Category Archives: Pubs

Gastropub 20 Pip

The first stop on what is sure to be a long journey to find a pub I can call home was Gastropub 20 Pip, a narrow bar on Náměstí Míru boasting an impressive twenty beers on draught.

The word “gastropub” fills me with terror, as does the idea of having to choose between too many similar-sounding options, but, not having had a single pint in the 24 hours I’d been in Czechia, I swallowed my fear and headed in. After all, being sober in Prague after 6pm is practically a criminal offence.

The bar decor is inspired by typical Czech pubs – green walls, dark paneling and furniture – but updated to make the space bright and airy; plus, though the pub is narrow, it’s set over two levels and giant windows stop the place from feeling as stuffy as archetypal Czech beer halls.

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This beer was acceptably tasty.

It’s probably worth mentioning at this point that my exploration of Czech pubs is as much motivated by a desire to practise my language skills as it by a dependency on alcohol, so I’m keen to avoid places that seem too touristy or where English is spoken more than Czech.

With that in mind, I headed to the bar and attempted to engage in cheerful banter with the bartender.

In her defence, she humoured me as much as she could: when it was obvious from my accented Czech that I was a foreigner, she asked if I’d rather speak English. I clumsily declined, saying I needed to work on my Czech, and, to her credit, she continued to deal with me in Czech, despite the fact that she clearly spoke my language better than I spoke hers.

She also helped me navigate the frankly excessively long menu, picking out a couple of dark beers she recommended and giving me a taste of each. Once I’d paid, I felt too awkward to sit at the tiny bar so I took my pint upstairs and sat down by the window to mull things over.

The beer itself, Albrecht-Marion, a 5.9% ABV Irish Stout, was decent. I’d describe it as “fine” or “alright.”

The setup of tables was definitely more gastro- than -pub, and, perhaps for this reason, there wasn’t a great sense of camaraderie in the bar; it definitely wasn’t the sort of place you’d strike up a conversation with your neighbour.

As you might have noticed, I’m quite firmly set against the concept of gastropubs. It’s not that I think they should be wiped from the face of the earth; I just find the idea of them a little troublesome. I like my pubs to be beer-focused, maybe with some light snacks thrown in as an afterthought. Introducing cutlery into the mix doesn’t help anyone.

Overall, whilst I left 20 Pip feeling that I’d found a slightly-better-than-average place to take visiting relatives, I knew in my bones that this first pub in my Prague Saga was decidedly not a place I could call my own. Impressive beer mat collection aside, it was actually pretty nondescript – it felt pretty mainstream, offensively inoffensive, and definitely not a local.

I award Gastropub 20 Pip two sodden beer mats and a fork with crusty bits on the tines.

The hunt continues…

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The Hunt for a Local

– or: Why It’s Legitimate For Me to Spend 20% of My Money on Beer –

All the photos in this post (and, indeed, most of my other posts) were taken by the very talented TestExplosion.

Recently (read: four days ago) I moved to Prague. Typically disorganised and, if I do say so, almost wilfully scatty, I’d not sorted a job or a place to live before I flew out; the only foreplanning I’d done involved booking a mildly well-reviewed hostel for a week and spending hours getting the font on my CV just right.

As you can imagine, the lack of forethought, combined with my frankly mizerný grasp of the Czech language, as well as general heartbreak about leaving St Petersburg, has left me feeling pretty tiny in a big world. Add to that a less than ideal hostel situation and incredibly hot weather (which, as we all know, makes me grumpy), and you’ve got a Ro feeling like the last Smartie in the tube of Smarties.

What I need is a home away from home. A local.

Thanks to incredibly good fortune and a friend well into craft beer and places where you can smoke indoors, my local in St Petersburg was, and I don’t want to overstate this, heaven on earth. After four months of regular visits and God knows how many roubles, Blinders Bottleshop really did feel like a second home.

Honestly, it felt like my first home, with my actual bedroom taking second place and the café that made incredible pasta a close third.

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World’s drunkest family portrait

We were on ты terms with the barmen (read: tu, tú, ty, Du), they let us stay way past closing, didn’t complain when we (read: I) left origami cranes all over the bar. At a certain point, they told us that if we ever wanted to drink before opening, we should just knock on the shutters until someone let us in.

My happiest memories of St Petersburg, almost without exception, happened in that small, dark, slightly cramped and beer-smelling room. A great deal of my Russian language skills are thanks to the exposure to authentic (and, sometimes, extremely colourful) Russian I got chatting to locals and visitors.

What makes it all the more spectacular is how welcome we foreign students felt in Blinders – and, as a group, we couldn’t be more foreign: gay, black, pink hair… In a lot of parts of Petersburg, we were singularly out of place; but at Blinders we were accepted and welcomed. Honestly, I tear up thinking about it.

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And that’s what I want here, too. A place where misfits of all descriptions can go, enjoy an incredible pint, and talk for hours about absolutely nothing.

It’s a tall order, sure. I’m searching for somewhere to rival my favourite place on earth but, by God, I swear I’ll find somewhere, even if I have to try every pub in Prague…