Jedno privo, prosim. One beer, please.
Roughly 100km northeast from the birthplace of the pilsner, Prague is home to beer that is literally cheaper than water. And it’s good beer, too.
The Czech Republic consumes near 192 liters per capita every year. That’s nearly double the next closest nation, Austria (107 liters per capita), and far more than the US (73 liters per capita.) The Czech people love their beer.
You’ll find a fairly liberal atmosphere surrounding the drinking culture here. It’s not unheard of to order one or two small beers with your lunch and knock a few more back after dinner, and it doesn’t stop there – the nightlife is never ending. I stayed in an incredible hotel a stone’s throw from the Charles Bridge, but it was right beside a night club and across the street from another bar. There was partying and commotion all the way until sunrise.
Though the tap water is safe to drink in this central European country, don’t expect it to automatically come with your meal. We found a carafe or .3L bottle of water to be around 40Kč or $2 USD. Being one of the most walkable cities that I have ever been to, it’s a good idea to stay hydrated while exploring.
After visiting the Prague Castle and Petřín hill, we passed by U krále Brabantského – the oldest tavern in the city. It has an awesome, medieval aesthetic inside and offers shows on certain nights (we didn’t get to see.) Now my mom definitely isn’t a beer drinker, but we ordered a couple and she enjoyed them just as much as I did. One of the things that may shock you is the large head of foam on top of the drink. You’re still getting the .5L of beer, but the foam provides a different taste and a little complexity.
There’s even a pour called the mlíko that’s basically all foam, meant to be drank all at once for a sweet, dessert-style drink. I never had one, but I’ve seen sources say you get it for half-price.
Near our hotel was a long, indoor passage, called a pasáž, which is essentially a small mall. It’s a great way to get around the city. You get to avoid any inclement weather and pick up a sweet beer stein souvenir. Some of the bigger ones, like Lucerna pasáž, have pubs inside where you can pick up a .5L for 35-38Kč (~$1.75USD.) That’s more to drink for a lower price than water. All around Old Town Square, you’ll see green Pilsner Urquell awnings. It’s the most popular beer in the country and quite delicious. It’s nice to stop to people watch for a drink and continue on.
In the past decade, some public officials have attempted to enforce regulations that will make pubs sell a non-alcoholic beverage at a cheaper price than beer. This is been in an effort to curb underage drinking and the negative effects thereof. Business owners and the public have fought back and, at least during my first visit in 2017, have been doing quite well.
Make sure to add one of my favorite cities in the world to your travel bucket list and enjoy the beer. Na zdraví.