Lagered beer lives a subterranean life, a troglodyte existence, hidden away in cellars, sleeping the sleep of the just in the darkness. At the Klub Malych Pivovaru (Small Brewers Club), a bar at the base of a shabby Plzen tenement block (in need of a paint job, communist neo-brutalist architecture) these lagered beers emerge into a bright, light world where an artificial sun seemingly shines all night long. The light in the bar is stark and white, almost dazzling in its brilliance. Getting the light right in a bar or pub is essential in my book. Too bright and you might as well be in a waiting room with a dentist outside waiting with a drill. Too dark and you’ll be stumbling over bodies, spilling your drink down your front and generally having a miserable time. Many of our human activities are best done in toned down light (I won’t state the all-important obvious example). Other than this gripe about the light though I loved Klub Malych Pivovaru — it’s a busy buzzy bar down a backstreet, not far from where Pilsner Urquell emerges into the world. It’s a place to which we applied ourselves to on the first night in Plzen, in need of a walk to work off the Herculean portions of dumplings and duck that makes Czech cuisine such a delight and a dare (dare you have the plate of sausages, the knuckle of pork, the trencherman’s portion of dumplings, go on I dare you). Great beer choice (yet another example of the ongoing Czech beer evolution — I thought about using the word revolution but then thought maybe the Czechs have had enough of revolutions foro a century or two), youngish, slightly hipster clientele (plus a table of Status Quo lookalikes in one corner). Two rooms, one bar, beer bottles as decor, bare brick walls, a soft of raffia mat effect on the ceiling and a garden outside. The hum and thrum of conversation, a consonant-rich ricochet of Slavic tongue. The Kout 10˚ is light and airy, with delicate caramel notes and a spicy, dry, bitter finish. Herold’s wheat beer is banana and cloves on nose with a banana custard note on the palate kept in line by a clovey sternness. Good stuff. And yet… Get the beer right: check. Get the people right: check. Get the lighting right: fail. This would not stop me returning or recommending it to people but I hope that one small item will appear on Klub Malych Pivovaru’s shopping list next time they go to a DIY store: a dimmer switch (please).