Probably the first thing you should know about the Prague Beer Museum: it’s not an actual museum, or at least not in the traditional sense. The casual beer snob may pass over this place as soon as they learn this, but that would definitely be a mistake.
Sitting down inside the original location (they now have a Prague Beer Museum in the city’s old town), the best place to cozy up is at the bar. Not only is it the place with the best view of the 30 mostly local and all Czech beer taps — it’s the service that you’ll get that helps make this place even that much more special. Getting on friendly terms with my tapist, I asked, “Everything you have is Czech?”. “Yes”. “So you only have the best beer in the world?” Failing to conceal his smirk, he replied with a simple “probably”. And from there it began, my delicious demise into the offerings of the best beer accumulation in Prague.
Taking in the full display of beers is certainly something to admire. Sure, Stateside, you could go to some pubs and find many more taps, but at a place like the Prague Beer Museum, you really can’t go wrong. At least that’s the assumption. Each stool at the bar has in front of it a book. It describing the brews and the brewmasters that have created them as well as a few recommended flights to try out. Seeing as I had an early morning train out the next day, I figured a flight plus a pint of my favorite would do the job nicely. I dove in head first, looking for the most pure sample of flavor in beers from the Czech Republic, I went with the “Unfiltered = More Flavor” list that included a variety of styles. Those represented were Malesov IPA, Rychtar Natur (Pale Lager), Uneticke 12° (Light lager), Matuska’s Raptor IPA, and lastly Cornel’s Red Ale. At around the equivalent of $5 USD, and very generous pours, this was a good value to try some less common styles of Czech brewing.
All of the above beers, from left to right. As per usual, I couldn’t wait to dive in and the photo was after the first taste.
Malesov, was the first Czech IPA I’d ever sipped and I would say that like many Central European emulations of the style, it wasn’t super hoppy and had a fair share of maltiness to it as well. That wasn’t to say that it wasn’t flavorful. There was actual a bit of a sour note on the finish which was really nice to find hiding in there. I definitely enjoyed this beer although I wouldn’t call it an absolute stand out. A job very well done none the less!
Next came the Rychtar Natur, a Czech unfiltered Pale Lager. After all of the Czech pilsner and lagers I had been drinking on my way through Prague, this beer was especially refreshing. It combined a lot of the traditional notes of malt and bitter and topped it off with a creamy taste. An exciting beer definitely living up to the “bold” description of the flight.
As for the centerpiece, this was something definitely different from what I was expecting. I wasn’t sure what I was getting when the style was proclaimed this beer to be a “light lager”. When I think of what that entails in America, it makes me think of the sticky cement floor of a frat house’s garage on which a beer pong table used to stand. Maybe, we’re just given the bottom of the barrel on what should describe the style. I actually found this one to be a connoisseur beer, that almost had similar qualities to what Chardonnay wine would have to the wine drinker. Sure it was light and tame, but the flavor was still pronounced and had a very floral, almost fruity sweetness to it. Essentially, this beer surprised me by how complex the taste was, rather than how it reminded me of the crap beer we can find back home.
I’m not very good with spoilers, sorry. Number 4, Matuska’s IPA Raptor was by far my favorite beer on the slab. Look, it wasn’t just my favorite beer here at the Prague Beer Museum, but also possibly my personal favorite on this entire trip spanning 5 of Europe’s beer producing countries. Since having this brew, I’ve looked a lot more into this Pivovar Matuska brewery and why it’s so highly regarded in the Czech Republic. These guys really strive to have a taste in all of their beers that’s pure and as if it came straight from the cellar. IPA Raptor was incredible and complex in all the right ways. To say the least, it made me very happy indeed.
So Matuska was a hard act to follow, but unfortunately, unless it’s the last one on the board, someone’s got to right? Cornel’s Red Ale came up next and it was a nice refreshing finish to the end of the flight. I’m not as much of a fan of the red ale style (sorry Ireland) so for my personal tastes, this one was always going to have a disadvantage. I can say that Cornel did a great job with this beer, which can be tough to do when you’re trying to imitate a style of brewing from another country. Although the ingredients are similar, they are not the exact same as tradition asks for.
Of course, these opinions are just that of a humble beer taster. If you’re guessing which of the beers I ordered as my final send-off pint, you need to go back and pay a little closer attention.
The Prague Beer Museum may not be a museum in the traditional sense, but if I’d put it in comparison to what we look for at museums you’ll see where the name comes from. The beers here are local masterpieces, some brewed with recipes stretching back hundreds and hundreds of years, while others are crafted kicks designed last week. Something to say about Czech beer: both tradition and innovation are encouraged. It’s really exciting to see the brewers here reaching beyond the legacy beers of Pilsner Urquell and Budweiser Budvar (however good they may be) and creating fresh flavors from the same ingredients. I can’t wait to go back to Prague and when I do, I’ll be sure to give another stop to the Prague Beer Museum.
Na zdraví! (Cheers in Czech)