Tag Archives: Czech Republic

Prague Day Trips: Beroun, Olomouc, and…Dublin (Czech Republic and Ireland)



“Find the hole in the fence at the Beroun train station, go through it and then cross the scrap yard…”

These are the instructions I was given to find Pivovar Berounský medvěd, a brewpub a bit outside of Prague. I had concerns. I envisioned myself getting arrested and trying to explain that I was looking for beer. And then making the call from jail… the fantasy got a little crazy.


But it need not. Of all the many train-stop pub visits I made outside of Prague, this was one of two that I would recommend. My favorite beer here is a smashing session beer called “Cyclopivo” meant for cyclists passing though. Apparently not everyone climbs through the fence off the train.

Get back on that same train heading away from Prague to arrive at Olomouc (pronounced ola-moosh) for some more fantastic beers and delicious food at Svatováclavský Pivovar. Although we didn’t try it, it also has a beer spa and a hotel. Everything you need in one place!


Olomuoc is a charming town in a way that I had expected Prague to be. Public sculptures (I like to call the one below “Asparagus on Turtle”) and several museums dot the brief walk to the brewery from the train station. I could have happily stayed for the rest of the week.


The best brewpub in Olomuoc is tricky to find because the entrance is inside an office building, but once inside you’ll see this door:


Not only were the beers well made and tasty- particularly the tmavé pivo and the wit-like nabidky- but the meal was the second best of the trip. They smoke in-house, and the smoked platter had three distinct smoked meats. Each one alone would have made the journey worth it. Together we were knocked out! I had tongue with dumplings and horseradish- so good it left my chef-companion dreaming up recipes for his pub.


And the other day trip from Prague? I lucked into a 30 hour layover in Dublin thanks to Aer Lingus’ odd connections from Boston. I lined up my craft beer ducks, and got as much in as I could with the help of local Liam O’Hara and my dear Irish/Boston pal Bronagh. We made three stops.

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The first (after some bottled craft stout at Liam’s by 8 Degrees and Dungarvan) was Bull & Castle, which has separate rooms for eating and drinking. The upstairs “beer area” overlooks Christ Church- great for a first time visitor like me. They also offered 8 Degrees, on cask! And a fine IPA from Trouble Brewing of Kildare.

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The next stop was for food, but I was thrilled to see Spanish craft beer Estrella Damm offered at Fade St. Social. It’s the perfect delicate yet spicy beer to accompany the funky menu of fried chicken popcorn, truffled duck mousse, and shaved octopus. And crab toasties. And… we ate a lot.

The final stop was P Mac’s, where we finished with Trouble Brewing’s Dark Arts Porter. I would make every stop again- it was the perfect Dublin layover. Try it the next time you go to Prague!

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Beer Bath (Czech Republic)


Is it wise to put a photo of oneself in a tub, with a beer, on the Internet?

Probably not. But this is no ordinary tub- this is a beer spa!

And it’s important to see what is not in this picture: no neon, no logos, nothing loud or tacky. Just a cave, a simple tub, and a beer.


Welcome to Chodovar (pronounced hoe-da-var, as far as I can tell) – a beer wellness center about two hours southeast of Prague close to the German border. Or, as they call it, “Your Beer Wellness Land.” It is made up of the brewery, a hotel (Hotel U Sládka), a restaurant (Ve Skále), and the spa (pravé Pivní lázně).


I’m not really a spa person. My company sends me to nice hotels- I always use the “spa” time looking for craft beer. But compared to standing in endless beer fest lines, (even if they are in Osaka, Rome, or Brussels) or trekking hours into the woods on dirt roads to obtain rare beers, this is a TRUE beer experience.


Here’s how it works. Take a train from Prague, where you’ve already got an inexpensive apartment to use as a home base. (See forthcoming post.) Change trains in Plzen and enjoy the tank-quality Pilsner (Gambrinus 10) while waiting 30 minutes for another train to Chadová. Walk a half mile to the Land.


Check into the hotel. Five minutes before your reserved spa time (you may also reserve massage, foot treatment, facial, and other more hands-on-you events) return to the reception desk where they wave you down some stairs. You will face a door covered in carved hops- it’s locked. Ring the bell.


A uniformed no-nonsense woman greets you in Czech. She does not speak English, so just do what she points to. The first thing is a cubbie with shoes; add yours to it. The next is a changing room- take the sheet she hands you and enter. Inside is a locker- remove everything, but keep your iPhone for pictures if so inclined. Take the key with you, too.

She will motion for you to follow her.  You will be handed a freshly poured beer as you turn the corner. Stop in front of a tub topped with what looks like crauzen. No time to wonder- drop the cover on the chair and get in!


Aaaahhhhhh. There is a place to set the beer, brewed fresh right there, within reach. Splash around a bit to enjoy the novelty, sink down, and relax.

The bath is made up of warm mineral water (also bottled there) and a magic mixture of dark beer, hops, yeast- and secrets. It feels amazing. The beer addition comes out of its own faucet.


Close your eyes. Interrupt your warmth only to sip your beer and experience the contrasting sensation of the cold liquid going down.

Then- just as the water is about to have chilled a degree too much and your beer is gone, stern spa lady comes back. She holds up a giant white sheet, which somehow you know to get out of the tub and back in to. She leads you to another dark part of the cave- to a lounge chair lined with a towel. Sit back as she wraps the towel around you and your sheet and points to your next beer. You’ll be warm- you will doze.

Ten minutes later you feel the pleasant sensation of melting, and reach for the beer.

Magic. A few hours later, in the attached restaurant in a cave, order the yeast beer only available there and pulled directly from the lagering tanks. Marvel at how soft your skin is.


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