In the past, visiting galleries was rather mandatory if one wanted to pretend to be an intellectual culture-vulture. And of course, here in Prague every week, there is a 300% possibility you will be invited to an exhibition, which you should in fact attend if possible. If for no other reason, there’s usually a lot of alcohol around and many interesting objects that serve as conversation starters.
The conversation might look something like this:
You: “Do you know this guy or that guy?”
The Other Person: “Nope.”
You: ”It doesn’t matter, let’s get some booze.”
The Other Person: ”What do you think of this sculpture/painting/drawing?”
You: ”Well, it seems to be well sculpted/painted/drawn. Let’s get some booze”.
Alcohol and shopping galleries
Unfortunately, for those who fancy beer more than wine, I’ve got really bad news: Gallery people drink a lot of wine and almost no beer. How can beer-lovers pretend that they are interested in beer only because they love art, then? There are a few malls in Prague, which are called “shopping galleries.” And there’s a lot of beer there. You can even find some of the good stuff, if you’re lucky. But to be honest, no-one would believe you that you keep buying your beer in a shopping gallery only because you expect to see some art (no, the posters on sale don’t count).
Art and beer
Luckily for the beer lover, a few guys in Prague have solved this problem by founding several beer galleries. Yes, real BEER GALLERIES! What would you imagine when you think of a beer gallery? Not a simple answer, I’d say. Is it a gallery with statues and paintings and a beer tap? Is it a gallery with beer-themed art works? No. A beer gallery is a place where MANY bottles of beer are on display. Typically, there’s every kind of beer you know. You name it, you have it. These places are usually settled by groups of people similar to our character: we want to drink some good beer, but we also want to give the impression of having something substantial behind it. We want to make others feel as if there was a sort of transcendence in drinking beer, that it’s not that profane. And beer galleries are the right place for this.
Here are two of my favorites that I suggest you visit, or explore new places and tell us about your experience.
Let’s start in Base Camp
Base Camp Gallery is an inconspicuous meeting place near Letná and Stromovka parks. If you enter and go downstairs, you’ll find yourself in a smallish basement with two tables and several fridges where the masterpieces of brewing art are displayed. This room is usually full of (well, full means five or six people in this case) talkative folks who make the atmosphere inside the gallery very pleasant and inspiring.
When you look around, you’ll probably notice a kind of mountaineer decor. That’s because this place was originally designed as a mountain climbers’ meeting point which was meant to combine a bar and climbing equipment rental. There’s also one more room in the very back of Base Camp which is devoted to Michael Jackson with posters of the iconic pop star everywhere on the walls. Good news (at least for those who smoke) is smoking is allowed here.
The beer selection is limited to bottles only, but the choice is almost unlimited. Lagers, Stouts, Bitters, Ales, you name it. The majority of the artworks comes from Bohemia and Moravia but you can be sure it’s much wider than only Plzen and Staropramen lagers. Despite the dominance of Bohemia and Moravia, beers from around the world can be found here: including Europe – especially Germany, Thailand, Australia – everything in one place. The choice of ciders from different countries and various soft beverages is also surprisingly pleasant.
The place is ideal for drinking some real delicacies and watching a football game on the big screen TV just above the magnificent fridges, and for chatting with random people who manage to wander in. Of course you can just stop in to buy some unusual beers for a picnic in Stromovka park, which is literally around the corner.
The beer gallery near a real gallery
The other beer gallery, I want to tell you about is called Pivní galerie and can also be found in Prague 7 on U Průhonu street, nr. 9. It’s very close to the well known DOX gallery, where you can enjoy some non-liquid contemporary art. Pivní galerie is a bit more traditional as it started spreading the art of beer back in 2001.
The selection is little smaller than in Base Camp Gallery because they mainly serve products from small Czech breweries. Foreign beers are available too, but don’too exotic. Also the shop is quite smoky, as smoking is allowed everywhere here.
On the other hand, there’s one huge advantage in Pivní Galerie – you can taste three different DRAUGHT beers brewed from three of Czech Republic’s small, independent breweries. Very nice staff is also a big plus.
I hope you found inspiration for mixing art with your love of beer and will explore more of this new aesthetic activity.