Quick beginner’s guide to Czech beers, including the cost of beer, the different types of beer and where to get a good beer in Prague in 2024.
The Czech Republic has a long tradition of beer brewing, hop growing and beer culture. You might recognise the most popular beer brands – Pilsner Urquell, Budweiser, Staropramen as these are exported all over the world.
And since tasting Czech beer is also part of experiencing Prague, I thought it might be a good idea to put together a quick beginner’s guide to Czech beers, including the price of beer, some of the different types of beer and the best places to get good beer in Prague.
I’ve also included the most popular Czech beers which you can try in Prague, but can also easily get abroad if you want to try them before or after your visit to Prague.
There are over 500 breweries and microbreweries in Czech Republic and about 50 different breweries just in Prague alone! This is a lot of beer to sample and choose from! So, if you are not sure what beer to try or stay clear of, you can use my brother’s simple rule: Never drink a beer that has an animal’s name!
Czech beer consumption
Ever wondered, how much beer the average Czech drinks? Well, according to the statistics, we hold the world record in high beer consumption. I’m not entirely sure that that’s something to be totally proud of, but the current consumption is approximately 14.37 million hectolitres of beer a year, which means that on average, each Czech drinks more than 184 litres of beer a year.
Czech Beer prices in pubs, restaurants in prague in 2024
The times when a beer was the equivalent to 30 pence are long gone, but even with the currently higher prices, you will still often find that beer is slightly cheaper than hot drinks or soft non-alcoholic drinks and cider, wine and cocktails in pubs and restaurants.
Traditionally beer is sold in 500 ml glasses (which is just slightly less than a pint) and sometimes you can also see it being served in 300 ml glasses. To confuse matters even more, I’ve also seen prices quoted and beer sold in glasses that are 0.4 litres. This might make the prices look favourably low, so just double -check the beer glass size you are getting if the price looks too good!
The smaller glasses can be as low as 35-55 CZK and a large glass would start from 55 – 80 CZK. This is 1.40 – 2.30 Euro or £ 1.30 – £2 or $1.60 – $2.50 for a smaller glass and 2.30 – 3.30 Euro or £2- £2.90 or $2.50- $3.70for a larger glass.
If you see a beer price that’s over this, then it’s probably overpriced unless it’s a speciality beer from a small microbrewery.
I’ve seen prices as high as 150-160 CZK ( £5.70, $7.30 or 6.60 Euro) for a 0.4- 0.5 litre glass in the restaurants at the Old Town Square. Whilst this might be just over £5, which for most English people would be an acceptable cost per pint, let me mention that the minimum wage is 104 CKZ (before taxes), which basically means that that beer would cost about £15 in London. I hope you see my point about how overpriced beer in the centre of Prague is.
Czech Beer prices in shops and supermarkets
If you are travelling to Prague on a budget or you want to try different types of beer that might not be available in the main tourist pubs, I’d recommend that you visit any of the large supermarkets in the centre of Prague, where the beer prices are super affordable.
You can pick up 0.5 ltrs bottles or cans of Staropramen from 15 CZK, Svijany from 18 CZK, Kozel from 20- 25 CZK, Radegast 24 CZK and you can save even more if you buy them in the packs of 6 (depending on the brand).
The cheapest beer I found the other day, was Klasik Beer for 11 CZK, Staropramen Non-alcoholic beer for 12 CZK, Holba Serak 13 CZK, Primus Beer 13 CZK, Pardal Light Beer 14CZK, Breznak 14 CZK, Zubr 14 CZK, Rastinger 14 CZK or Branik 14 CZK and it was a still a 0.5 litre bottle and it was a regular price, not any special offer.
I should also mention that the beer prices in glass bottles are for the beer, but at the till they might also charge you 3 CKZ more per bottle. This is because you can (and you should) return the empty glass back to the shop and you get your 3 CZK back.
Historic pubs in the centre of Prague
There are so many great historic pubs in the centre of Prague, so, it’s almost impossible to pick just a few, but these are the most popular ones. Since these pubs are in the centre they are also very popular with tourists and often very busy.
- Lokál Dlouhááá
Address: Dlouhá 33, 110 00 Staré Město, Prague
Known for its fresh Pilsner Urquell tank beer and traditional Czech cuisine. Nice decor, but slightly higher prices.
- U Zlatého Tygra
Address: Husova 17, 110 00 Staré Město, Prague
A historic pub frequented by locals and famous personalities such as the ex-President Clinton or Havel and also the Czech writer Bohumil Hrabal, serving mainly Pilsner Urquell and Kozel beer. Quite small inside and gets very busy during evenings and weekends. This pub is cash only, but the prices are normal (from 50 CZK). Take a seat and your beer will appear together with the old-fashioned white ticket where the bar staff mark each beer.
