The Best Beers
- Pilsner Urquell: I can hear the catcalls already. Yes, this is the biggest brewer in the country (it's a little like choosing "Budweiser" as the best American beer), but Pilsner Urquell really might be the Czechs' best. It still wins lots of national beer prizes and the signature bitter taste and smooth follow-through of its main 12-degree lager sets the standard for beers around the world.
- Budvar: Possibly my personal favorite, since I like beers to have a slightly sweet (but not too much so) taste. By the way (and no slight to the good folks in St. Louis, Missouri), this is the original "Budweiser" and hails from Ceské Budejovice (known as "Budweis" in German).
- Staropramen: Prague's home brewery would never have made this list in the old days -- the quality was too inconsistent. But "Staro" is now owned by the giant InBev group (which also owns Bass Ale and Stella Artois, among other big names) and surprisingly it's gotten better, not worse.
- Kozel: This bitter brew has long been a favorite of Prague's rowdy expat drinkers, who admire the brand's signature label depicting a goat just as much as the taste. Now Kozel is owned by the Pilsner Urquell group and has lost a little of its cachet. The standard Kozel golden lager seems to be getting harder and harder to find, but the very good Kozel dark is available at nearly all Pilsner Urquell pubs.
- Krusovice: This is another decidedly bitter brew that seems to divide beer drinkers down the middle between those who love it and those who can only tolerate it. Count me among the former. It's brewed in the middle of hop country and seems to taste all the fresher for it.
- Naturally, this list could go on and on and doesn't even begin to crack the smaller regional breweries, of which there are nearly 100 around the country. To find a good selection of hard-to-find bottles from smaller brewers, check out Galerie Piva in Malá Strana.