Pubs are about more than just beer, they are about people and memories. I am firmly convinced that a pub doesn't need to sell the trendiest beer, they can sell the most generic of generic pale lagers and still be a good pub. A couple of years ago I wrote a few posts about my favourite watering holes in Prague, among them was Zlatá Hvezda, the sports bar where my mates and I would watch the football.
The first time I darkened the door of Zlatá was the very first weekend I was in Prague, in September 1999, when Liverpool lost 3-2 to Manchester United, with a couple of gift goals from Jamie Carragher. The place was packed, the atmosphere raucous and the beer was Velkopopovický Kozel. Kozel back then was a lovely, lovely beer, back before SABMiller took over and it became somewhat bland, though the Premium Kozel is still nice enough. A few weeks later, I watched Liverpool lose to Everton, with Stevie Gerrard sent off, and Sander Westerveld getting the red card for punching Franny Jeffers and Steve Staunton replacing him in goal and pulling off a couple of decent saves. Zlatá showed practically every Liverpool match, and I went to watch practically every match for the next 10 seasons.
Zlatá was my local, very much so for the last 3 years of my time in Prague as it was a 5 minute walk from my flat. For all it's failings, the grim toilets, the spectacularly variable food and by the end of my 10 years, the Gambrinus that I was never quite sure whether it had been watered down, or the water had been beered up, I loved Zlatá. I learnt this week that last Saturday Zlatá served its last customers and that my old local is to be turned into yet another "cabaret", which is basically Prague speak for a whorehouse.
I am sure there are many who won't lament its passing into history, but I am not one of them. Many of the best nights of my decade in the Czech Republic were spent in Zlatá: Gary McAllister's last minute winner against Everton, the 2001 UEFA Cup Final, the 2005 Champions League Final. All great games that led to great nights out on the lash, especially the Champions League final.
I am fairly sure that most people connected to Zlatá don't read this blog, but anyway, I want to thank Sasha and all the staff over the 10 years that I went there for making Zlatá what it was, a dive with sometimes dire beer but always a great atmosphere and, in my experience at least, excellent service, simply a great pub. Thanks guys, it was golden!