18 Aug 2009

Sometimes less is better

U Radnice is a hospoda that has gone through many changes in the last two years or so. When I first went there, they were still tapping beers from the now defunct Pivovar Podkovaň. After circumstances forced them to seek a new supplier, they started with Svijany and Rohozec, only to switch to Krakonoš after some time, which in turn was briefly replaced by Kout na Šumavě. Now it seems that they have settled for Konrad as their supplier. It seems that even the name has changed, according to their webpage (another new thing), the restaurant is now called U Šuvinky, something that isn't all that clear because nobody has bothered to remove the signs with the old(?) name.

I hadn't visited this Žižkov pub for quite some time, and if it hadn't been by an email from Derrick, one of my readers in England, I wouldn't have known about the minifestival of Moravian micros they were holding. Since I wasn't very familiar with some of the breweries listed, I went as soon as I had the chance.

Nowadays U Radnice has nine taps. On the day of my visit most of them seemed to be taken by those Moravian craft beers. I would love to be able to speak more at length about them. I had three, two that I had never drunk before, Třinec Kvasnicvá 12° y Qásek Hobbit, and one that I knew quite well, Hukvaldy Polotm. 14°. Not a single one of them was in good shape. The first two were turning sour already and the third tasted "tired".

I left rather unhappy, and if it hadn't been for other things that were in the pipeline, I would have posted about this before going back to U Radnice.

I hadn't planned it, but I was in the neighbourhood and had plenty of time in my hands, so I though I would just drop by and see what they were tapping. I ordered two beers, both of them known, Kopřivnice Uhlo and Pegas Světlý Ležák, once again, both were in bad shape. Actually, the only beer I had in both visits that tasted fresh was Sv. Florian, from Loket, and only because I was lucky to be at the moment they were tapping the keg.

What is the point of having so many craft brews if one third of them, at least, will not be in good conditions?

Don't get me wrong. I really welcome pubs that expand their offer, more so when that involves craft beers. But that is something that should be done with sense.

For better or worse, pretty much all Czech craft beers from micros have no conditioning whatsoever. Kegs and bottles are filled pretty much straight from the lagering tanks. They are quite delicate, don't have a very long life and once the keg is tapped, you'd better sell it as quickly as possible. Some people might blame the brewers for this, but the fact is that these beers are created to be drunk as fresh as possible, better if it is at their source. Anyone who knows a bit about beer is aware of this and takes the appropriate measures.

Another thing that could improve at U Radnice is the service. During my second visit, one of the patrons fancied buying two bottles of Veklý Rybník, and took them from the bar. At a place with good service, the bartender would have offered bottles from the fridge, explaining that they are fresher and will likely taste better. Not here. The bartender took the client's money and waited until he had left to take two bottles from the fridge and put them on the bar. In what shape those beers were, I'd rather not know.

All this doesn't do anyone any good. Starting with the restaurant itself. Prague is a small town and word gets around really fast, specially among beer geeks. Maybe they should reduce the offer for some time in order to assure a higher turnover of kegs, oh! And they should train the staff a bit better as well.

Na Zdraví!

Choose your preferred Prague hotels and get free transport.

8 comments:

  1. Ahoj, Pivní Filosofe! Jmenuju se Jegor, jsem z Ruska. Myslím, že vůbec nepamatujete na mne, ale seznamili jsme se s vámi před 2 roky ve Svijanském ujezdě během pivních slavností! Nahodou jsem našel váš blog a rád ho čtu. Chtěl bych vám poblahopřát k včerejším narozeninam! Promiňte, že píšu sem. Doufám, že se uvidíme někdy v Praze! Na Zdraví!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Člověčé, samožrejmě že se na tebe pamatuju! Dík za vzkaz a přani. Dej vědět az budeš v Praze.
    (I most sincerely apologise for my abismal spelling in Czech)

    ReplyDelete
  3. And what does all this mean in English?

    ReplyDelete
  4. (GeauxT)If Podkovan has gone under, why is it available here in Richmond, VA? I had some recently; was this a very (past 3-4 months)recent demise for Podkovan? Cheers!

    ReplyDelete
  5. Really?!?! That is quite surprising.

    To be honest, the brewery is still listed in Pivovary.info and their webpage is still active. A couple of years ago, I think, it was reported that the brewery would close down for a few months due to renovations, a reopening was never announced and the beers have vanished from all shops that I know of.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Yeah U Radnice is all over the place recently, i liked the staff a few months ago, but havent been for a while. Lets hope they up their game, but Konrad as supplier doesnt bode well.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Went to check it out once this summer and also wasn't too impressed. For one thing the beer costs something like 35kc? Which considering the place and the fact that most of these beers are cheaper than the big breweries is really out of hand. Then a friend came in and asked for a beer, and the waitress was all What kind? to which he responded 'desitka' and the waitress triumphantly declared 'tu nemame'. Like ohhhkay. I appreciate what they're doing but you don't have to act like an ass when somebody comes into your dive and doesn't realise that they're in a fancy brewpub all of the sudden. I tried about four of the different beers and wasn't very happy with any of them, which was odd because I'll give anything a little bit new in the taste department a chance.

    ReplyDelete
  8. 35CZK for a pint of a craft brew is not too much to pay. You'll find it pretty much at the same prices at Zly Casy.

    The thing is that many micros will sell their beers at retail price, or a bit less, even if it's another pub that wants to buy it. So you have that someone from the pub has to go all the way to the source and pay, say 20-25CZK per pint. When you consider that, 35Kc is pretty reasonable.

    That Loket I had cost me 45Kc a pint. Pricey, yes, but it's the same price you'll pay at the brewery if I'm not wrong.

    ReplyDelete