Beer history czech republic

Beer in Prague, 1958

Detail of 1958 Prague transit map.

Among the various piles of crap useful things that we hoard collect, there’s an ever-growing stack of old tourist guidebooks, including a 1958 guide to Prague, from the Czechoslovakian state tourism board. Here’s an abridged version of the section that caught our eye this weekend.

Prague Breweries and Beer-houses

And still our acquaintance with Old Prague would not be complete if we did not visit the places where the citizens of Prague used to go to quaff a tankard of foaming ale or a glass of wine. Innumerable are the beer and wine taverns in Prague. Many of them are of ancient standing. Of the old breweries (of which there were for instance in Dlouhá ulice alone no less than twelve) only two still survive. The older of these is the brewery “u Tomáše”, in the Malá Strana. Today nobody could count how many barrels of excellent black beer have been drunk here since the time of Charles IV, when the Augustinian monks brewed their first hops.


The counterpart to the St Thomas Brewery is the brewery on the New Town side of the river, “U Fleků”, of which we first hear in the 15th century. More perhaps than any other beer-house in Prague, “U Fleků” lives in Czech literature and has become immortal as the bohéme who frequented it at the turn of the century.


We must only add that in Prague there are several modern breweries, of which the largest is the Smíchov Staropramen — which takes us unto Prague of the middle of the 20th century where, in an up-to-date alchemist’s kitchen, hops and malts are converted into beer, the traditional Czech beverage.

And so, let’s raise our bedewed and froth-topped glasses and drink to this city that also provides so well for man’s material wants!

6 replies on “Beer in Prague, 1958”

If I remember well, U Tomaše wasn’t brewing anymore by 1958, I think stopped brewing in 1952, though when I moved here in 2002 the old beerhall was still working and serving a black lager (unfortunately, I never went in, the beer was quite expensive).

I vaguely recall reading somewhat that the black beer being drunk at U Tomaše after they finished brewing operations was Branik. Not sure where I read that but I am fairly sure it is true.

Speaking of beer halls, do you ever have the pleasure of Radegast, just round the corner from Tyn?

That one has closed, too, unfortunately… (though given that it was the kind of place that would charge foreigners a 40CZK surcharge for salt, then, perhaps is not that unfortunate).

I am not sure if this was still going on when you moved to Prague, but there used to be pubs that listed 2 prices, one in numbers and a second, lower, price in words for those who could read Czech. I also know plenty of pubs, probably still doing this, where if you ordered in Czech or Slovak you got the regular desitka, in any other language you got whatever was the premium beer – I wonder how many foreigners dodged the bullet of Gambrinus by being given Pilsner Urquell by unscrupulous barmen?

There are still pubs around town that will add a 10% service charge to anyone who doesn’t speak Czech and I’m sure there are still some that will put Gambrinus in a PU glass and charge accordingly (to the brand on the glass, that is).

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