Fil and I took the bus from Pilsen to visit a new brewery called U Bizona (The Bison) in the village of Čižice. Only by the time we showed up at the door, the brewery was out of their own beer, offering instead the shameful Gambrinus 10° Svetly. Even if house beer were available, the front room was opaque with a thick fog of cigarette smoke.
Fil said “This sucks” and we promptly left.
It was 12 km further to reach Dobřany and promises of beer from Modrá Hvězda, only we had no means of transportation other than our feet. Fil did his best to talk a local boy into talking someone he knew into driving us, but it proved to be a worthless endeavour once we learned that nobody with a car was in town at the time. 12 km is a long way to go by foot, but long walks are meditative, and promises of beer after meeting a challenge is motivation enough. We made quick work of the first 3 km to Štěnovice, where we found the only establishment open in the afternoon – a bakery. Nothing could be more perfect. We took full advantage of it, consuming coffee, confections, grabbing a bottle of polotmavý for take-away from the mini fridge. That’s about as good as it gets while walking long distances town to town.
Making our way through streets and parks and across waterways to reach the western edge of Štěnovice, population 1,565, we see a blue road sign that reads,
“Dobřany 10 km”
Our enthusiasm for the walk receives a gut check.
I throw up a thumb at the first car to come by, and they stop immediately. It feels like it worked too well. I had searched online about hitchhiking before leaving on this trip to the Czech Republic, just in case it became necessary. Prevailing thought at the time was that the Czechs were okay with it, but that it was not commonplace. With our driver and his infant son in the front seat, we climbed into the back to make quick work of the last 9 km to Dobřany. When he attempts small talk we mention the pivovar and his eyes light up and his smile widens. Never doubt the power of beer in the Czech Republic.
He drops us in the central square of Dobřany and we immediately walk into Modrá Hvězda, a large hotel-brewery-restaurant pouring seven different taps.
Modrá Hvězda Dobřany
The 16° Dobřansky Dragoun, a sort-of Polotmavy bock, was an especially rich, crusty Czech malt experience, and worthy of filling a PET bottle, the eastern block growler, to take back to our friend Ryan in Pilsen for Thanksgiving the next day – the same Thanksgiving I took a train to Franconia and got stopped by the narcs.