When traveling in Europe, I think half the thrill is experiencing good food and good drink with good friends. Over the years I’ve developed this uncanny knack for searching out and finding cool little places to eat and drink. My rule is always go for the local stuff. To do that, you’ve often got to get out of your comfort zone, venture sometimes into the unknown, and even be willing to accept embarrassment or ridicule… but the pay-off is most always worth the effort.
CZECH REPUBLIC – The Czech Republic is known for good lager. Ever since the middle ages many towns, no matter how small, have had their own brand of beer. Last month I was in Český Krumlov and Prague with a small tour group. We had our share of wine in France for the first few days, but the last half of the tour was in “beer” country. First Switzerland, then Austria, and finally the Czech Republic. Pilsner reigns supreme in the Czech Republic. Its light, clear color ranging from pale up to a golden yellow is a treat to the eyes, and the distinct hop aroma is a bouquet for the nose. And the flavor… pure, clean, crisp, with no after taste.
The most popular Czech Pilsners are Pilsner Urquell, Staropramen, and Budweiser. Budweiser is probably most interesting to us Americans. The Czech “Budweiser” and America’s Anheuser-Busch “Budweiser” are miles apart in taste and quality. Where Anheuser-Busch “Budweiser” gives me an immediate headache, the Czech variety is smooth as silk with great taste and flavor. It seems that original Czech Budweiser Bier was founded in 1795 in Budweis, a town in Bohemia (now part of the Czech Republic). This beer was known as Budweiser because it was known to be from the town of Budweis, hence the adjective Budweis-er. In the United States, Anheuser-Busch started using the name Budweiser for its beer in 1876 and two years later they finally decided to register its name. So I guess the long story short is that there has long been a debate over which is the “King of Beers,” beer from Budweis or beer from Anheuser-Busch. For me there is no comparasion. I go for the original and local stuff every time.
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