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A Philosopher in the League of Extraordinary Pissheads

Although I understand the value they can have for the brewers (and their marketing people), it’s been my opinion for quite some time that, as far as the experience of the consumer goes, beer competitions, even the most prestigious ones, have fuck-all relevance. My experience judging competitions in the last couple of years (as much fun as they have been) not only has failed to change my views, it has reinforced them.

There’s one exception, though, První Pivní Extraliga. Unlike other competitions, the samples to be evaluated are not carefully selected (or even specially brewed) and sent by the breweries, they are procured at supermarkets and shops. This means that they may not be very fresh and may have even suffered some sort of abuse or another. In other words, they are beers we actually drink and not an idealised version thereof. The main competition, Světlý Ležák in half-litre glass bottles, also rewards consistency. The winner will have to be successful competing against other nin…
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Two Announcements and a Quick Comment

After much pondering and musing, I’ve decided that there won’t be a third edition of the Pisshead’s Pub Guide. The main reason being that I can’t be arsed. I realised that, like with the second edition, a new edition would need an almost whole re-write, which that’s a lot more work that I’m willing to do at the moment, especially since it would involve visiting at least a big chunk of the many Craft Pivní Bary that have opened, which, at a cursory glance, seem to follow the model of too many taps and overpriced beers. However, regardless of my preferences (and prejudices), they’re becoming an increasingly large part of the local beer landscape and, if I wanted the guide to showcase Prague’s scene as well as the previous two editions have, I would have to give them a go – and, once again, I can’t be arsed. Right now, I don’t feel like going out for beers to places I feel I may not like only for the sake of what is not much more than a vanity project. If I go for beers I want to do it m…

On Prices and an Impulse Purchase

There I was the other day, approaching the stand Letající Chroust had at the farmers market in Jiřího z Poděbrad. I was in the kind of good mood you get after having five pints and a fun chat at the pub. My intention was to get some of their Světlý Ležák (Czechs believe that, since we have two legs, you shouldn’t drink in odd numbers and I’m in no position to defy popular wisdom). As the girl as the stand poured it (the beer was really solid, BTW), I noticed a bottle of Černé Cucu, a Barley Wine with black currant Letající Chroust brewed with Pivovar Zichovec, and told the girl that I wanted one.

My heart might have skipped half a beat when I was told the price, 180 CZK, but I was in the kind of good mood you get after having five pints and a fun chat at the pub and I took it. On the way home, however, I wondered whether that wasn’t too much of a 0.75l bottle of domestic beer?

I know I’ve been nagging a lot about prices lately, but I want to make clear that I have nothing against exp…

Train + Brewery + Bus + Brewery + Bus + 2Brewery = Great Day

When I was blogging for the Prague Post, I wrote a piece about microbreweries outside Prague that could be easily reached by public transport. It included Berounský Medvěd, Starokladenský Pivovar and Antoš Slaný, which, I suggested, could be all visited in one day, without having to travel back forth to Prague. I’d been wanting to do that trip ever since, I even planned it a few times, but, for some reason or another, I had to put it off; until the other day.

The family was away, I had been able to finish a couple of jobs ahead of schedule and I suddenly found myself with an entire day free! I opened idos.cz to check bus and train schedules, especially between the three towns, allowing also for a fourth brewery, Továrna, in Slaný. It was very doable; if I started early in Beroun, I could be having the last beer in Slaný by the mid-afternoon. I had a plan.

I took the S4 train leaving at 9:17 from Hlavní Nádraží. I thought of taking the express train to Pilsen that leaves a few minutes …

Patented Musings

A couple of months ago, some of the beer personalities I follow on Facebook shared and urged to sign this petition against Patents on Beer and Barley. The text raised a couple red flags that made me doubt the claims of the initiators the petition and prompted me to look further.

The first that thing bothered me was the use of “greedy corporations” to describe Heineken and Carlsberg (H&C), the owners of the patents. Regardless of what you or I may think about these companies and other large corporations, I’ve come to associate this language with people who will not appeal to rational and fact-based arguments to get the public on their side, but to our emotions and natural confirmation bias and cognitive dissonance. That wouldn’t have been such a problem if the whole text of the petition wasn’t so disingenuous. They say:
Barley, brewing and beer are all old and well known traditions, which anybody can use. Nevertheless the European Patent Office (EPO) has granted patents to Heineken…

A Family Trip to South Bohemia (II)

We drove straight to Český Krumlov after the missus, happy with the way her meeting had turned out, picked us up in Prachatice and we arrived at the hotel shortly before five.

After checking-in and checking our e-mails, we headed to the centre walking up the lane that went past the hotel. It led us to one of the back entrances of the palace gardens, which was very convenient since the way would go all downhill from there (in the most literal sense).

The gardens are gorgeous, and were quite empty. It wouldn’t be until we were getting to the buildings of the palace proper that we started seeing more tourists. It wasn’t as bad as I had feared, fortunately. Perhaps the day-tripping herds were already back on their buses.

It was in the palace complex where the first beer in Krumlov was had, more specifically, at Občerstvení na Vyhlídce, a kiosk on one of the lookouts to the city. It was Eggenberg 10°. Very good, it wasn’t, but it did the job. What I would like to know for sure is if it …

Regarding Today's Date

I care about IPA Day as much as I care about any other Marketing Driven Day or Month, which is even less than I care about the results of the Costa Rican Basketball League, but since we're on the topic, there's something I want to tell Czech micro (and not so micro) brewers (which I'm sure applies in other countries, too):

If for whatever reason you aren't able to procure good-quality, fresh enough hops, don't fucking bother to brew a beer that is supposed to be hop-forward. Sod the fashion and have a go at the dozens of other styles that aren't hop-forward. Everyone without a Pokemon mentality who enjoys drinking good beer instead of going after the latest novelty so they can get another badge in Untappd will be grateful.

That's it.

Na Zdraví!