1 Jun 2009

Czech Beer Festival 2009, a balance

The Czech Beer Festival 2009 finished yesterday. I only went once after all, the first day. I had planned to go during the weekend, but the was way too crappy to go all the way to Letňany. So these conclusions are based mostly on comments and e-mails I received and the conversations I had with people that were at the event.

As in eveything there were posstive things and negative things, let's see:

The possitive:

- The beer list, much larger than last year, it was impressive.
- Including micros. It showed that this year the organisers worked with people who know about beer.
- The food offer. Also larger than last year. I liked the idea of each tent having their own menus. Quality, though, wasn't all that uniform and prices... well, I will get to them later.
- The service. Once it did start working after the embarrasing first 90 minutes it was very good, though, as someone commented, it would have been nice to see how they coped with a full tent.

The negative:

- The venue. Horrible. No atmosphere, far from the centre, ugly. I'm sure the organisers had very good reasons to choose it (price?), but I do believe they should consider holding the festival at a nicer place next year.
- The price of much of the food. 80CZK for a bowl of soup?!? That is a rip off.
- The weather during much of the festival. The organisers aren't to blame here, but the rain didn't help and the mud and the puddles made the venue still uglier.

The question:

Why doesn't the festival have official sponsorship?

Prague Food Festival has among many of its sponsors the City of Prague and Czech Tourism. Fancy food can have official support, but beer can't. I would really like to know if this is due to a fault from the organisers or some snobbery on the part of the authorities. Otherwise, I can't understand it. Beer is the national drink and is deeply rooted in Czech culture. A beer festival might not have the culinary sophisticaton of the high end restaurants that took part in the Prague Food Festival, but which do you think is more likely to bring in foreign tourist?

I would also like to know how many people attended this year. The festival was better promoted this time, entrance was free and quite a bit of expectation had built up. I would bet that a lot more than the 25 thousand of last year, but then again, I was only once.

The balance for the second edition of Czech Beer Festival is, I think, possitive. I only have one small piece of advice to give the organisers. Stop comparing your festival with Oktoberfest, find your own identity. Stricktly beerwise, the Czech festival is far superior than the Bavarian; the atmosphere, well, that's another thing. The one in Munich has almost 200 years of history and is a major event in the Europena tourist calendar. This one in Prague isn't yet, though, with a few teaks here and there, it could certainly become so.

Na Zdraví!

Choose a Hotel in Prague in the city centre.

4 comments:

  1. Max, comparing it with oktoberfest helps people to understand what it is about:)

    Food - there were twice a day "happy hours' - 50% discount which made it very reasonable priced.

    Place - where else would you put six big tents and so many people in one place. and as I wrote last time, they were supposed to be three and three in two lines. As for the airport nex to it, they had to make last minute change...

    it is difficult to compare food and beer here - beeris taken here as a cheap alcohol still after those years. Food can people already accept as something special...

    honza, svetpiva.cz

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  2. I know why they compare it to Oktorberfest, but I would like the festival to find an identity of its own, more akin to a true beer festival instead of a drunkards festival as Oktoberfest seems to be now.

    50% discount for the food would really make it very reasonably priced, but the full price for some of the things was really outrageous.

    The beer in general wasn't cheap either, but you don't see me complaining about that.

    As for the place. Last year it was in Holešovice and it was a lot nicer. Granted, most tents didn't have a kitchen, which does take a lot of space, but the location had a lot more atmosphere than this one.

    I really don't know if there is anywhere else in Prague that isn't too far that can accommodate those big tents. But even if the tents had been set in two rows, Letňany is still ugly.

    Anyway, as I say the balance is really possitive and I am 100% sure next year will be even better, and I'm already looking forward to it.

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  3. According to today's MF Dnes paper the organizers like the place in Letnany a lot and plan to keep the festival there. They also plan a fun fair for children next year (The noise from the carousel next to the micros tent was annoying this year already.)

    link (will not work tomorrow): http://zpravy.idnes.cz/mfdnes.asp?v=127&r=mfpraha&c=1200429

    I dunno, this kind of festival seems a bit unfortunate to me.

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  4. Well, I guess we will have to get used to the venue, then.

    Last year there also was a fun fair for kids, but was far enough from most tents as not to be an annoyance.

    Today in Trip Advisor I read a "report" from someone who was last week in Prague and went to the festival almost every day. He was very, very happy with everything.

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