- U Fleků
Address: Křemencova 11, 110 00 Nové Město, Prague
Known for its own dark lager and traditional Czech pub and bar food, U Fleků is one of the oldest pubs in Prague, that also brews its own beer (and they don’t sell any other type). Plenty of space with medieval style decor. Reasonable prices (beer is 79 CZK) bar meals from 129 CZ, but the welcome small aperitives drinks will be charged to your account (79 CZK).
- Pivovarský Dům
Address: Ječná 13, 120 00 Nové Město, Prague
A microbrewery serving a variety of craft beers, including their own creations, accompanied by Czech cuisine.
- U Medvídků
Address: Na Perštýně 345/7, 110 00 Staré Město, Prague
Known for its historical brewery and home to strong beer X33 – reportedly one of the strongest beers in the world.
How to find the local pub, where everyone else is drinking
If you want to escape the crowds just walk a few streets away from the Old Town Square in any direction and you’ll find a pub that’s more local and where the beer doesn’t cost the equivalent of a main meal!
If you want to visit more local pubs, but still hear English voices head over to Vinohrady, where a lot of expaxts live and the pubs are trendy, but still less touristy than in the centre. You can also try another Prague micro brewery called Vinohradsky Pivovar which is sold in a lot of Vinohrady pubs.
Smichov, Karlin and Zizkov districts are also great for discovering local pubs serving good beer away from the centre of Prague.
If you want a relaxed pint of beer head over to the easy going Letna Beer Garden on top of the Letna Park, where you can get Pilsner Urquel and Kozel Dark beer at a very good price. There are also great views of Prague, so you can enjoy your drink and do ‘some sightseeing’ at the same time!
I also like to walk down to the Smichovska Naplavka (the Smichov side is even less busy than the Vysehrad side) where you can enjoy your beer right next to the Vltava River.
Another great relaxed ‘drinking beer by the river’ kind of place is the Scout’s Institute in the Rybarna at Kampa Island, where you can sit on the grassy banks of the river with a great view of Charles Bridge.
If you like a lighter type of beer like Staropramen, the best place to taste it is at the brewery itself! You can taste all the different types of Staropramen beer (including the Dark Barbora) at the brewery pub and also find out more about the brewing process and history by joining the Staropramen Brewery guided tour.
Czech Republic beer categories
- Lehké (“light”) – mild and low alcohol percentage beer.
- Výčepní (“draught”) – the most common type of beer with a lower alcohol percentage
- Ležák (“lager”) – usually stronger and have a more bitter taste.
- Speciál (“special”) – really varies, usually strong and often special flavours
Czech Republic beer degree scale
What does 10% on beer mean? Strength is labelled by degree scale. It is expressed as a weight percentage of sucrose. Most of the time it means – the higher the degree the higher alcohol percentage and the more bitter the taste. By far the most popular is 10° and 12°, but it can be just any degree between 7° and 18°.
Czech beers are not that strong in terms of alcoholic content – their fame lies in their unique taste – which is good news as it means you can sample more of them without getting too drunk.
- 10° (desítka) – usually around 4% of alcohol
- 11° (jedenáctka) – usually around 4,5% of alcohol
- 12° (dvanáctka) – usually around 5% of alcohol
- 13° (třináctka) – usually around 5,5% of alcohol
- 16° (šestnáctka) – usually around 6,5% of alcohol
Czech Republic beer colour explanations
- Light (Světlé) – easily the most popular beer in the Czech Republic
- Dark/Brown or Black (Tmavé) – sweeter, less bitter
- Black (Cerny) – smooth with a creamy head but sometimes translated as dark beer.
- Amber (Polotmavé (literally half dark/brown) or řezané (mix)) – something between pale and dark.
How to order your beer
If you order a beer, it will be assumed that you want a light beer (Světlé) and unless you
say otherwise. All beers are served as Velke (large), which is 0.5 litre (just under a pint) as default, unless you say you’d like a small beer.
Also there is no such thing as ‘shandy’ beer (as in lemonade and beer mixed together), since we don’t have traditional lemonade in pubs and more importantly, the barman would probably just show you the door because you’d be spoiling a good beer!
Equally, it’s acceptable for a woman to order a small beer, but if you are a man you might get slightly scoffed at!
You can, however, order something that’s called ‘rezane’ beer, which is a mix of light and dark beer mixed together. Some breweries make ‘rezane’ beer directly, but it’s perfectly fine if you ask for it at the bar, providing that the pub has both types of beer on the tap.
Useful Czech Phrases when ordering a Beer
In most cases, the younger bar staff will understand if you speak English, but if you want to you can also try a few Czech phrases to order your beer.
