Almost one year since first opening, Vinohradský Pivovar has become a favorite place for locals, beer nerds, and anyone looking for a proper Czech meal. As locals of the neighborhood surrounding Vinohradský Pivovar, we’ve been trying their beer regularly throughout their first opening year, and are now devout fans of what’s being brewed as well as served on our plates.
What impressed us most was the honest approach to beer that the operators of Vinohradský Pivovar have. They aren’t beer snobs, beer experts, and the sort of folk that define themselves by what’s in their glass. They want a good, well made, and most importantly drinkable beer that’s in-line with Czech tradition. Their ideal beer isn’t something that you have just once, limited because of richness or strength, but something that you should be able to drink more than a few mugs of without feeling like a train wreck the next day.
The idea first sprouted, as many do here, over either good mugs of beer in a dingy pub, or bad mugs of beer in a good restaurant. In their eyes, it was a true challenge to find a pub that served both good beer, good food, and in a nice environment that everyone could enjoy. One member, Jan Korselt, began to think more about this, and with the help of an old friend and one of the Czech Republic’s most famed brewers, František Richter, the foundation stones of Vinohradský Pivovar began to fall into place. So in 2013, a group of 10 friends founded Vinohradský Pivovar with every intention of keeping the best part of Czech beer, while improving the gastronomy and environment.
František Richter, a renowned brewer, helped provide some scouting for the ideal space, and of course, worked on developing the recipes for Vinohradský Pivovar’s beer. A man of many talents, Richter is also behind two other successful brewing establishments, U Bulovky and Jihoměstský Pivovar.
Vinohradský’s roots go back to 1894, during an era when Prague was expanding and the suburb of Vinohrady was absorbed into Prague. Also named Vinohradský Pivovar, they brewed as much as 200,000 hectoliters of their ‘Velkopražské pivo’ during high season. Brewing steadily till WWII, it was nationalized like most Czech breweries in 1946.
Today, Vinohradský Pivovar brews 4000 hectoliters. Interestingly, the founders had no desire to research former recipes and base what we today have in our mugs on what the town folk of 100 years back would have drunk. However, they do use Czech traditional brewing methods, ferment their beers in open vats, and have a unique system for cooling their wort.
With a few laughs, they openly talk about their first brews, being fully aware that their brewery got off to a rocky start. Their first batches of lagers didn’t have the ideal taste, often being described as ‘piney’ and ‘muddy’. These first beers are not something they’re proud of, but rather a necessary growing pain that comes along with opening a new brewery. Today, their beer has come a long way. The 11° lager now has a good, full body; it’s unfiltered, giving it a wonderfully cloudy richness, and has a fresher, better balance of bitterness from the hops. Their 12° is increasingly getting better, and managing directer Jan Korselt has the inclination that with a bit more tweaking on the part of his brewers, the 12° will be even better than the 11°, which is currently their most popular beer.
Vinohradský’s brewing team has a creative approach to what they brew; not inhibited by the owners, brewers here are free to brew different styles of beers. They’ve brewed a large variety of ales, wheat beers, and a bock or two. Despite some experimentation, you’ll always find their 11° light lager and amber lager on tap, due to their popularity with locals.
Expanding beyond filling just their taps, they now sell their beer to other pubs, most of which are in Vinohrady. Despite the growth in local demand, Vinohradský has no ambition of increasing their brewing capacity beyond what suits neighborhood demands and allows for consistent quality.
Closely tied to their surroundings, Vinohradský pivovar aspires to be a neighborhood brewery; a place where locals pop in after work for a quick mug on their way home, or a place for a well-made, affordable dinner that suits everyone, including women and children. The idea of quality is the bottom line for everything- from the beer, to the food, to the wine list and environment, this is a place that doesn’t have a weak area.
Take trams 10 and 16 to Orionka stop, or the metro station Flora is a 5 minute walk.
Travel links (Czech Republic)