Article by Tim Johnson, originally published in the Atmosphere magazine. Read the latest edition here.
185,900,000 : number of litres of beer consumed by Czechs in 2018.
993 : date at which oldest Czech brewery was founded.
Four unique and crazy ways to experience the best beer in Prague
You’ll never find a better place for a beer. Sipping more suds, per capita, than any other country on Earth, the citizens of the Czech Republic really know how to brew, and enjoy, the good stuff. And while it’s easy to pull back a glass at one of the many bars in the country’s capital, Prague offers a medley of novel ways to immerse yourself (sometimes literally) in some of the world’s best beer.
Take a Beer Bath
You’ll never be so tempted to drink your bathwater. Soak up your suds in a hot, murky mess of malt, hops, barley and beer (it’s good for your skin… really!). Perhaps the very best beer spa is at Purkmistr, a microbrewery-spa-hotel near Pilsen, as in, the birthplace of Pilsner, the Czech’s most distinctive brew.
Here, you’ll shed your robe at the instruction of a stern quasi-nurse in smocks, and sink deep in one of a series of polished-wood tubs that evoke a beer-barrel vibe. The sudsy soak is heated to a precise 37°C, with each tub carefully cordoned off from the next. The best part? The tubs come equipped with beer taps, so you can fill unlimited mugs of their own brew until the end of your immersion. So you can resist the urge to drink your bath.
Get a Beer Massage
If you’re lucky, you’ll see the monk bring over the beer. Set inside a series of buildings hidden deep within Prague’s ancient Lesser Town, the interconnected 13th-century buildings that make up the Augustine Hotel were long a monastery. And members of the Augustinian Order of Monks, who have been brewing here since 1352, still inhabit part of the complex.
Sign up for the hotel spa’s St. Thomas Beer Body Ritual, and you’ll be treated to an exfoliation using finely ground, locally grown hops, a strange, but rather invigorating, experience, the little grains boring into your back. Then stretch out for a massage with oils infused with the monks’ secret-recipe St. Thomas Beer, brought over on demand in a silver urn by a robed member of the Order.
Eat at a Beer Bistro
Beer cheese, pork neck in beer marinade, fried apples in beer dough, it’s all good. The first Prague restaurant to serve Pilsner in 1843, U Pinkasu Restaurant claims to serve the best beer in the city. Just steps from Wenceslas Square, it has certainly attracted some famous drinkers, and if you ask, its staff will deliver a fun little newspaper that recounts the many notable folks (writers, composers, singers) who have downed a cold one here.
Settle into a table in the cellar (or, in the summer, a gothic beer garden) and order off the menu of beer-infused dishes: pickled sausages, finely smoked pork leg, rib-eye steak, potato pancakes and marinated fish, all prepared with some of that legendary Czech brew.
Learn How to Tap
No matter how much you’ve partied, you probably don’t know how to properly tap a keg. But at Lokál U Bílé kuželky restaurant in Prague, master barman and former world champion bartender Lukáš Svoboda will show you how to go with the flow, taking various Czech brews and, in a hands-on lesson, demonstrating which ones require a full pour, a blend of light and dark, and how much foam, two fingers, three or, for some, even half the glass.
By the end, you’ll learn the history of the Czech national beverage, the difference between a hladinka and a mlíko pour, and how to pronounce them. Well, depending on how much you drink.
Fly to Prague and see for yourself all the different ways to enjoy beer in Czech Republic.