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The News You've All Been Waiting For

When I published the second edition of the Guide, the plan was to wait a year or two and start working on a third edition, or at least an update, but it didn’t take me long to give up on the idea. I simply didn’t want to do the job without anyone paying me for it, especially considering the boom of “Craft Beer” bars – all of which seem to follow the template of too many taps with expensive, trendy beer styles from the same bunch of breweries. On top of that, I wanted to cut down on my boozing and I thought it’d be better to spend the limited time and money I had going to places that I knew and liked instead of new places that may not be that good, all for the sake of a vanity project.

People – not many, only a few, but people nonetheless – kept asking me about it, if there was going to be a third edition, and my answer was always a resolute ‘No’. But one day, chatting with a friend, I confessed to her that I would do it if I could find a new twist for it. That twist materialised in my…
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Pivní Filosof in Norway Part II - Let's Get Brewing

On Wednesday morning, the ghosts of the previous evening’s Kveik haunted every room of our house and there was no open window that could drive them away. After breakfast we all tacitly agreed on going outside, closing the door behind us, making me feel almost of Cortázar’s short story “House Taken Over”. Not that we minded, we all marvelled at the sight of the water in the fjord covered in fog while the sky above was completely clear.

Sigurd came for us shortly after, at nine. He had woken up much earlier, though, to the get juniper infusion going. When we arrived at his place, the cellar was warm and smelled lovely. The infusion was cooking in a 150 l copper pot on top of a wood burning stove. Sigurd explained us that it needed to reach about 95°C before anything could be done with it, and that other than feeding the fire and checking the temperature every now and again, there was nothing to do, at least in the cellar.
Certain that it would still take awhile to reach the required te…

PIvní Filosof in Norway. Part I - Juniper and Tasting

It all begun one afternoon in early June, when I got a call from Milan Starec (a.k.a Květak), from Černokostelecký pivovár, asking if I wanted to help him with project that could get a grant from the Norwegian government. Its purpose, he explained, was to establish partnerships between Czech and Norwegian people who practice traditional trades and crafts. Naturally, Milan wanted to focus it around beer and brewing. I told him I’d love to and that I knew of someone who could help us.

Immediately after finishing the call, I sent a message to Lars Marius, a beer writer from Norway, author of a great blog on farmhouse ales from his native country and beyond and a couple of books, too. He gave me the contact so Sigurd Johan Saure, who runs Kveik Training. His family has been brewing with Kveik (or Jæst, as it’s called in the local dialect) for many generations (Sigurd remembers helping his grand father and uncle when he was a child, at the very same farm where he lives, and teaches, today)…

Stone Berlin's Failure Shouldn't Surprise Anyone

Joe “Thirsty Pilgrim” Stange, writing for Good Beer Hunting, goes behind the headlines with an insightful story on the failure of Stone Berlin, reviewing, among other things, the difficulties the California based brewing company faced when putting together their brewery in the German capital.

Though there’s no doubt that the delays and unexpected costs contributed its ultimate fate (and I sympathise Koch’s frustration with the builders), I believe that, even if everything had gone according to plan (which hardly ever does), the enterprise was doomed for the simple reason that it had arrived way too late. Let me explain.

The first time I head about Stone’s plans to set up shop in Europe was ten years ago – and it’s possible that even Berlin was being mentioned then. To put it into perspective, this was a time when Brew Dog was still using their first brewery and their Punk bullshit was taken seriously by not few; a time when De Molen, Meantime, Nøgne Ø, Birrificio del Ducato, and Cíbel…

The Reason I Haven't Had a Drop of Beer in the Last Three Weeks and Counting

A tooth, one motherfucking tooth.

Health, fortunately, had never been something I’d ever had to worry. The only serious disease I’d suffered was pneumonia, when I was 10 (how I got it is itself a funny story). Since then, other than the very occasional flu and those “feeling a bit under the weather” things, I’d always been healthy. At 47 now, I was fit, active, I’d never been a smoker, I ate well, I didn’t have weight issues, and I had even cut down a little on the boozing because, well, I’m not getting any younger and I decided that if I wanted to keep on enjoying my beer in the years to come, I had better slow down a bit. And despite all that, that motherfucking tooth almost sends me to an early grave.

It all started on Tuesday, September 18. I woke up feeling a bit dodgy; nothing that I couldn’t get rid of taking the day off and resting, I thought. There was a mild pain around the earlobe , but I didn’t pay too much attention to it, I believed it was just another symptom of whateve…

A Tale of Nice Weather and a Couple of Dodgy Beers

The weather was nice and I was in a good mood, the kind of good mood that makes you want to go for a walk, which is exactly what I did after taking care of an errand in Vysočany.

My goal, as I strolled along Park Podviní, was to have a cheap lunch with Svijany at U Rokytky, but before that I thought it’d be good to stop for a quick one at Pivovar Kolčavka.

Lately I’d heard several people slagging this brewpub. I hadn’t been there for awhile, at least a year, but their beers, though never memorable, had always been on the good side of average, in particular their 11° Světlý Ležák, which had had never disappointed. Until today.

When I walked in and headed to the bar, a waitress/tapstress was juggling three mugs under the tap of Jedenátcka, which was foaming more than the mouth of a rabid dog chewing a bar of soap. By virtue of standing there and watching her, I got the first mug to be filled at an adequate level, which I took outside.

The beer looked awful, or maybe trendy? It was as if…

A Few Easter Beers in Písek

As we’ve been doing the last few years, we spent Easter with relatives, in Strakonice. On Saturday, we went to Tábor, an uninteresting town beewise*, but I loved it nonetheless. The old town is charming, full of narrow, twisting alleys where one can get happily lost, and the main square is gorgeous.

On Sunday, we headed to Písek, a very nice town for a day trip. It was our third trip there; the first one had been a few years before, also at Easter, and the second, last year in summer. This time, what brought us was the permanent exhibition for children at the old malthouse, which my daughter really wanted to see.

As we were getting ready for the trip, I remembered that last year, in autumn, a brewpub had opened and I volunteered to stay with Isis, our bitch (he!), while the girls were in the exhibition.

Pisecký Hradební Pivovar is located in an urban nook near the town’s main square, in what remains of the old city walls. The entrance is through a corridor that leads to a park in the…