Experienced beer drinkers, who are at least a little interested in history and architecture probably know there are several monasteries in and around Prague. Yes, monks, old books, praying and so on, that’s what we think when we think of monks. But did you know there is a brewery inside an abbey? You may know several abbey beers, mainly from Belgium, Germany or Austria, Trappist beer is probably the most well-known among these.
How did at all happen?
The abbey was founded by second Bishop of Prague, Vojtěch in AD 993. The brewery probably existed there as a part of the premises even as early as in the 10th century. However the abbey was almost comletely destroyed, during the Hussite wars in 15th Century and most of the monks and the abbot moved to an abbey in Broumov.
Břevnov monastery was renewed in 17th century and the new brewery was built in 1720, however it was heavily damaged in War of the Austrian Succession in 1742. Then it was repaired, but it was decided to close it in 1889 because of insufficient capacity of the cellars.
20th Century was a disaster for Břevnov monastery. It was seized ba Nazi army after the German occupation in 1938 and after the war the communist govenment extpropriated the premises. The monastery was given back to the Benedictines in 1991.
The new brewery was built in former stables in and started making beer in 2011. The owners say their mission is to follow the tradition of Břevnov abbey beer.
What do they brew?
Six sorts of beer are regularly made in Břevnov.
Světlá dvanáctka is classic strong Czech lager with mild bitterness.
Four kinds of malt are used to brew Tmavý ležák, which is dark lager with caramel taste and aroma.
Wheat beer of Bavarian style is a lighter beverage with banana and clove aroma.
Imperial lager is a super strong choice, perfect with game meat or aromatic cheese.
If you feel like having something really special, try Russian Imperial stout – a strong stout with taste of dark chocolate.
Abbey IPA is pale ale on the boundary of English and American styles.
Where can we drink it?
There are several pubs, bars and restaurants where you can get one of the excellent Břevnov brews:
Café Lajka in Letná
Zubatý pes in Vršovice
Kulový Blesk in New Town
Or Pivovarský klub in Karlín.
But the best is going directly to the source.
How to get there:
The easiest way (we’ll probably drink some beer, so I don’t mention going by car) is to take tram 25 (from Hradčanská metro station) or 22 (from Malostranská metro station), these go directly to Břevnov Monastery, the stop is called “Břevnovský Klášter“. If you want to show your martyr level you can walk there from Prague Castle. It takes about 2 hours and is not an ugly trip at all. Then you just need to cross the rushy road and enter the beautiful park which surrounds the abbey.
If you’re interested in history and architecture you surely won’t regret paying CZK 50 for the excursion inside the abbey, where the brewery is. Apart from it, St. Margaret’s church with ceiling fresco by Cosmas Damian Asam is a must-see.
What is it like?
Now we have a few options where to enjoy the abbey beer.
Firstly, the beer shop is worth visiting, even though it’s just a shop. But it’s still a beer shop.
The other good option is hanging out in Klášterní šenk where you can enjoy some delicius dishes together with (usually) two Břevnov beers. We strongly recommend hashbrowns with ostrich meat which, together with draught Abbey IPA, probably personify the opposite of the Middle ages monks’ asceticism.
I honestly believe the drinking experience is at least the same strength as the spiritual one here in the oldest male monastery in Bohemia.