Given the relationship between the Czech Republic and beer, it’s of no surprise that there are many special and unusual beers, festivals and events to celebrate throughout the year. This is by no means an exhaustive list, and I will expand upon this over time, but here are a few things which deviate from the standard beer drinking experience that many will be familiar with.
You may know this as ‘Black and Tan’ or ‘half and half’, it’s a combination of dark and light beer. Depending on how it’s poured, it may be thoroughly mixed, or as two distinct layers due to the difference in density between the two beers. It’s not always on the menu, but anywhere that sells both light and dark beer on draft will serve řezané if you ask.
In a process referred to as Kräusening, fresh wort and brewing yeast are added to the finished beer, enabling an additional stage of fermentation to occur in the keg during transport and storage. This beer is produced by the Budvar brewery, and provides a massive improvement in flavour over their regular 10° or 12° lagers.
Literally translates as ‘milk’ and appears to be predominantly foam, with a little liquid beer at the bottom of the glass. Whilst Pilsner Urquell is usually served with a generous head of foam for balance of flavour, this alternative method of serving provides a beer with a richer and sweeter taste. It should be consumed in one go, otherwise the foam will begin to settle, which would defeat the point of ordering the beer this way. There are several different ways to tap Plzeň – more information can be found here (Czech language only).
Since 2006, the Starobrno brewery has been producing a special batch of beer to celebrate Easter; or more specifically, Maundy Thursday, which is the day before Good Friday. This unique 13° beer has a vibrant green colour, and is known as Zelené pivo. Stocks usually last only a few days, so if you’re in Czech Republic around Easter it’s definitely worth trying for the novelty factor!
The annual Prague beer festival is a 17-day event held in May at Letenská pláň, opposite Sparta Praha’s football stadium. I’ve never attended this festival in it’s current location, although have done previously when it was held at Výstaviště in Praha Holešovice. You can sample a wide range of beer from various breweries throughout the country, although has commercial feel like Oktoberfest in Munich, and is definitely aimed towards the tourist market. There are many smaller smaller beer festivals throughout the Czech Republic, which are well attended by locals and offer a more authentic experience. These include Pivo na Náplavce in Prague (June), Slavnosti piva in České Budějovice (June) and the Pilsner fest in Plzeň (August). Of course these festivals are not exclusive to beer; there are plenty of options for eating that include sausages and roast pork dishes, in addition to some sort of live music schedule. It’s definitely worth planning a trip to Czech Republic to coincide with one of these beer festivals.
Originally this was celebrated on 20th August, the name day for ‘Bernard’ in the Czech Republic (the 20th May in Slovakia); however from 2015, and for some reason unknown to me, the company decided to celebrate this on the 14th October. From 5pm until midnight, all Czech pubs serving Bernard beer do so for a meagre 10 Kč (in Slovakia it’s 0.40 €). This is an extremely popular event, so best get along to the pub early if you want a seat. In 2016, this will be celebrated on Wednesday 5th October. For more information check the Bernard website.