Say na zdravi (that’s Czech for cheers!) (photo: included)

I pour my first beer at the Budvar State Brewery in the medieval Bohemian town of České Budějovice, well supervised by a man who looks like comedian Tim Key and, well, he seems to be enjoying a pint or five. an evening.

“Make a show of it, move the glass gracefully,” he says as I rinse off the already immaculate jug. “People need to know they can trust you to serve a good pint.”

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Holding the thick-bottomed glass under the mouthpiece, I turn on the tap to fill it halfway with white foam, then quickly turn it back to release amber, clear lager. It’s quite a snyt – the Czech name for a lager that’s two-thirds creamy foam.

Beer seeps through every pore of Czech life. It comes in the form of pedal-powered drinking bottles that cruise the streets of Prague, there are beer spas where you can drink pints in a tub of the stuff, and Praha Drinking Team souvenir sweatshirts to wear for the hoppy, oops, happy memories to take home.

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Rick learned how to throw the perfect snyt (Picture: Included)

Budvar brewery in Ceske Budejovice

At the Budvar brewery in Ceske Budejovice (photo: delivered)

Visitors should be aware of various superstitions and etiquette: in a sort of semaphore on a bar stool, hitting a beer mat in front of you signals “one more, please”; In the meantime, if you put it on your glass, it indicates that you have had enough. The evenings are punctuated by calls of “Na zdravi”, which you exclaim as you maintain that all-important eye contact with your companions – for seven years of good sex.

Until recently, this seemed to be a male-dominated pastime, taking place in dark wooden monastic halls like Prague’s U Fleku, where a tweed-clad accordionist serenades me.

Steak Tartare Budvar Brewery in Ceske Budejovice

The bar snacks are also something very special (photo: included)

Regulars are established regulars – mainly gray men who meet in bars every day. “It’s still a man’s world, but more and more women are coming,” says 32-year-old Johana Potuznikova, who is training as a beer master at Budvar. “Not only drinking beer, but also making and tapping.”

She shares her expertise with many of the craft breweries that pop up, pointing out Monopol’s sister brews, Trilobit and Proud, which make variations of IPAs, unfiltered lagers, ales and porters.

I drink a Proud beer – somewhere between a lager and an IPA – at Manifesto Andel, a new food court forged from shipping containers in a once seedy neighborhood on the Danube’s left bank.

I continue my pub crawl, past the new face of Prague beer culture at Dva Kohouti in the Karlin district, where beers are listed on a cinema-style billboard. In the lectern, young chef Jirka Horak reinvents Czech beer cuisine with dishes of pickled carp and beef stew on crusty bread.

Well, don’t forget to look your fellow drinkers in the eye…