Restaurace Kulový Blesk
Sokolská 13, Praha 2
Tel: +420 721/420 859
Beer is central to the lives of Czechs to a degree that few, if any, countries can match. One recent study shows that per capita, Czechs drink the most beer in the world, and it’s not all that close. They consume 20% more beer per person than the second place country, Ireland, with Germany a close third. I’ve always liked Czech pilsners that is far and away the most popular style with their dry, bitter clean flavor. I still remember the revelatory experience of trying Staropramen on tap for the first time at the outstanding pub Lucky Baldwin’s in Old Town Pasadena in the mid-90s. I finally understood what the inspiration was for all these American beer giants whose main purpose appears to be selling lifestyle or image rather than flavor.
Like in many European countries, however, the beer industry is dominated by a small handful of national (to international) brands such as Pilsner Urquell, Budweiser Budvar, Krušovice, Gambrinus and Staropramen (I prefer Budvar and Staropramen from the above list). I knew from a past visit that there are smaller, local breweries. Years ago I had visited the generally well-regarded tourist trap U Fleků which showed to me a different side of Czech beer, and on a recent visit I figured I’d try to learn more about the small artisinal producers in a country with a rich brewing history. A quick search led me to Restaurace Kulový Blesk, which is a fairly easy 15 minute walk (or one metro stop ride) from Wenceslas Square in central Prague. They pride themselves on a fairly extensive selection of beer only from small Czech producers.
The first beer I tried on recommendation from my very accommodating server was a pilsner from Únětice (the brewery appears to be named Únětický). At the risk of slight exaggeration, this pilsner is to, say, Pilsner Urquell what Urquell is to Bud Light. More flavor, more complexity, and more vibrant than the macrobrews that are ubiquitous in Prague. One of the very best of that style I’ve ever had. My next was the Raptor IPA from what seemed to be one of the best-regarded producers, Matuška. The Czechs with whom I was sharing a table heartily recommended it, charmingly pronouncing “IPA” as “ee-pah”. I’m a big fan of American IPAs, especially from the West Coast, and while this version was not up to the standards of the US has to offer, it was a decent effort and an indication that some Czechs are willing to look beyond their traditional beer styles for creative inspiration.
The Restaurace itself is mostly a locals scene. Ordering food in Prague is normally not too difficult because someone, if not everyone, who deals with customers in central Prague speaks some English. Not so here, which actually refreshing. The food itself was fine, no better or worse than most Prague pubs. Sitting outside in the covered beer garden was a great place to relax after a day of work. I ended up chatting with the guys sharing my table and they couldn’t have been nicer, and two of them were pretty much fluent in English. We talked for well over an hour about beer and sports and all those other things that guys drinking beer talk about. I tried sips of their beers as well and saw the quality shine through on all of them.
Given that there are many choices in Prague, but with only a small fraction of them actually interesting, I would return in a heart beat. Highly recommended!