24 May 2010

Money well earned

Yesterday was a fantastic day, and not only because we finally had a decent spring weather here in Prague (though, to be honest, I have no quarrel with the crap weather, when it rains I don't have to work on the garden), but because I hosted my first formal beer talk for an audience that was willing to listen and pay me for the privilege (hard to believe, but true).

I was hired by a travel agency and the crowd was a group of almost forty Danes. The talk was at the recently opened Jihoměstský Pivovar, the new enterprise of Franta Richter, the onwer of Pivovar U Bulovky.

Considering that this was the first time I was doing something like this, I wasn't too nervous. My only fear was that the half the group was composed by members of the Danish version of CAMRA (can't remember the name, sorry), while the other half were just average consumers. The challenge was to find a good balance and make the talk interesting for the hardcore enthusiasts, while not being too cryptic for the rest.

My decade of experience in language teaching came very handy. I used many of the same tricks that I employ in some of my lessons to make things fun, interesting and participative. I started talking about Czech beer in general, how it's brewed, the ingredients, and then I went on to talk a bit about the history of beer in these lands. There were several questions and it was nice to be able to clearly explain to the laypeople things like the Plato degree, decoction mashing and attenuation. All while being witty, spontaneous and giving an overall impression that I knew what I was talking about (I did know what I was talking about, before anyone says anything). They all ended up very satisfied, even the geeks, and I ended up with the feeling of having earned my money deservedly.
Perhaps, part of the success was thanks to the fact that I gave the talk after a three course lunch, and everything turns out better after people have some proper food and a few good beers under their belts (and that includes me).

And the lunch was very good! Beef broth with noodles and veggies that tasted really home made; then a guláš that was pure awesomeness on a plate (my only gripe were the knedlíky, they were also great, but two was by no means enough to suck that lovely sauce). The desert were livanecký (small fried pancakes) with a batter fried slice of apple, lovely, too. The beers were lovely, too. 

This event also gave me an excuse to finally pay a visit to this brewpub (perhaps the biggest in Prague) that opened almost two months ago after a delay of one year. The place is huge. The beer hall downstairs has room for at least 100 people and another hundred can comfortably seat on the gallery upstairs. There is also a small private room with a further 50 seats, if not more, which was the place we used for the talk after lunch.
At the moment, this is not a brewpub proper. The beers that are sold are brewed by Richter, but elsewhere, Vrchlabi, I think. The house brews won't be ready for another two months. I was able to have a short chat with Mr. Richter and he told me that they will start brewing now, after finishing with all the technical adjustments of the gear. He also told me a few interesting bits. Once the brewery starts working at full steam, Jihoměstský Pivovar will have 11 beers on tap and maybe another one dispensed by gravity the Kölsch way.
The brewery has two sets of kettles. One with a, I reckon, 10hl capacity and a much smaller one (¿1hl? I should learn to ask these questions) for test batches of unconventional beers. The idea is to see how they work out, and then how people like them, and if they do they will be brewed in the bigger kettles. But the best of all is that three taps will be reserved for three different wheat beers, including Dunkles Weizen and Weizenbock, perhaps my two favourite styles at the moment and something that nobody in the Czech Republic is brewing on a permanent basis.
In short, a great day, very satisfying in more than one way.

Na Zdraví!

Jihoměstský Pivovar
Podjavorinské 1602/11
Praga 11
+420 222 352 242
info@jihomestskypivovar.cz

Choose your preferred Prague hotels and get free transport.

3 comments:

  1. Did a fine job Max. Enjoyed Zly Casy, food was good, & 2 and a Half Pegag Thavy went down well !.

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  2. Just seen a Blog on Good Customer Service in Bars. Blog was by bittersweetpartnership on the Good Pub Guide. Mainly service to Women. Noticed in Zly Casy, the good Service to Women Customers.

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  3. Hello Max, it was indeed a most enjoyable afternoon in Haje. I look forward to the next time. Helge

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