beating a dead dog here: but there are good beers in Germany...
Nelly(Guest) Published: 01:32:21 29.08.2011
Brugges is the place for great beers (dare i say many better than Czech beers) .. Straffe Hendrick (strong henry) is still brewed in a small brewery in Brugges itself .. gorgeous beer in all its forms ... also they have a bar that serves (wait for it .....) 400 different beers (each has its own glass design) .. from Bush to Quack (who's glass design is the best) ...
Charlie(Guest) Published: 01:16:41 29.08.2011
Yes. England. English lager is AWFUL but you can't beat a decent pint of bitter. No where else makes beer quite like that. Lager Beer in Czech Republic is amazing though, i never drank lager before i moved here.
Stephen(Guest) Published: 12:46:17 29.08.2011
Yeah, in Plzen, where it's FAR nicer than Prague. ;o)
Raul Huber(Guest) Published: 12:27:44 29.08.2011
well, i guess not. I wasnt much of a beer drinker before i have relocated to CZ. Actually, you can count the days i had beer in one year on the fingers of one hand. Never the less, wen i've arrived in CZ, well, i couldn't believe what was happening. I enjoy beer almost every day. Of course, 1 or 2, maximum, but still, i never thought i will be a beer drinker. So, beer after Prague? less likely...
Hans(Guest) Published: 12:04:27 29.08.2011
I completely agree with Jason. Go for the Trappist!
Jason(Guest) Published: 10:16:11 29.08.2011
I think Belgium is a quite obvious choice.