Tweet Just in case some of you still don't know about it. I'm a beer journalist. Really, there are real people who pay me (not much) for writing about beer (not here, though, I write this blog just for the sake of it). As such, I was invited to the press conference of the Czech Beer Festival.
There's not much to say about the conference itself, which was held at the recently reopened Malostranská Beseda. What was interesting, though, was the news that we were told.
The previous years I wasn't too happy with this idea of the "Czech Oktoberfest". I was wrong. I was seeing it from the wrong point of view. The reality is that those who like to sit down to "taste" and "discuss" the beers they are drinking are just a tiny minority. What most people want is to have a good time drinking good beers, preferably in half litre measures, and that is exactly what the festival offers. And it seems to be working really well. One of the news for this, the third, edition is the addition of another week to duration of the festival, it'll last 17 days from now own. This, according to the organisers, responds to the requests of travel agencies and not few fans. They are unto something this people...
But since we live in an age of political correctness, in which any sort of discrimination is strongly condemned, the people behind the festival have also thought about that tiny minority of people who like to "taste" and "discuss". For them there will be a dedicated tent, much smaller than the other three (which have a capacity of more than three thousand people each). In it there will be talks with Brew Masters, beer and food pairing seminars, tastings and presentations of beers of different styles and countries, for example, a day with a interesting number of smoked beers from Bamberg and, though still not confirmed, a selection of American Barrel Aged Imperial Stouts.
The rest hasn't changed all that much. Prices, fortunately, will remain the same, as will the Tolar system (which I think is brilliant). There will also be a strong presence of regional breweries and, like last year, a few micros like the Kout, Chýně and Kocour as well. On the other hand, it is remarkable the absence of the brands from Plzeňský Prazdroj and Budvar, while at the same time, those from Heineken CZ will show their faces for the first time (or where they last year? I can't remember. Anyway, are they doomed to be the same failure as those from the other giants?)
Once the talking was over, three very pretty girls came to have some photos taken. Since there are plenty of very pretty girls on the streets of Prague, I thought it would be more interesting to have a chat with Honza Kočka, one of the owners of Pivovar Kocour and the person behind what I've decided to call the "Geek Tent". Let me tell you I had never seen this bloke so excited. We talked about his experience as a judge at the recent WBC in Chicago, the news from his brewery (great news, I'll soon speak about them) and about the "Geek Tent" project, which is making him very nervous. I hope it will be successful.
Part of the chat took part during the lunch we were treated at the Pivnice of Malostranská Beseda. Nice place, even if lacking a bit of soul. The food was great, a broth with home made liver dumplings, svíčkova na smetaně (that would have been perfect had the sauce been more plentiful and the knedlíky not so tiny) and apple strudel with a strawberry cream. The Urquell tanková that I was served must have been the best I had in a long time. I liked it so much that I ordered another one, even though it was not included in the treat and so I had to pay 33CZK. Wait a second! 33CZK for a greatly tapped Pilsner Urquell tanková in Malostranské Nám. If that is not a bargain, I don't know what is. (I really recommend Malostranská Beseda, at least the Pivnice).
So, will I go to the festival this year? I wasn't sure about it before the conference, but I've decided I will. One of the goodies we got was a voucher for 5 Tolars, which would be a shame not to use and besides, I'm curious about the Geek Tent.
Czech Beer Festival
14-31 May, 2010. Letňany Exhibition Centre, Prague
Mon-Fri 15-24, Weekends 12-24
Malostranské Nám. 21
Prague 1 - Malá Strana
Every day 15-24hs
And for those of you who can't wait or can't make it to the Festival there are two quite interesting options at the first weekend in May. Středočeské pivní slavnosti, at Dobrá U Kladna, not far from Prague, and Gurmán, a gastronomic-beer festival in Hradec Králové. Both have quite an interesting line-up of regional and micro breweries. If the weather is nice and I can talk the missus into driving me there I might go to the one by Kladno.
PD: I just wanted to share with you one of the official photos of the press conference that for some reason raises my body temperature by a degree or two.
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