We got into the Czech Republic’s second-largest city early Saturday afternoon, expecting to see plenty of people milling about or sitting in the pub enjoying a beer. However, it turns out that weekend is actually the quietest time in Ostrava as everyone heads to the mountains. Many shops and restaurants even close completely between Friday and Monday, and we basically had the city to ourselves. Despite this, it was an interesting place to spend a few days. Ostrava has an industrial vibe, similar to Katowice in Poland; not the most tourist-friendly city in the world, but with a few hidden gems. For example, the renovated Dolní Vítkovice ironworks on the southern side of town were truly impressive.
Anyway, let’s get on to the beer. Of course, the Czech Republic is famous for its lagers, and whatever day of the week you arrive there’s always somewhere to find some good ones. Even I, never normally a lager drinker, have to admit that some of the local examples aren’t too bad! Nevertheless, I was hoping to be able to find my craft fix somewhere too.
After a tiring day’s travelling, we opted for an early night on Saturday, but when Sunday came around we felt refreshed and ready to start exploring the city. As many places were closed for the weekend, we headed to U Segala in Fifejdy, a short bus ride from town. It’s one of the best-rated beer bars in Ostrava and it was easy to see why; alongside the ever-present Polička lager (4%), there are about half a dozen beers from smaller Czech breweries. My favourite was the Clock APA (5%), a classic American Pale Ale with hoppy bitterness and tropical notes. We had planned to visit a couple more places in the area, some more “local” bars. However, just as we left the heavens opened so we called it a day and headed back to the hotel.
Monday was a day for culture and sightseeing rather than beer, although we did stop for one in an interesting bar called 2 To 2. The bar has a pretty unique concept, where you’re charged for every half-hour you spend there. In order to make up for this, the drinks are much cheaper than in other bars. It’s not a craft place (think more bottled lagers), but it was still worth popping in just for the novelty.
Finding ourselves at a bit of a loose end on Tuesday, we decided to explore a little further afield. The Poruba district, about six miles from the city centre, is where many of Ostrava’s students live. As we’ve found in other cities on our trip, where there’s students you can usually find good beer too. With this in mind, we took the tram out to see what we could find.
A stroll through the area’s Communist-era tenement blocks eventually brought us to Barunka. Located just off the main road, the bar was quiet on a Tuesday afternoon but featured a cracking retro playlist. The beer wasn’t bad either, with about 8 on draught plus a handful of bottles. I went for the Vysoký Chlumec Démon (5.2%), a malty and slightly sweet amber lager. Meanwhile, Poppy’s choice was Černá Hora Kvasar, a tasty 5.7% honey beer.
As great as the 80s music was, we decided to head off in search of the next place. About 10 minutes’ walk up past the hospital and the university (and countless other small bars) we came across Pivotechna. This was easily the craftiest place we’d seen in Ostrava, with bottles and cans from around the world; not for the first time this trip, we even found a few bottles of Thornbridge on offer! The bar also offered probably the best value tasting flight I’ve ever seen at 69Kč (about £2.50) for six samplers. Unfortunately the beers themselves were a bit hit-and-miss on this occasion, but the highlight was Beerokracie’s Beerokratico (5.5%), once again a very enjoyable APA.
Leaving Picotechna, we ventured off the main road into a nearby housing estate. Our destination was a bar recommended on a city map, Kurnik Šopa, which is local slang for “Dammit”. The map promised it would be worth the journey, with beers from small Czech breweries plus authentic regional food. Apparently, there’s a second branch near the train station too, but we thought it would be more fun to visit the original. What we found was a traditional European pub, its wooden walls lined with empty beer bottles. Again, there were around 8 beers available on tap; Poppy went for the light, refreshing Pivovar Ogar Summer Ale (4%), while I had the surprisingly excellent Valášek Čokoládový Leoš (6%). Chocolate in an IPA sounds like an unlikely pairing, but I have to say the combination really worked!
There were still a couple of city centre bars to check out before we left Ostrava, so we jumped on a tram back into town. Our first port of call was Psí Kusy, the tap room for the local HoppyDog micro-brewery. We’d actually had one of their beers in our Pivotechna tasting flight earlier in the day, so I was looking forward to trying one or two more of theirs. They only had 3 beers available on tap but I wasn’t disappointed – the Hoppy Fruity 14° was a delicious IPA packed with mango and citrus notes.
With an hour before the local supermarket (pretty much the only place in town to get food after 7 pm) closed, we just had time for one more before calling it a night. We decided to finish up in the Hobbit Club, a vaguely Tolkien-themed bar with a very loud heavy metal playlist. They also brew their own beer, sold under the Qásek brewery label. In true Czech fashion, I chose to finish the evening with a lager. Tmavý Ležák 11° (4.4%) was a classic dunkel beer, with its deep brown colour and smooth, malty flavour.
I’m in Ostrava for the day, where should I visit? If it’s craft you’re after, then you can’t really look past Pivotechna; they have a great range of Czech microbreweries, plus international names such as De Molen. However, for the true Czech pub experience, I can highly recommend Kurnik Šopa – I only wish we’d stayed to try the food too!
Brewery to look out for? I’d never had a chocolate IPA before, but Valášek’s Čokoládový Leoš was probably my favourite beer of the few days. They’re not a brewery I’d heard of before, but I’ll definitely be keeping an eye out now.