B for beer

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Hello and welcome again to the ABC of Czech. Today I'm here with Daniela Lazarova and it's time for the letter "B". I'll give you a hint: brewery, barrel, belly... Yes, we are going to talk about beer or "pivo". Beer and the Czech Republic are inseparable and if you ever visit the country, even if you are not a great beer-drinker, you should at least try it...

Hello and welcome again to the ABC of Czech. Today I'm here with Daniela Lazarova and it's time for the letter "B". I'll give you a hint: brewery, barrel, belly... Yes, we are going to talk about beer or "pivo". Beer and the Czech Republic are inseparable and if you ever visit the country, even if you are not a great beer-drinker, you should at least try it.

The obvious place to try the local brew is a pub, in Czech "hospoda" or "pivnice", which usually looks nothing like a classic English or Irish pub. Be prepared for a smoky place with grumpy waiters and questionable toilets, but that's all part of the experience. The Czech Republic uses the metric system - so forget about pints. The usual glass size is half a litre or "pùllitr". In case you don't feel up to it, you can order "malé pivo", or a small beer, which is 3 decilitres. But on the other hand, if you are really thirsty, you can ask for "tuplák", or a double, that is a one-litre jar.

Most Czechs prefer light beer, or svìtlé pivo, but there is a wide variety of dark, sweeter beers too. Dark beer is "èerné pivo" or literally black beer. You can also try out a blend of light and dark beer, which in Czech is called "øezané pivo" - which comes from "øezat" - to cut. In a Czech "hospoda", people typically drink draft beer or "toèené pivo". And - you might be surprised to hear - 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 ale or "desítka" and lager, or "dvanáctka". Patrons would look at you with suspicion if you ordered bottled beer - "lahvové pivo" - or canned beer - "pivo v plechovce", literally beer in a can.

Typical Czech draft beer has to have a head or "pìna". 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" in Czech which comes from "vaøit" - to brew.

Czechs can be quite affectionate when talking about what the common man calls "liquid bread" and exporters "liquid gold". One affectionate version of the word "pivo" is "piveèko" or little beer - but be careful - it has nothing to do with the size of the glass.

And that's it for this week, I'm afraid. Next time we'll look at the letter "C" which in our series stands for all things Czech. Until then it's goodbye.


See also Living Czech.