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U Fleku – Prague, Bohemia, Czech Republic, U Fleku

Raucous and Rowdy, the Czech Beer Experience

“Wherever beer is brewed, all is well. Whenever beer is drunk, life is good” goes one Czech proverb.

After an evening at Prague’s oldest and most famous beer hall, you won’t have any trouble believing that Czechs consume more pivo (beer) per capita than any other nationality – except that all these hundreds of beer-swilling, fun-making stein wielders are speaking and singing in every language except Czech. Everyone complains about the noise and the food, but the place has been packed for cen­turies: records show that a license to make beer on this spot dates back to 1499, and the original Budweiser was a Czech beer.

U Fleku neither exports nor even bottles its famously pungent brew – and there doesn’t appear to be a need to, since the whole world comes here. Six large tavernlike rooms of communal tables, outside gardens, and shade trees make the capacity crowd seem less astounding than it is; the place is downright cozy during cold and dark winter evenings. A Czech brass oompah band plays traditional drinking music most summer weekends and if you’ve never experienced Munich’s Oktoberfest, you won’t have to after this.

The rich, dark home-brewed beer with its creamy head may not be to every­one’s liking, but 46,000 hectoliters of the elixir (about 2.15 million gallons) are said to be consumed yearly. Little wonder that any complaints about the goulash and dumplings are halfhearted.

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