Hands up who's been mugged? Well one September night back in 2000, I left the famous Music Club in Prague in the wee hours to go back to my hostel. I never made it; instead waking up the next afternoon in a jail cell.
No, I hadn't committed murder. Yes, I was mugged. I still had my kidneys, but not my wallet and other belongings. I guess the cops found me passed out in the street, because I woke up with a cracking, concussion-induced headache. But I digress.
This time around, I thought I'd try as many dark beers whilst in the country. Some say Czech beer is the best, with the likes of Budvar, Pilsner Urquell and Staropramen prominent in other countries. These pilsner-cum-lagers are tasty, but I was in the mood for darkness!
This is by no means an exhaustive list, but here are my favourites from my one week stay.
1. Pardubicky Porter, Pardubice, 8.0%
What an outstanding drop! I liked it so much I went back to the supermarket for more. I've really discovered my passion for porters this year and this one may be the best yet. I wish we visited the town of Pardubice to see what other beers they have.
2. Balbin Post-Election Dark 14°, Prague, 6.0%
Served on tap at the U Balbinu restaurant, this micro-brew came a very close second. A traditional dark beer with intense character, I had two pints that left me feeling great! Not sure where the name comes from, but try it the next time you're in Prague.
3. Budweiser Budvar Tmavy Lezak, Ceske Budejovice, 4.7%
The original Budvar is a nice drop, but I first discovered the dark version on tap in Budapest. I liked it then, so I gladly drank more here. Ceske Budejovice is in the south of the country and it sounds like a great place to visit, with the little town of Cesky Krumlov a short bus ride away. I had intended to go there in 2000, but the mugging meant I had to wait it out in my hostel for funds to come in.
4. Master Tmavy Lezak, Plzen, 7.0%
Plzen is close to Prague where the famous Pilsner Urquell hails from. I must say the non-pasteurised one on tap was amazing! Back to dark beer, Master was a good brew that I'd like to try more of. There are so many beers coming from Plzen, so they must be doing something right.
This tiny micro-brewery is gruff and close to the old town. I couldn't resist trying their X-Beer 33, with an alcohol content akin to my beloved Belgian beers. I have to mention it just for the sheer power it projects, but it was too sweet for me. One 33 cL glass was enough, but the place is worth a visit for the variety of beers on tap.
The Verdict: Czech beer is very good, both the light and dark types. There's also champagne beer (which I didn't try) and fruit-flavoured beers (yuck!), and Brno is another town that brews its own style. Overall, I still think Belgium and Germany win out.
Do you like dark beer? What's your favourite type?
While visiting Prague we had the pleasure of staying at the beautiful Savic Hotel. This deluxe property is a member of the Great Hotels of the World Premium Collection and is located conveniently in the centre of the Old Town. Thanks to the Savic Hotel for a wonderful stay.