Visit the Pencil & Spoon site

We’re underground. Possibly as deep as 12m. It’s less than 7°C. We are just a short way into the 19km of cellars, somewhere amid the 32,000m² of tunnels. It’s dark and cold. There’s a mineral cleanliness to the air, the air which hangs still. The cobbled floors are wet, the white walls are damp, the ceiling arches high above us. Every crossroad of tunnels leads off in new directions, visible only for a few metres before it fades to black. A map shows us the full network, an unbelievable snaking myriad of channels carved out of the rock. We try and work out how far they stretch under the city; what landmarks they lay dormant beneath. How many men have worked down here? What was the beer they made like? What stories can they tell? Our guide is leading the way but we’re only following in a strange not-quite-concentrating kind of way, our legs moving but our minds filled with wonder and awe, open-mouthed like school boys who have just seen the T-Rex at the Natural History Museum. It’s when we pass by the giant oak casks that we all stop and stare. Magnificent and grand, blackened by time, they run along the sides of the cellars, stacked two high, filled with beer, just waiting. I silently say ‘wow’ and a cloud of breath disperses in front of me. Around another corner and the cellar is stacked with casks on both sides, maybe 40 casks in total around us. Two dark figures wait in the middle, slightly hunched. They start pouring beer as we arrive by them, serving them charmlessly without even a hint of a smile. Beer in hand, we pass through the narrow corridor between the barrels and into another cellar where we stop briefly, looking back to where we were served, like the ultimate beer theatre. It’s here, in the cellars underneath Pilsner Urquell brewery, that I have the most incredible drinking experience of my life so far. The beer is unfiltered and unpasteurised and it’s come straight from the oak barrel. We’re deep underground, it’s cold and mesmerising; the stories that this place could tell are haunting. The beer is a cloudy gold with a chunky white foam. It’s unbelievably smooth and rich, there’s a slight sweetness to begin and a herbal, dry bitterness to finish. It’s perfect. It’s unlike anything else I’ve had before. It’s undoubtedly one of the best drinking experiences in the world.

Does anywhere compare with this? Is there a better drinking experience? What’s the most amazing beer experience you’ve had?

The map of the cellars. The tour only walks around a tiny block in the middle, which you can just make out as the white lines are thicker with wear from fingers tracing our route.