While wandering the cobbled streets of Prague, it’s impossible to escape the magical history of this gothic city. Part of this history lies firmly with such places as U Fleků, whose roots go back to the year 1499, when the brewery was first documented. Since then, U Fleků has witnessed the rise and fall of kings, emperors, and regimes- while always serving quality lager.
U Fleků is an impressive complex, and is the largest restaurant in the Czech republic, seating 1200 people. In the year 1499, the owner listed was a man by the name of Kremenec, hence the name of the street. In 1762, the brewery began to prosper under the ownership of a brewer named Flekovsky, which the brewery is still named after. Over 500 years old, the original brewery was small- just one building, two stories high. As it grew in popularity in the 18th century, buildings were connected creating the courtyard that you can see today.
Even with its rich history, U Fleků is still today a hand-made operation. Only 4 people work in beer production here. As you might know, U Fleků’s infamous dark lager can only be drunk in their pub, or bottles bought directly from them. 2500 hectoliters are brewed per year, which is about 42 or 43 batches of beer, and currently brewed on Tuesdays beginning at 4 a.m. Using their 140 year old mill, they mill their own Czech malt, using a combination of roasted dark and light malt, and of course Saaz hops. Their copper vats are from 1937, and located in a room with a ceiling dating back to the 1360’s. After the mashing, the beer is transferred to a very unique copper cooling bed. U Fleků’s entire brewing process lasts 40 days, including 9 days fermenting, and one month lagering, after which, it’s pumped directly to the pub and into your glass.
U Fleků’s dark lager is unpasteurized and unfiltered, which means freshness is key- their beer lasts only about 4 weeks before it goes off, because it still contains active yeast. Originally, they served a light Czech lager, but beginning in 1843, they started to brew their special dark 13° lager. Over the years the recipe has only been slightly modified, and since 1971, they’ve had the same brewmaster. Before the revolution, when their crowd was mostly a mix of Czechs and Germans, they brewed 4 times per week. Now, on average working day, about 500 liters are drunk, and about 6000 liters per week. Their record was the day the Rolling Stones played in Prague, when 5000 liters were drunk in one day. And, on June 1, 1953, with a cruel currency devaluation scheduled for midnight, they actually ran completely out of beer.
U Fleků’s tour is fun, educational, and a feast for your eyes- the architecture in the brewery is amazing. You have a unique chance to feel the history that makes Prague and Czech beer so special. Tours are made upon request, but require a group minimum of 10 people.
Since 1843, U Fleků has served their critically acclaimed special dark 13° lager. Having a dark, deep almost black color, this beer has a lighter, sweet aroma. It’s exceptionally smooth- gently carbonated, this lager easily flows around your tongue, with a remarkably light refreshing body. With a sweeter beginning, this lager has the distinct taste of roasted barely, giving it a caramel taste, which ends with a bit of hops. Even though 13°, this lager doesn’t overwhelm you with the taste of alcohol. An excellent, historical Czech lager.
U Fleků is the Czech Republic’s largest restaurant, with seating for 1200 people. With numerous beer halls, decorated with gothic motifs, furniture, and low hazy light, it’s impossible to not get a feel for the history of medieval Prague. Underneath the shade of chestnut trees, is a pleasant summer garden with space for 400 people. Making a reservation isn’t a bad idea- U Fleků is always on the list for tourist groups, so many of the halls are booked in advance.
To go along with the special dark lager, they serve a variety of traditional Czech classics, such as Flekovský guláš, svíčková (beef in a creamy sauce), one half of a baked chicken or duck, and uzená krkovička (smoked pork neck). For those with a terrific appetite, they have ‘Flekovská bašta‘ which is duck, pork meat, sausages, and dumplings, or pečené koleno, a baked pork knee. If a snack is all you need, they have typical Czech beer snacks like nakládaný hermelín (pickled camembert cheese), pivní sýr (beer cheese) or number of other hot or cold snacks. Prices are aren’t cheap, but normal for a historical brewery in the center.
Today, U Fleků’s clientele have changed since their pre-revolution days. Now, most guests are tourists, and quite often larger tour groups visit U Fleků since this brewery is famous the world over. But, no doubt every Czech knows this infamous brewery and lager. Service is sometimes a bit brisk- but undoubtably quick, and professional.
How to get there
Located in the center of Prague on Křemencova, you can take any metro or tram to Narodni Trida or Mustek, and U Fleků is within a short walk.
Travel links (Czech Republic)