There was a time, long ago, when having Pilsner Urquell on tap was the safest bet for a new pub/bar/café in Prague. Not anymore, it seems. A few weeks ago I told you about that little place in Malá Strana that sold Žatec, and the chat I had with the owner. I had a very similar conversation last Monday at a brand-new place in Žižkov that sells beers from Pivovar Dalešice, a brewery that you hardly ever see in the Czech capital.
I’d heard about it from a couple of friends a few days before, and since I was in the neighborhood and had some time on my hands, I decided to go check it out. U Krkouna is on a small side street in lower Žižkov, close to Husitská. It looks like a small bar, but it’s got a rather large (and quite pretty) room in the back. I perched at the bar and asked the tapster, who turned out to be the owner, which was their freshest beer. He said that all of the kegs had been tapped that day, so I went for a Dalešická 11º. It was wonderful, a sonnet of Pilsner malts recited by a Slavic belle dressed in flowers.
As I savored every molecule in my pint, the owner told me that when they were putting the pub together, they didn’t want to have any of the big brewers, and Dalešice had been recommended by a friend. He and his wife were very impressed by the beers and called the brewery almost right away to ask them if they would be interested in doing business. The person whom they spoke with asked a few questions and said they would call in an hour. Two hours had passed without anyone getting back to him, so he called again and was told by that very same person that they were already on their way to Prague to sort things out with him and his wife.
The place has been open for only two weeks and they still seem to be figuring some things out, but the beers are lovely and it’s worth stopping by there if only to have a quick pint or two.The visit to U Krkouna also reminded me of two other new places I visited recently.
I found Restaurace U Bohouše while wandering in Vinohrady. My attention was caught by a Lobkowicz sign on a corner where I seem to remember a Gambrinus hospoda used to be. The change couldn’t have been more radical. The interiors of U Bohouše reminded me a bit of Nota Bene: tasteful, modern, lacking a bit of soul, perhaps, but welcoming just the same. Though the beers are not exactly hard to find, they are a welcome sight at the kind of place that yesteryear would have offered Stella because they wanted to be modern and different.
I didn’t have a chance to talk to the owner, but the waiter was very professional and well-informed about the beers he was selling. He explained, without being patronizing, that Chlumecký Vít was a wheat beer (and a very nice wheat beer, at that). I left feeling that this little nonsmoking restaurant could be a really nice place for those who want to impress a date after a walk in Riegrový sady and have some decent beer on top of that (or for a beer-loving lass to bring her girlfriend).
The third place is perhaps the one I liked the most, if only because it is the most convenient for me. Krkonošská hospůdka is around the corner from the level crossing at Hradčanská. A nice little place with a very friendly owner. Krakonoš 12º, a beer that’s beautiful in its simplicity, is the pivo of the house and is joined by Nová Paka and two rotating taps dedicated mostly to beers from around the region that gives the pub its name. I’d say this lovely, nonsmoking hospoda is a mandatory stop if you are in the area sometime after 3 p.m.; it won’t take you long to feel as if you’ve been quenching your thirst there forever.
The beer scene in Prague has always been great, and all this diversity it’s making it even better. And it seems the wave is far from having reached its crest yet.
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