Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Beer After Prague - A Response

My good friend Max, aka Pivní Filosof, pointed out an article on the Prague based website, with the title "Is There Beer After Prague", wherein the writer claims that there is no good beer outside the Czech Republic. Seemingly the writer spent a few years in Prague before heading off to the sunnier climes of the Iberian peninsula and started to have longings for Gambrinus. The article is hilarious, so painfully bad that I hope the guys at Expats didn't actually stump up good money for it. Its premise is ludicrous and the writer's comments on American beer utterly devoid of knowledge of anything beyond the pale lagers dished up by the very same multi-national brewing companies that make, and entirely fucked up, the Gambrinus for which the writer hankers.

In describing Coors Light as "diet alcoholic nonsense" the writer simply highlights their ignorance of beer. Sure, I don't drink Coors, whether light or otherwise, but a beer that is 4.2% abv, or to put that in a Czech context, just 0.2% abv less than Pilsner Urquell and 0.1% abv more than the much missed Gambrinus, is hardly "diet alcoholic nonsense". The writer then goes on to lament that American pale lager is "light" and "watery" and makes her (I assume) want to run back to her precious wine, yet her beloved Gambrinus is some of the most watery, light piddle I have ever drunk, and from talking with friends in Prague, it has gone even further downhill of late.

Now, unless you have been living under a cyber rock, you will know that I too love and miss Czech beer (oh just one more gripe about this article - typical expat Pragocentric bollocks, all the best Czech breweries and pubs are outside the city). And while it is also true that I search, achingly at times, for an authentic Czech style lager brewed here in the US, or even a good German one, that hasn't stopped me from enjoying all the delights of the Virginian, and wider American, beer world. Let me say this loud and clear, the American brewing scene is fantastic, for the sheer range of beer styles being brewed here, there are few places that come close. Where else can I go to a brewpub and have superb examples of Vienna lager, American IPA, hefeweizen and pale lager?

As you quite likely know, I spent 10 years living in the Czech Republic, and I drank a lot of beer, I remember when Kozel was still independent and making beautiful lagers, I remember when Gambrinus didn't go in for high gravity brewing and post fermentation dilution, I remember when a beer festival like Slunce ve Skle would have been virtually impossible. However, it has been 2 years since I left and in answer to the writer's article, yes there is beer after Prague, it's just you've never got off your arse to go find it, just as many expats never get their indulgent arses out of Prague to discover the real Czech Republic.

There is no shame in missing a place, hell I miss Prague practically every day, but one thing I hope you will never read on this blog is a lamentation about how bad the beer culture is wherever I happen to find myself. I also hope that I am proactive enough to go and find the beer culture in the places I live, which is pretty much a given as my favourite way to waste a few hours is sat in the pub. This article did my head in for several reasons, other than the simpering style. Firstly, it is clear that the writer has no idea that there is more to beer than just lager. Secondly, that there is more to the Czech Republic than just Prague.

Yes Czech lager is great, and I would say the best in the world for certain styles, but it is just one bright star in a beery sky full of stars, America, Britain, Ireland, Belgium, Germany, Poland, Norway, France, Australia......the list goes on, you just have to go exploring.


  1. Excellent, really excellent post. Better than I could have said it myself and certainly more authoritative coming from someone who-s lived here for quite some time and now is an "expat" (or should I rather say, immigrant) somewhere else. Great writing.

  2. That article was worth a read for a laugh but the comments are great. I almost feel sorry for her with all the stick she is getting.

  3. Really good response. I think the author was sadly misguided or at best doesn't l know very much about the subject matter :)

  4. Velky Al - great response. I just moved to prague from the UK. Enjoying the pils but will get bored soon. Did you find any brewers across the CR doing anything innovative? cheers

  5. totisviribus,

    There are plenty of brewers doing interesting things in the Czech Republic, Kocour, Primator and Zamberk for example. Also, there are people like Kout na Sumave, Pivovarsky Dvur Zvikov and Purkmistr doing classic Czech lagers which are streets ahead of the run of the mill Gambrinus/Staropramen/Kozel lagers.


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