So, I travelled to the Czech Republic to make a non-religious beer pilgrimage. You can probably travel to pretty much any city in the Czech Republic to make a beer trip, but my choice stood between the cities Český Krumlov, Brno, Plzeň, and Karlovy Vary. I chose Plzeň (Pilsen) – the home of the Pilsner. This city is home of the, you guessed right, world-renowned Pilsner Urquell. In a minute I’ll tell you about the trip to the brewery and some other fun facts.
How to get to Plzeň
I took the train from Prague to Plzeň, it set me back 105Kč and took around 2 hours. As the Czech Republic is such a geographically central country, I saw many people coming to Plzeň in their own car, especially travellers from Germany.
What I discovered very fast was Plzeň’s lack of tourist traps which you definitely can’t miss if you travel to Prague. In Plzeň you can walk around, have a beer, and some really amazing Czech food for a good price, all this without the chance of getting ripped off. In the center of Prague it’s pretty much hit and miss with the prices and quality of the restaurants.
What to do in Plzeň
Being the birthplace of the Pilsner and the brand Pilsner Urquell, there are of course a few beer related things to do in Plzeň.
The Pilsner Urquell Brewery
Of course, no trip to Plzeň should be without taking a tour of the Pilsner Urquell brewery. It’s just a few minutes walk from the historical centre and there are tours in different languages at different times. The tour and entrance to the brewery cost 200Kč and it’s paid upon entrance to the visitor centre that is clearly signed.
The tour of the brewery takes you through the history of the company and the different brewing facilities. Pilsner Urquell was founded by Bavarian Josef Groll and has been brewed at the same location since 1842. You will see the different areas for bottling and brewing and also their cellars where the beer is stored.
The tour is quite informative and nice, but I also felt that there are people like me who actually travels to Plzeň mainly for the beer and I guess most of us would have wanted to try some more. To be fair you get a glass of the superb unfiltered Pilsner Urquell, but I still feel that something more and extra should be given for all us beer lovers. It was a good tour, viable for Europeans, but I’m not sure if I will recommend it to my friends from far far away.
The Brewery Museum & The Plzeň Historical Underground Network
Both the brewery museum and the underground network lies in the historical center of Plzeň. If you have any trouble finding it, just ask around because everyone will know where it is. The entrance fee for both of the attractions was 158Kč. I took a German tour because I couldn’t bother waiting for the next English one. They did, however, give me an audio guide in English, so I basically walked around with the few German people and the guide, but I and my audio guide were doing our own thing.
Below you can see the pictures from the brewery museum.
There were some cool things to see but although the brewery museum wasn’t mind-blowing, the underground network was pretty cool. The total length of the Plzeň historical underground is around 20km and the tour was probably a 1km walk or so and took us under the main square of the city. The construction of the tunnels started in the 14th century and the tour also includes a trip to the water tower which was built in the 16th century. I’d recommend this tour to anyone as it was very informative and contained a lot of cool historical artifacts like cannonballs and different pottery objects.
The Cathedral of St. Bartholomew
This gothic masterpiece can’t really be missed if you’re anywhere close to the centre of the city. Located in the middle of the main square this gothic beauty really is blinding. The church was founded in the late 13th century and became a cathedral in 1993.
Eat & Drink In Plzeň
U Salzmannu was the name of the first restaurant I visited and I’d say that the food was both delicious and affordable. Typical local Czech stuff.
Another favourite was Senk Na Parkanu who served similar fare but had the advantage of being one of only 2 places in the city that served the unfiltered Pilsner Urquell. This was also one of the places where you could use the beer voucher you get from the brewery museum.
Craft Beer In Plzeň
You can find some amazing beers all over Plzeň, but I’m now going to tell you about the places I liked the most.
There’s a small, yet great, place for craft beer just outside the brewery museum. The place is called Na Čepu and is very tiny but cozy. They had 4 beers on tap and quite a few more bottled local Plzeň craft beers. I really enjoyed the summer beer from the Permon brewery.
Another place I’d recommend to have a look at is the Pivovar Groll. They have one light and one dark lager that, to be honest, were not the best (the dark was nicer than the light one). They also have different seasonal beers and their food was quite good. I would still recommend Groll, the nice garden setting beside the traditional house called Lautensack House which, as you can see below, is absolutely fabulous and makes spending an hour or two there worthwhile.
Bonus – Craft Beer In Prague
For most people travelling to the Czech Republic, passing through Prague is the reality. That’s why I decided to add my few cents on a couple of craft beer places in Prague. Of course, you can find many different breweries with long traditions, but also a lot of new younger brewers are now taking over the scene from the dinosaurs.
Zlý Časy lies in the 4th district of Prague and is a splendid place to get your craft beer fix. I was there in the middle of the week and only the main floor seemed to be open (they have at least another basement floor at their disposal), it was enough, however. The place is basic and trendy, but most importantly it serves a lot of different Czech craft beers. Beers on taps from breweries like Knoblach Brau, Raven, Bad Flash, Matuška and many more.
I had read a lot of good things about this place online, but it really wasn’t to my liking, at all. It’s a restaurant that brews their own beers and they proudly boast certificates and awards on their walls.
They have 8 different beers on tap, all brewed onsite. I decided to take the option of 1dl of each beer which came totalled at 150Kč. There were a few fruity options like cherry and banana as well as some more traditional Czech-style beers.
To me it just seemed like the whole place had just been there for so many decades that it’s gonna stay there forever without changing, a recipe that for some reason didn’t end up in the disaster it should have. The atmosphere wasn’t very nice, neither was the food comparable to the food from any of the other restaurants I had during my Czech trip. Pivovarský Dům was basically a very boring place with some very boring beers.
The conclusion of my beer trip to the Czech Republic
Travelling to Plzeň would definitely be a nice experience for beer enthusiasts, in fact, the Czech Republic in general is. Being one of the big 4 when it comes to beer it’s a must for every beer lover. For people coming from far away I wouldn’t maybe recommend making a trip to only Plzeň, but include other beer cities like Prague and České Budějovice to make it a complete beer trip. Apart from the craft beer scene that has recently gained ground also in the Czech Republic, you should not forget that Czech beer has a very long history in brewing beer and awesome brews from small brewers are found everywhere.
Also, I would like to mention that none of the above restaurants and bars have endorsed me in any way. I like food, I like beer, I need both, so I can as well write about it.