- Beer, please – pivo prosím (pee-vo pro-seem)
- Cheers – na zdraví (na zdravee)
- Large beer (0,5l / 16 oz.) – velké pivo (vel-keh pee-vo)
- Small beer (0,3l / 10 oz.) – malé pivo (mah-leh pee-vo)
- Bottled beer – točené pivo (to-cheneh pee-vo)
- Draught beer – lahvové pivo (lah-voveh pee-vo)
- Dark beer – tmavé (tuh-mah-veh)
- One more beer – ještě jedno (yesht-ye yed-no)
- That’s enough – to je dost (to ye dost)
- How much does it cost? – Kolik to stojí (ko-leek to story)
- I would like to pay, please – zaplatím prosím (zah-plaht-eem pro-seem)
What is the drinking law in Czech Republic?
The legal drinking age in the Czech Republic is 18 years old. This means individuals must be at least 18 years of age to purchase and consume alcoholic beverages, including beer, wine, and spirits. But if you’ve just turned 18 it’s always a good idea to carry ID with you (passport or at least official student card with a photograph) as you might be asked to prove your age both in pubs, restaurants and the shops.
The Czech Republic has specific laws regarding alcohol consumption in public places. It is generally legal to drink alcohol in public spaces such as parks or streets, unless you see a sign telling you not to. However, public intoxication or disruptive behaviour caused by alcohol consumption can lead to fines or other legal consequences.
The quirks of local Czech pubs
The real local Czech pub will probably just have a very limited food menu or snack menu.
The beer will often just arrive at your table as you sit down (often there is just one type of beer on the tap) and you get a white paper card where the barman marks the beers. When you finish the beer, you’ll automatically get another one unless you categorically say no.
The most popular Czech beers you need to try during your visit to Prague
- Pilsner Urquell: Produced by Plzeňský Prazdroj in the city of Plzen, (from where it gets its name) this is one of the most famous Czech beers worldwide. It’s known for its pale lager style and is considered the original Pilsner, with a significant production volume.
- Staropramen: Brewed by Staropramen Brewery in Prague, this brand produces a variety of lagers and is another widely consumed Czech beer with a significant production volume.
- Budweiser Budvar: Often referred to as Czechvar in the United States due to trademark issues, this beer comes from Budweiser Budvar Brewery in České Budějovice. It’s a well-regarded Czech lager with a notable production volume.
- Kozel: Brewed by Velkopopovický Kozel in Velké Popovice, Kozel offers a range of lagers and is popular both domestically and in various international markets.
- Krušovice: Krušovice is brewed by the Royal Brewery of Krušovice (Královský Pivovar Krušovice). It offers a range of beers, including pale lagers, dark lagers, and bock-style beers. Krušovice lagers are characterized by a smooth, malty flavour with a balanced bitterness.
- Svijany: Svijany is produced by Pivovar Svijany and is known for its traditional brewing methods and quality ingredients. The brewery offers various beers, including pale lagers, special ales, and wheat beers. Svijany beers often have a pleasant malt character with a hoppy aroma and a crisp finish.
- Gambrinus: Gambrinus is brewed by Plzeňský Prazdroj, the same brewery that produces Pilsner Urquell. It offers a range of lagers, including pale lagers and darker varieties. Gambrinus beers are characterized by a smooth malt profile and a balanced hop bitterness, making them easy to drink.
What are some Czech craft beers that are a must-try?
- Zichovec Brewery: Known for their innovative and unusual beers
- Matuska Brewery: Famous for its American-style IPAs and Russian Imperial Stouts
- Clock Brewery: A standout in the Czech craft beer scene with a focus on creative styles
- Permon Brewery: Produces a variety of beers, including classic lagers and inventive IPAs
What are some popular dark Czech beers?
While there isn’t an exact Czech equivalent to Guinness, the following beers are very close in taste and colour:
- Krušovice Černé: A dark lager with a sweet, malty flavour – easily available in Prague supermarkets and pubs
- Velkopopovický Kozel Černý: A caramel-toned dark lager, easily available in most Prague pubs
- Vinohradsky Pivovar – (S)Tout Noir – well rounded dark beer locally produced in Vinohrady – Prague 2
- Bernard Černý: A robust and flavourful dark beer
- Cerna Barbora – easy to drink dark beer made by Staropramen that you can get at the Staropramen Brewery in Smichov – Prague 5
- Primator Stout: A full-bodied stout beer with chocolate and coffee notes
- Kocour Stout: A rich, dark beer with flavours of espresso, chocolate, and dark fruits
This blog post was originally written on 30 November 2023 and last updated on 30 November 2023