Do you like beer?
There is a place in Europe where making and enjoying beer is built into the very fabric of life. Where rich brewing traditions date back almost a thousand years and are stronger than ever today.
If you happen to be in Europe, and love beer, then make sure to visit the Czech Republic, to whom the whole world needs to thank for lager.
Beer Drinkers Haven
Beer to the Czech Republic is what wine is to France. The first brewery started way back in the year 1118, though monks were brewing beer in monasteries all over the country well before that. By the 13th century, the cities of Budweis, Pilzen and Prague where becoming exporters and growing in fame.
Today, there are breweries in almost every village and it is a treat to visit them while touring the scenic country side.
There are so many breweries in the Czech Republic that it would take a sabbatical to see them all. Budweis and Pilzen are a must. Being the giants of industry, they have brewery tours that are interesting and can accommodate the masses.
However, it’s the smaller breweries that have stayed true to their generational roots and provide the most authentic experience, as well as the best tasting beers.
Credit: Sam, W
Pilsner Urquell (Plzensky Prazdroj)
The quintessential Czech beer is without a doubt Pilsner Urquell, brewed since 1842 in the city of Pilzen. The creation of this beer revolutionized the beer making process, giving life to the lager as we know it today. Don’t miss the 90 minute tour, very informative and of course, ends with a tasting directly from the source.
Credit: Dushan and Miae
Budweiser Budvar (Budějovický)
Comparing the American Budweiser with the original Czech beer is like comparing Volkswagen to a Porsche. Brewed in the village of Ceske Budejovice (Budweis in German) since 1785, this award-winning brewery is well worth a tour and tasting.
Credit: Alex Ruiz D.
The renowned Chadovar Brewery has been making exceptional beers since 1573. The brewery is actually a large and beautiful estate, which helps make the 45 minute tour a joy and the tasting afterward a delight.
However, it’s another unusual concept that puts Chadovar over the top. Exceptional beers aside, it pioneered the idea of “Beer Wellness” and specifically the Beer Spa. Combining Czech’s two biggest passions (beer and thermal baths), the spa warms a tub full of mineral water and their famous dark beer to 93°F (34°C). You spend 20 minutes immersed in the concoction, which is quite healthy for your skin. The hardest part? Not drinking the bath water!
Each brewery typically hosts its own summer festival, however the Czech Beer Festival in Prague is the biggest and best. Lasting 17 days in May, this celebration provides a great place to sample more than 70 of the best Czech beers, as well as another 50 international brands. Pilsner Fest at the Pilsner Urquell Brewery is also recommended.
Credit: Victoria Reay
The Czech Republic has a great network of hiking trails and combining a trekking holiday to famous breweries is wonderful. Don’t miss the historic Eggenberg Brewery in Cesky Krumlov, great beer and one of the most beautiful castles in the country.
Don’t limit your beer guzzling holiday to the Czech Republic. Around the world pub tours to Germany, Belgium and Austria, all beer making powerhouses, is a wonderful experience. It’s the Czech breweries, however, that leave the greatest impression.
A fine beer may be judged with only one sip, but it’s better to be thoroughly sure. - Czech proverb
When To Go
Beer drinking in the Czech Republic is welcomed year round.
The climate is continental with four seasons. The summers are warm and humid, averaging 76°F (25°C).
Spring and Autumn are chilly (40-50°F / 5-10°C) but dry.
December, January and February often comes with snow and temperatures around 32°F(0°C), so pack warm clothes.
Getting There & Around
Fly to Prague International airport, located 9 miles (15 km) from the city center.
Take the train (Airport Express) and you will be in Prague’s main station in 35 minutes. From Prague all the cities are reachable by train or bus.
- Average accommodation: $40-60
- Meal: $5-25
- Beer: $1
- Spoil yourself with a beer bath at Chadovar, followed by a nice dinner where you can drink as much as you want because your hotel is right upstairs!
- Spend time enjoying the villages as well as the surrounding countryside, which is full of castles and beautiful national parks.
- Visit in August for the Krkonosske Pivni Slavnosti festival. Independent brewers from the Krkonose mountain region gather to offer their incredible beers in one heavenly place.
- Stop by the Tram Pub in Prague.
- Spend some time in Prague’s many beer gardens.
- Jump in a taxi and forget to check if the meter is on. If you need to use a taxi, make sure to use authorized ones.
- Go to a restaurant in the heart of Prague, unless you are willing to spend an arm and a leg on food. Prague is really expensive even by European standards.
- Change money with people on the street.
- Pilsner Urquell was the catalyst for more than two-thirds of the beer produced around the world today.
- Pilsner Urquell’s brewery can produce 120,000 bottles per hour.
- Czech’s drink more than 280 pints per year, the highest per capita beer consumption in the world.
- The Czech Republic is the home of the first Pilsner and the first Budweiser.
Feature Image Credit: Carolyn Coles