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Restaurace U Medvídků v The New York Times

The New York Times - 6.8.2006 - The Ultimate Beer Run in the Czech Republic

Most visitors never get past U Medvidku’s busy beer hall, with its wooden booths and ceaselessly replenished trays of Budweiser Budvar. But hidden upstairs is one of the newest microbreweries in the country.

It produces just one beer: a semi-dark amber called Oldgott that is brewed at 13 degrees on the Balling scale. (The Balling scale is based on the percentage of malt sugar before fermentation, and many Czech beer drinkers specify a number — “10,” “12” or “13” — when ordering. Higher Balling numbers usually mean more alcohol, though not always.)
On the flipside, some hotels are now starting their own breweries. U Medvidku, a beer hall and hotel in Prague that dates to 1466, just opened a tiny brewery of its own, though it remains something of a secret.
Oldgott is also a kvasnicove pivo, or yeast beer, a rare subspecies of Czech Pilsner that has fresh yeast added after fermentation. The extra yeast makes the beer extremely crisp and vibrant. It seems almost alive — which, in a sense, it is since yeast beers are usually unpasteurized. And since unpasteurized beers do not travel well, they must be consumed quickly, usually right where they are made.

Here, a bartender at work in Prague at U Medvidku. In addition to serving standard Czech beers, the establishment has its own microbrewery.

The lack of pasteurization also leaves the flavors at their most forceful: the malt undertones are richer and sweeter, the hops sharper and more bitter. “Pasteurization cuts the taste in half,” said Ladislav Vesely, U Medvidku’s brewer, as he handed me a half-liter glass tapped directly from the lagering barrel.
Czech brewery hotels are usually family-owned affairs with a small brewpub and restaurant on the ground floor.
U Medvidku ( 420-224-211-916 ; www.umedvidku.cz), one of Prague’s oldest beer halls, is now home to its newest microbrewery. It is near the Narodni trida metro station, just a short stumble from Prague’s Old Town Square. Doubles are 3,000 koruna until Sept. 7.

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