The history of the Premonstrat canonry at Strahov is very old and is connected to the monastery, founded in 1140. The first written notes are from 1400 when the brewery was rented, for 4 three-score of pepper and fat rabbit, yearly to the Lesser Town burgess Petr. The brewery, leased by Abbot Jan and Prior Zikmund, was located in the enclosure, and it was not the only one the canonry possessed. The second brewery was in the vineyard under the monastery. During the Hussite Wars, both breweries were damaged, along with the monastery. The brewing rights were reestablished in 1515 by Vladislav Jagelon and, in 1591, repeatedly confirmed by the Emperor Rudolf II. In 1622, the Emperor Ferdinand II reconfirmed them again. In 1629, the Abbot Kašpar Qeustenberk decided to construct a new brewery. This brewery was in the same place as today’s brewery. The contract on construction was concluded on July 31st, 1629, with the court masonry master M. Meere and carpenter master Hans Tach. In 1635 and 1646, the brewery did not brew for different reasons. In the last year of the Thirty Year’s war, the brewery served the occupational Swedish army, which left it significantly damaged in 1648. The renovation took until 1659. The brewery brewed until 1697, when it got damaged by a fire. The reconstruction ended in 1699. The reconstruction was done by the carpenter master Melichr Hochenadl in cooperation with an unknown masonry master. In 1759, the cooking room was also repaired. In 1871 – 1875, a wholesome reconstruction and replacement of the entire furnishing, including the cooking room, took place. In 1903, the brewery still demonstrably worked and was registered on the list of breweries in Austria-Hungary. The renter and brewer Jan Řezníček brewed 1842 hl of beer in the 1905-1906 season here. But at the latest in 1919, the brewery was closed and reconstructed into apartments. In 1959 – 1963, the vault in the west part of the building was torn down and a part of the building was rebuilt into a big hall with a stage designed as a test room for the Army Art Ensemble. According to the plan from 1961, the former carriage room was changed into storage. In 1993, another reconstruction started, which was terminated, though unfinished, one year later. The last reconstruction started on July 10th 2000. The LEV-CZ joint stock company successfully finished the reconstruction in the middle of 2001. The building was changed into a restaurant with the capacity of 1000 seats. As the last change, in May 2001 the former carriage room was changed into a micro brewery with 1000 hl capacity of beer yearly. The first batch was brewed on June 6th, 2001, on the holiday of the patron of the Premonstrates, St. Norbert.
Karel Altman in his beautiful book " Zlatá doba štamgastů pražských hospod“ (Golden times of the barflies of Prague’s pubs) writes the following: Also, the tiny pub on the courtyard of the Strahov Monastery was one of the typical old Prague pubs, famous sometimes in the 70'ies of the 19th century thanks to its innkeeper, called Krobián. The poet Antonín Klášterský, who with the writer Ignát Herman visited this place almost 12 years later during his wandering in Prague, and he described the place in his memorials: “It was only one room with two or three tables. Four men played cards by one of the tables, maybe sacristans, and otherwise there was nobody besides us. Outside was a tough winter and the innkeeper kept adding wood in the clay stove. I often think of that evening. It did not seem like we are in Prague, but somewhere very far beyond the world, not even in our century, but somewhere far earlier.
The far most famous of Prague’s churls was that called only Krobián (Churl). His real name was Václav Mašek and he lived from 1807 – 1874 and he was a Prague burgess, original occupation cooper master in the Smíchov’s brewery. He famed as a churl innkeeper in the Premoster brewery at Strahov, where he worked as the innkeeper for many tens of years and wherefrom he became known not only in his closest surroundings, but throughout all of Prague.
The Strahov Monastic brewery was one of the very small enterprises of its kind; in the 60'ies and 70'ies of the 19th century, they brewed only so much beer to satisfy the needs of the monks from the monastery and their deputies. The monastery kept the brewery in its own economics for many years and only later rented it. The cooper master Krobián not only drafted the beer but also brewed it himself. He was the Old brewer and “sub-old” at the same time and he used to have some apprentice as a helper. Besides the brewing works, his services were used also by the monastery cellars; he took care of the wine stock and he served them on the table during banquets - the stories claim them as happening very often, especially under Abbot Ziedler.
