Monday, 30 August 2010

The unbearable lightness of being in Klub Malych Pivovaru

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).


  1. I accept the dare. Knedlíčky will be one of my specialisms when I go professional on the competitive eating circuit.

  2. I see your klobasy, veprove koleno and knedliky and raise you bramboracky, svickova and ovocne knedliky.

    This may just have regressed my home sickness by about 14 months.

  3. So who eat the dumplings? I did my bit. This bar is brilliant. A shining example of the changing face of the Czech beer scene. The old is pretty good, the future could be outstanding. People who run bars like this need the time, capital and customers to turn a dream into a viable business. I hope they do it.

  4. Yes, lighting is important. I don't know that I've ever been to a bar or pub that was too dark.

    Just eaten dinner but now I'm hungry again. Thanks.

  5. Fantastic blog, we're trying to have a tavern at cornish world St Austell and sell local produce their, fingers crossed

  6. BN — I look forward to reading your adventures on this challenging pro-circuit
    Velky — glad to be of help with the home sickness
    Tim — you certainly put away your fair share
    Bailey — careful, you’ll end up being called Two Dinners
    Cornish world — thanks