Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Czech Living - Jedno Pivo, Dvě Piva, Pět Piv

Today we are starting a new section, Czech living, where I am going to talk about my own observations of life in the Czech Republic. And what better way to start such a topic, than by talking about the Czech favourite and most famous product: beer. And of course, if it's beer, then it's pub talk, so let's see some phrases as well, in Czech.

Beer comes in all shapes, sizes and colors in the Czech Republic, but especially it comes in big pint glasses, it's "velké pivo", large beer. If you're not a real man but a winny, you'll have to specifically ask for "malé pivo", a small beer, else you'll get the pint which is a norm here. But be careful, with a half measure in front of you, people will give you strange looks. Czech girls will for sure feel less attracted.

Czechs are some of the biggest producers and consumers of beer in the world, and they have some of the cheapest and best beers available. (Around 1.17 euros for a pint)So you don't even have to ask "kolik to stojí" how much does it cost, but you should rather say "Jedno pivo, prosím" A beer please.

Czechs have a really strong bar culture, as demonstrated by the local heroe, the good soldier Švejk. They enjoy going out with friends in hospoda, bar/restaurants where they food is designed to match the favorite drink, beer. They even have wedding parties in bars. The food is for another story, just keep in mind this when going to a restaurant here: gulaš. Ok, you'll say this is Hungarian, maybe. Some Czechs will agree with you, but the truth remains, this is what will usually accompany a beer here. (And don't tell Czechs about it not being their invention, please, the local variant is a bit different from the rest and they might not take well to such news).

Everyone drinks beer. Pretty, delicate girls and chubby, beer-bellied guys, they all have a pint in front at all times while chatting away with friends. And when they finish it, the waiter will hurry up to bring a fresh one. They way to serve the beer may also seem peculiar to us, Romanians at least: a big collar of foam is a must in every glass. Beer has been an important part of Czech economical and social life, since the 12th century, when the first towns obtained a license to brew. Wars have been fought over it and any Czech you meet will be quick to tell you how much they love their drink and how lager beer is derived from Pilsner beer, a standard based on Czech hop and Czech brewing methods.

Fact: The Czech Republic has the largest beer consumption per capita. For a country with a population of 10 million, that's not peanuts. The most famous beers are of course Pilsner and Budvar, well Budweiser for you yanks (Everyone say: "Co se děje?", What's up?) But there are other very good ones. Basically every important town in Bohemia and some Moravian ones, have a beer of their own: Staropramen and Braník in Prague, Krušovice in Rakovník, Velké Popovický, East of Prague, Starobrno, from Brno.

There are so many types of beers here that you can't get tired of them, nor can you try them all out in a year, even if you drink a different brand every day. This is an urban legend but it's true that the diversity of beers here is quite impressive, 470 brands (says so here). From the very light colored, or golden "Světly" to "Černé", the very dark one, you have all the rainbow of beers. One interesting fact is that every bar, restaurant, and so on is specialized in one or two brands of beer only.

Bar etiquette is simple here. Beer. And food. And a good chat. Mix and repeat. They are proud of their beer. Other types of beer, like Belgian Krieks, or mixes such as the Monaco are not well looked upon, so don't try that if you want to be respectful and not cause a stir. For one of the most atheistic countries of Europe, the Czech Republic's religion is the Beer, with the god of beer being Gambrinus (the name of another famous Pilsner brew).

These gates are famous: the gates of the Pilsner Urquell Brewery, the original source of the golden beer, in Plzen. Countless of trucks of beer have passed these gates since the late XIXth century when the brewer started exporting to France, Germany, Austria and even as far away as the United States. It is said that after the Prohibition, Pilsner sent many barrels of beer over the Ocean, as a gift.

My personal favorite is of course the dark beer, with a taste of burnt sugar, best served cold with some honey coated ribs and garlic bread, another local specialty.

Before I go, just remember that the best way to drink a beer is to follow it with another, with friends : Jedno Pivo, Dvě Piva, Pět Piv (One beer, Two beers, Five beers). And when you've finished your glass, just ask for a refill: Ještě jednou, prosím.


  1. Vad ca ai decis sa incepi cu buna noastra prietena comuna... Laudabil...

  2. Incerc sa o conving sa ma viziteze, mai ales daca vede ca sunt si alte surate de-ale ei pe aici...

  3. Oooh, this is really helpful!!! :-)) The fun I'll have hahahaha

  4. Thanks for these good tips, I really need them! :-)


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