Krobián also served the beer at noon and in the evening in the beer salon to the brewer band and to the monastery deputies - besides others, also the boarderers of the hospital at Pohořelec, monastery servants and pensioners, to whom this shelter provided the life-time protection or at least residence. The cooper master did not fiddle-faddle them at all and he behaved the same in the beer salon or in his own pub. The churling behavior became his habit and second nature, he was not any different amongst his own or in the monastery amongst the priests – he knew how to answer when they tried to tease him. The writer Ladislav Kukla characterized Strahov’s churl in short as the peevish innkeeper, who “did not serve even a millionaire without immediate payment, who constantly argued with guests, swore and kicked them out of the pub…., but people were flooding the pub simply for his churl behavior.”
The Krobián’s pubs was described also by Ignat Herrmann in the story book Drobní lidé, where two friends head from Prague on a trip to Bílá Hora, to the famous Hvezda Summer Palace, where the pub of the Strahov Monastery was right on their way, starting in several famous beer pubs. The question of one of them was, “what is Václav Mašek, known as Krobián, like?” The second answered: “he is very original! You must see him. Let’s go! Hvezda will not escape!” They went to see Krobian, the innkeeper known throughout all of Prague, and they set down in the little garden in the monastery yard. The beer was not here as good as before By Tomas or Na Vikárce, but it was fun: “They talked and watched the wide but goody face of old Mašek and laughed at his various churl behavior towards the guests."
There were many stories about Strahov’s master Mašek, usually very witty. For example, the one how once upon a time he twisted the tail of one respectable shoe master from New Prague Town, who lived for a long time in Vienna, where he gained his not only too rampant self confidence, but also the known Vienna-German dialect with which he liked to pride himself so often. This jovial shoe maker decided to tease Krobián and, therefore, he came with his wife to his Strahov pub and started: „Bin á Frender, gib es hiar beim Grobian?“ Krobián did not hesitate and courtly answered: „ Bitte gleich neben.“ He bowed and gladly showed to both spouses the way to the certain room which is always in corridors of the pubs…
If a guest asked for a pitcher of a good beer, he answered only: “I do not have that”. And when the guest understood and asked what beer he did have, he said laconically but forcefully: “Strahov beer”. The beer he brewed.
Once, a certain educated gentleman accompanied by a Lady stopped for refreshment after visiting the Strahov Library, and, of course, he was very surprised by the environment in the pub, because being a gentle intellectual detached from the Prague pub life, he did not know the habits of this innkeeper. “Something to eat, we are hungry.” He asked Krobián, who placed in front of him, without asking, a pitcher of beer and one glass. “Where would I get something? I am hungry myself.” Answered Krobián gruffly. The foreign man froze. And when he noticed that the innkeeper put on the table only one glass for both of them, he asked for a second one for his wife and he got a similar answer: “If you have enough pot space for that other thing, you must be fine with one glass for a beer!”
When a hungry or thirsty guest entered the pub door, Strahov's Krobián usually welcomed him with these words: “What the hell brings you here?”.
The true face of Krobián from Strahov, Master Mašek, shows also the story with the actor Jindřich Mošna. The genial comic of the National Theatre, and the same great comedian amongst his friends in various Prague pubs, beer bars and delicatessen once decided to tease the legendary Krobián and he even bet that he would beat the rude innkeeper in his churliness and, in addition, make him look stupid. Mošna put his hands under his coat and pretended to have no hands. Like this, he crippled in the pub and, pretending to be a cripple, he begged the innkeeper to provide him various services. And he came up with the truth only when he asked for help in the bathroom. The rough joke got the attention of many, and the story quickly ran through all of Prague, because Mošna’s friends spread it very fast. Krobián, in reality a very sensitive and good person, did not like that joke and he considered it an offense towards cripples. Anytime somebody mentioned it, he criticized the habit to joke about these poor people.
The cooper master Václav Mašek remained Krobián until his last moments. In autumn 1874, Mašek got ill, but he did not want to see a doctor. “They know nothing.” He answered, in his rough manners, the requests of his wife to allow her to bring the doctor. He gruffly remained on his bed, not answering at all his prudent wife and his children. A visit from an old friend could not make him happy either, and he only growled: “Such a barley-cup, why the hell does not he have anything better to do than wander to foreign apartments? Tell him to go to do something better and leave me alone.” But that was not the worst. Finally, he got much worse and, despite his protests, the friend doctor from the Hradčany Institute for Noblewomen came to see him. And it was him who had to tell his family that his days are over. This was another, this time the last, difficult test for his closest. Krobián did not allow a visit by any Father, not even the most jovial one whom he recognized from Strahov. “Go hang!” he whispered in a barely audible voice, and he confirmed his will by turning to the wall. These were his last words, because shortly thereafter he died.