Ahhhhh, beautiful, fairytale Prague. Known for its gorgeous Romanesque architecture, storybook castle, charming Charles Bridge and… BEER. Lots and lots of beer. The Prague beer scene is amongst the best in the world, with beer pubs and beer gardens sitting in every corner of the city, waiting to serve you up a 1.50€ pint of Pilsner Urquell.
So, true to AWC form, I was on a mission: find out everything I possibly could about Czech beer. How? By the best method…drinking it! I chatted with bartenders and brewers around the city, over a glass of Pilsner, of course, and by golly, I learned some pretty interesting stuff!
Czech yo’ self! Ready to learn some Prague beer facts?
1. Czech Republic drinks the most beer per capita of any country.
That’s more than Germany, the USA, Ireland…and when I say more, I mean by a landslide. According to 2013- 2014 data released by Euromonitor International (and confirmed by every Czech bartender), Czechs consume 143 liters of beer per year PER PERSON. Yes, that includes children, grannies, nuns…you name it. The runner up is Germany, with a mere 110 liters per person. Now that data might’ve been released 3 years ago, but every study for the last 20 years says the same: Czechs drink a hella’ lotta’ beer.
2. They created light beer. Before them, it was all dark!
Now I don’t mean those American “low-calorie” beers (Bud Light, Miller Lite, etc), but beer that’s not dark, like those golden lagers and pilsners we love drinking in summertime. Light beer might be the standard for most countries around the globe now, but if it wasn’t for our Czech friends back in the 19th century (who were probably very cold and bored when they created it), we would not have our beloved light beer. So next time you throw back some easy-to-drink cañas with your tapas, say a “Na zdraví!” for the Czechs.
3. Pilsner beer is from the village of Pilsen (Plzeň)
OooOOoohhh, that’s why it’s called Pilsner! Created in the little village of Pilsen, Pilsner Urquell was the first Pilsner beer, with its unique and original golden color. They started producing it in 1842, and quickly became the favorite Czech beer. Fast forward to 2017: Pilsner Urquell is still the go-to beer in almost every bar. If you ask a Czech person what their favorite beer is, 99% of the time they’ll tell you “Pilsner Urquell is the best!”
4. Budweiser was actually created by the Czechs!
That’s right. Everything you’ve believed about Budweiser being an all-American beer has been A LIE. The story goes like this: the original “Budweiser” was actually created in a town called České Budějovice, which in the time was German territory, called Budweis. A German guy named Adolphus Busch (yes, as in the American brewing company Anheuser–Busch) learned the original Budweiser recipe from the original Budweiser brewer then emigrated to the USA and started a brewery. He realized the name “Budweiser” wasn’t copyrighted back home, and you guessed it…the “Budweiser” as we know it was born. However, our buddy Busch didn’t get away with it completely, as there have been ongoing lawsuits between Anheuser-Busch and the Czech Republic for over a century. Today, you can still get the original Budweiser in many Prague bars.
5. Czech people love drinking beer with their dogs.
It’s like dogs are a required accessory for Czech people. Wallet? Czech Dog? Czech If you leave the Prague Old Town and walk to the more local areas of the city, you’ll see Czechs sitting at tables, sometimes even alone, with a pint of Pilsner Urquell and their dog. You’ll even find dogs in bars, often belonging to a bartender!
6. Beer is called “pivo”. And you should never pay more than 35 crowns.
Now, for some practical info: Order “pivo” and cheers with a big ol’ “Na zdraví!” and you’ll get immediate respect from any local. Oh, and in Prague Old Town the beer is expectedly the most expensive in the country, reaching up to 95 crowns (about 3.50€). It might not seem expensive, but for Czech Republic, it IS! Even in the tourist center, you should never have to pay more than 35 crowns (about 1.50€).
Stay tuned for my next Prague blog post, “Off-the-Beaten Path Prague Food & Drinks!”