Sunday, December 23, 2012

Sailing on a river of pivo

So far I've discovered that there are lots of really neat things about the city of Prague. There are bars which are more like rabbit warrens. There is a place called U Sudu I have been to a few times. And there is another place called Chapeau Rouge which is supposed to be four stories underground with a dance club and some other kinds of venues all packed in there. But no matter what the bar they all have one thing in common, beer.
There is practically a bar on every block in this city. I don't just mean to say the center of the city is packed with bars and pubs and whatnot, when you get outside the city center there are still bars everywhere. Some bars are a little harder to find than others and it's hard to tell if some of them are open or not until you push on the door. In this city it is completely reasonable to have maybe five neighborhood bars you can walk to in five minutes and they all have beer.
It turns out Czechs drink more beer in a year than anyone else on the planet. Yeah, I thought it was Germany too. Turn out Germany is a fairly distant second to the Czech Republic. If you don't believe me Wikipedia has some figures here. We all know everything on Wikipedia is true.
If you go to the right bars and get the right beer you can generally have a half liter of draught beer for anywhere from 28-35kc. So, you're looking at $1.50 or so for a pint of REALLY good beer. One Albuquerque bar I worked in we charged $1 for a pint of Pabst. Any beer you can get in a bar in Prague is 100000 times better than Pabst. Also, a bottle of water in a restaurant will cost you the same, if not more, than a 1/2 liter of beer so why bother to drink water?
I think one of the reasons beer is so cheap here is that no one in this country has any idea how to pour a draught beer. There is always so much head on the beers that it gets a little frustrating. I simply do not have enough nose grease to deal with it all. I've resigned myself to simply just waiting a little while for the beer to settle.

The guy who poured this beer did a pretty good job. This is genrally how it goes though.
The other interesting thing is in most bars different brands of beer come in different glasses. This is a great idea and it makes it easier for the bartender or waitress to know what kind of beer you need filling up. 
Bars are great and all and being social is awesome, in fact I'll probably go to the Irish pub around the corner from my flat when I'm done here so I can watch the Cowboys game and pay WAY too much for beer. Beers are 65kc there, it's a ripoff, but the atmosphere is good and the staff are all really nice so it's worth it. If you really want to get good beer cheap though the grocery store is the place to go.

This festive holiday concoction was 10kc at the store. That's $.50 or so. You'll note it is imported from Germany. It wasn't particularly good, but it was still better than say Budweiser. And speaking of Budweiser.

Would you look at that, real Budweiser. Everyone here calls it Budvar. I think I bought a six pack of 1/2 liter bottles at the store for something like 79kc, so $4. This stuff is a lot better than American Budweiser and I've heard since the huge Dutch brewing conglomerate took over operations the quality of ingredients in American Budweiser has gone down. People tell me that Budweiser isn't as good as it used to be. I never really considered American Budweiser "good." 
I've heard rumors that some American person essentially stole the this name for his Budweiser. I don't know about that. I do know this Budvar is better and they have been brewing it since 1785 or something like that.
I really like dark beer and while not as popular here as I'd hoped, you can still find it pretty easily in stores. It's harder to find in bars. There are really only two kind of beers in the Czech Republic dark and light. And light beer doesn't have anything to do with calories or carbs or any of that "doesn't fill you up and won't slow you down" crap. Light beer is golden. Dark beer is dark. The dark beer is kind of like brown meets porter, it's a little maltier than a brown, but not as heavy as a porter. I like it. 

I think I paid 10kc for this at the store. I'd have to say this is my favorite dark beer so far. If you're interested Gambrinus is my favorite light beer, which is good because it's cheap. Before you ask me about Pilsner Urquell I will explain myself. It's pretty popular, but it's heavier than a lot of other beers and a touch too hoppy for me. Look at me getting all beer snob. I can usually drink three or four liters of Gambrinus without any trouble, not so with heavy Pilsner. Plus for what it is it's too expensive. There are a lot of other, better beers out there for less. If I'm at the store buying beer I skip the Pilsner.
The interesting thing about buying beer at the store is they don't really have it in bulk. From what I've seen it's mostly sold by the bottle and then maybe a six or eight pack. You can of course by a 2liter bottle of some brands though. I think the 2liters are pretty cheap, but if you complained about your 40 being all warm backwash at the end I don't think a 2liter is for you. Maybe the idea is to share it or something.
Then there are a few novelty beers. Bow your heads Simpsons fans and revel in the beer that is Duff.

This is a german beer too and it's WAY overpriced. This .33liter, or 11oz, bottle cost me 35kc. I bought it at the same time I bought four of those Krusovices for 10kc each and those are 1/2 liters. I bought it for the reason they are making it, the novelty. It's not very good and essentially a rip off. It is actually pretty difficult to find it in stores. The place you are most likely to see Duff is at street vendors down around Wenceslas Square. 
I was sadly disappointed that Duff Man did not come crashing though my wall with a bandolier of beer on when I cracked the top off this bottle. I can hear the Duff Man music now. Homer would be proud of me, but I think Homer would understand if I never buy this over-priced, lousy-tasting piss again.
I doubt you will ever see Duff Beer in the U.S. the creators of the Simpsons said they will never license the name to make actual beer because they don't want kids to want to buy it. And think about it, how much marketing would a company brewing Duff really have to do? Everyone is going to buy it at least once because Homer does it. I don't think you could call yourself an American if Duff Beer were available in the States and you had not had it at least once. Evidently the creators of The Simpsons aren't really too stoked on anyone making Duff Beer and are trying to make sure it goes away. There is a pretty interesting Wikipedia article on it here. Right now though it looks like if you're in the States and you really want a Duff you'll have to break south and hope you can find it in Mexico.
The only problem with going to the store to buy beer is my silly small European fridge. It's a little larger than the one I shared with my roommate in college. Only four of us are using this one. Luckily it's winter time and I have the perfect solution.

This fridge has the best view of any fridge I've ever seen and it's colder than the one inside. The only problem is that the light in this fridge doesn't work all the time. Well, that is about it for beer. I have about an hour before the Cowboys game, so I'm going to reach in the fridge and grab dalši pivo while I wait. 
Oh yeah, pivo is beer in Czech. Pivovar is brewery. 

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