Editors’ Picks: Světlé Pivo

Czech lager’s simplicity is deceptive; there is much more to it than Saaz hops, pils malt, and soft water. Here are five favorites that combine ample character with exquisite balance and supreme drinkability.

Craft Beer & Brewing Staff Jan 29, 2022 - 3 min read

Editors’ Picks: Světlé Pivo Primary Image

Photos from left: Joe Stange(2); jamie Bogner; Joe Stange; Jamie Bogner

Břevnovský Benedict 12°

The aroma is what draws you into Benedict while setting this beer apart from its peers—sweet, floral notes like nettles and chamomile. In the flavor, those floral notes join a more classic spicy and firm bitterness, cushioned by a sweetish, satisfying malt body that shouldn’t be this hard to stop drinking.
ABV: 5% IBUs: 40 Loc: Prague

Únětické Pivo 10° Nefiltrované

In Prague, it pays to watch for the little green sign that means draft beer from Únětický Pivovar. This lighter lager is unfiltered; the touch of diacetyl becomes comforting once you acquire the taste. Slender malt richness joins ample bitterness, and a dry finish resets the palate. The 12° is every bit as good.
ABV: 4% Loc: Únětice, Czech Republic

Pilsner Urquell

This gigantic brewery with global presence and a key role in beer history really does triple decoct its flagship and then lager some in wooden vessels. It happens to be a fantastic beer—physically gorgeous, deep gold, lighter than it tastes, with no-nonsense bitterness and an almost tobacco-like spicy hop presence, barely softened by light residual sweetness.
ABV: 4.4% IBUs: 40 Loc: Plzeň, Czech Republic

Matuška Dvanáctka

Any beers from Matuška are worth trying; locally, they’re better known for hop-forward pale ales and IPAs. This more classically formed pale lager uses traditional methods but has a lean-and-clean profile that’s closer to American tastes. It also brings extra oomph in the form of genuine bitterness and satisfying heft. Wonderful via side-pull.
ABV: 5.1% IBUs: 40 Loc: Broumy, Czech Republic

Live Oak Pilz

As Czech as you can get in Texas—spicy, bitterish, and smooth. Many U.S. brewers add Saaz hops and say “Bohemian” or “Czech-style,” but few of those beers taste this convincing or are half as addictive. Maybe it’s the decoctions, the Moravian malt, the horizontal lagering—or maybe it’s just the attention to detail by brewers who love to drink this beer as much as we do.
ABV: 4.7% IBUs: 36 Loc: Austin