A Visit to an Authentic Czech Beer Hall – U Medvidku
We entered this large building which stems back to the 15th century, and took a seat in the corner by the window. Dozens of locals were spread out in this 550-seat restaurant which has a very cozy feel due to the vaulted ceilings. Jitka explained that this is one of the most historic restaurants and beer halls in all of Prague.
Milan welcomes us with some Czech beer
Milan, the restaurant manager, came over, and started to give us a tour of this historic establishment. We walked through another room with vaulted ceilings where an accordion player was playing a tune that sounded very much like “Roll out the barrels” that had the entire crowd singing and clapping with him. People here mostly seemed to be locals and they were definitely having a great time!
Czech beer: a source of happiness and health
We came into the microbrewery portion of the restaurant where Milan explained that the restaurant brews two types of beer on site: Old Gott, a lager beer with 5 % alcohol, and X33, a dark malty beer with a 12.6% alcohol content, according to Milan and Jitka, the strongest beer in the world. Only 800 litres of Old Gott are brewed here a month, and 250 litres of the strong X33 beer. Milan had me taste the X33 variety, and given that I don’t usually drink alcohol, I started to feel light-headed very quickly. I did though really enjoy the sweet heavy taste of this brew, and Milan added that women usually prefer the X33 beer while men indulge in the Old Gott brew.
Old Gott and X33: all brewed at U Medvidku
Then our restaurant guide Milan took us upstairs into the attic which holds a large room with impressive Gothic-era wooden truss ceilings. Milan explained that this is the cabaret room that can be rented by private groups for special events. Back downstairs we checked out U Medvidku’s store: a large refrigerator holds an extensive selection of Czech beers, according to my experts the most outstanding beers in the Czech Republic. Pilsner Urquell is, of course, famous all over the world, as is the original Budweiser beer. Other brands on display include Red Drak (the red dragon), and Kelt, a dark yeast beer with hemp.
The upstairs cabaret room with the Gothic wooden ceiling
I was also intrigued by a display of beer cosmetics. Jitka explained that beer makes a great cosmetic ingredient, and not long ago the first beer spa was opened in the Czech Republic. Apparently Czech doctors recommend drinking two beers a day to stay healthy. Jitka added that members of the Czech nation are the biggest beer drinkers in the world, ahead of the Bavarians, who are actually not a nation. Finally, she indicated the “beer is the Czech Herbalife” which made me laugh out loud. Obviously brewing and drinking beer is an essential part of the Czech national psyche.
Beer brewing equipment at U Medvidku
On our way back to our table, Milan showed me the large storage tank that holds Pilsner Urquell, one of the main staples at the U Medvidku Beer Hall. I also watched how beer is drawn from the tap in the expert Czech manner. Then it was time to order dinner and I requested Milan’s advice. He suggested that we try a few typical Czech dishes: pork tail with garlic, potato pancake and marinated cheese, with a delicious fruit dumpling for dessert.
|Marinated cheese||Pork tail & potato pancakes||Fruit dumpling|
The meal was delicious, and the marinated cheese, despite its very strong smell that reminded me of Limburger, tasted great, and I enjoyed my first foray into Czech cuisine. Milan had put two additional pints of beers on our table, and despite the fact that I normally don’t drink alcohol, I seemed to develop a bit of taste for this Czech national drink. Jitka and I had an enjoyable conversation about life in Prague and shortly before 10 pm we were ready to head home.
Prague’s Old Town Hall
Jitka took me back through the narrow, romantic streets of Prague to Wenceslas Square and headed home. I decided to take a brief walk through Old Town which looked so appealing in the warm soft glow of the night-time street lights. The streets were still teeming with life; locals and tourists were out and about, enjoying Prague on this Monday night. The night-time view of Old Town Square, anchored by the landmark buildings of the Old Town Hall and the Church of Our Lady before Tyn, was priceless. Prague definitely lives up to its reputation of being one of the most beautiful cities in the world…
Our Lady before Tyn at night