Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Horses Flying Over Brno

Brno is the Czech Republic's second largest city, with a population of 370,000. The Cathedral Church of St Peter and St Paul is featured on the Czech 10kč coin. The bus station is a grim dump. The outskirts throng with that most Czech of housing option, the panelák - pre-fabricated apartment blocks which most expats refer to as "communist" but were in fact designed in Italy. Such was the sum total of my knowledge of Brno prior to Thursday, Brno had been for 10 years a stop off point on the way to Bratislava or Vienna, never somewhere to spend some time - even though we only spent about 4 hours in the city, what I saw I liked - nice city centre and clean - so much cleaner than Prague.

We were in Brno as part of our overnight trip to Moravia to see the karst caves, one of Mrs Velkyal's long held ambitions before we leave. By the time the train pulled into the station we were hungry and ready to find a place I had heard much about. Hotel Pegas is in the centre of Brno and for years I have been hearing friends bang on about how good their beer is, so with this in mind and having been told that their beers come in 600ml glasses rather than the usual half litre (and then there is head on top of that!), it simply had to be winkled out.

The pub itself is classic central European, dark wood panelling, wooden furniture, the bar in the centre of the main room - which is the smoking area, there is a no-smoking area in one of the side rooms - hop bines drapped indiscriminately around the place and metal signs for various breweries around the place, more of which at some future point.

Rather than writing great long paragraphs about each of the beer we tried, I will simply go back to my three phrase challenge. Here goes:

  • Světlý ležák - dark gold, quite floral, hoppy bite

  • Pšeničné (wheat) - cloudy amber, citrusy, refreshingly spicy
  • Tmávé (dark) - dark ruby, cocoa, coffee

  • Gold (polotmávé - amber lager) - light red, malty, syrupy

Of the four beers my favourite by a very wide margin was the dark lager, it was simply magnificent, full of smooth coffee and chocolate flavours that reminded me of stout, which is of course never a bad thing. On the beer front there were only a couple of bum notes as far as I was concerned. Firstly when I ordered their wheat beer it came with a slice of lemon floating in it - I have no objection to people adding lemon to their wheat beer but I prefer the option of not having it, so please put it on a side plate, or ask the customer before hand. Secondly the Pegas Gold is just too sickly sweet for my tastes, almost like drinking jelly cubes.

Of course, this being lunch, food was also ordered. In my case some lovely bratwurst which came with mustard and a salsa - such a traditional central European touch don't you think? I am starting to think that I am uniquely alone in this, but please would restaurants stop trying to make pretty pictures on my plate? If I order sausages and mustard, I want sausages and mustard, not sausages, mustard, salsa and frilly bits of salad, all of which is topped with a liberal sprinkling of parsley. My main course was these lovely ribs with potato pancakes, and a new found appreciation for horseradish.

If you are lucky enough to live in Brno then make this place your regular feeding and watering hole. Otherwise make a point to visit this delightful city and enjoy the food, beer and excellent service at Hotel Pegas.


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