I’ve had a lot of excuses for having a cheeky glass of alcohol over the years, but I have never before been able to claim that it’s because it’s holy.
Perched on the hilltop above Prague, you will find a brewery like no other.
Only a short walk from the busy streets of Prague Castle, and gently perched in next to the stunning and quaint Strahov Monastery, you will find a small brewery serving their very own St. Norbert beer. Centuries ago, this little brewery got their permission to brew by the head of the monastery himself – and they got to serve their beer to both visitors and inhabitants of the monastery, making their beer famous all around the country.
So technically, I assume that trying a pint of St. Norbert can be considered as ‘historical research’ – at least in my opinion. As mentioned, the original brewery dates back to the 13th century when they were granted their special permission to brew on church land. Unfortunately, the brewery closed down in 1907, after more than 500 years of active beer-service.
In fact, the brewery as it is today was renewed as late as in 2000, as part of an extensive reconstruction of the entire building. The year after, it reopened with the former carriage-hall transformed into a microbrewery. The first batch was brewed in June 2001, during the Feast of St. Norbert, the Patron Saint of the nearby Strahov Monastery. In a clever PR campaign, they relied on ther historical ties to Strahov Monastery and their production of ‘holy’ beer.
So which beers are on offer? Well, take your pick between St. Norbert, a dark IPA, and several types of seasonal beers.
The unfiltered and unfermented brews include a bitter Amber (a big favourite of D!). The seasonal beers varies with the time of year, but rumour has it they serve a tasty wheat beer during summer, and an excellent Brown Ale during the winter months. In addition to the brewery, you’ll also find a small restaurant serving hearty, traditional Czech cuisine. Oh, do try the bratwurst! I won’t say it’s life changing, but that bratwurst must certainly be the nemesis of every vegetarian out there.
Bear in mind that there’s a cheeky, small brewery located right next to Strahov Brewery – and it’s not of the ‘holy’ kind. We, of course, got the two mixed up and ended up ordering from the wrong brewery – luckily we soldiered on, finished our drinks (which were quite nice!) and moved on to try the real deal. We considered it a warm-up.
So what’s the final verdict? Well, I must admit that the jury’s still out on my part. I’ve never been a huge beer drinker, and I tend to stick to my prefered tipples, gin and wine. D, however, seem to love the dark and heavy brews of Central Europe (He’s a big fan of the microbreweries in Gdansk), and he’s still raving about that time he had holy beer in Prague.