Beer necessities


Hello and welcome to the ABC of Czech where this season we look at Czech vocabulary related to food and drink. Today we are going to talk about the most typical Czech beverage: beer or pivo.

The place to try the local brew is a pub, in Czech hospoda or pivnice, literally a "beer pub". They are often smoky places with grumpy waiters and questionable toilets, but that's all part of the experience. In the last few years, many breweries have opened their own chains of pubs around the country, which have good ventilation and the menu is a little more sophisticated than in traditional Czech pubs.

The usual glass size is half a litre or půllitr. They come in many shapes, with or without handles, and different breweries try to distinguish themselves by designing different glasses. Ladies will appreciate the fact they can order malé pivo, or a small beer, which is three decilitres. Some pubs also have four-decilitre glasses. If half a litre isn't enough for you, you can ask for tuplák, or a double, that is a one-litre jar.

Most Czechs prefer light-coloured beer, or světlé pivo, but there is a wide variety of dark, sweeter beers too. Dark beer is černé pivo or literally black beer. You can also try out a blend of light and dark beer, which in Czech is called řezané pivo - literally "cut beer". Most Czechs look down on beer in cans and many even avoid bottled beer because there is nothing like draft beer or točené pivo.

Many pubs have only one brand of beer on tap, so you don't order by brand, you just ask for a pivo. However, in most cases you can choose between desítka and dvanáctka (a "ten" or a "twelve") which differ in the volume of alcohol.

Typical Czech draft beer has to have a head or pěna, literally foam or lather. If it does not you should definitely complain to the barman at the tap, or pípa. The place where beer is brewed or brewery, is pivovar.

There is much more beer-related vocabulary than can fit into today's edition, so next time we'll be talking about some beer idioms and sayings. Till then, na zdraví! Cheers!