10 May 2010

Was it worth the trip?

It's amazing how many brewpubs have opened in the last few months and how many are going to open before the year is over. It's getting quite hard to keep up with the news. (BTW, the other day I was told where one of Prague's mystery brewpubs is going to open and it looks great).

A couple of weeks ago I was finally able to make a visit to one of these new brewpubs, U Kozlíku, in nearby Kladno, which opened at the end of last year.

I had a pretty long break that day. I finished with my first client near the station of the train to Kladno and the schedule couldn't have been more convenient. It wasn't 10:30 yet and I had already reached my destination. Or so I thought. I turned out I had got off one station before. It didn't matter, the day was nice, it was still early so once I got my bearings I started the walk to the centre of town, passing by some of the finest examples of the height of Communist Architecture (read this as sarcastic as you can imagine).

The brewpub is not far from the pedestrian street T.G. Masaryk. From the outside it looks like one of those places I would never set foot in. Huge logos of Gambrinus announcing a sports bar, no thanks. Fortunately, I'd been warned about that and I walked through the door without hesitating.
The room is pretty big and it was packed. It was a bit after 11, peak hour for lunch, and many of the workers from around were stuffing their faces. At the back I could see the kettles cased in the mandatory copper. Nobody was working on them that day, a pity, I was hoping to flash my "credentials" and have a chat with the brewer.

I found an empty table at the worst possible place, near the kitchen's door. The waitress came quickly and took my order for a beer. She left before I could ask her for the menu. She brought it later looking a bit angry. She was mad at herself actually, later she turned out to be pretty friendly. 
I ordered the house desítka. I was thirsty and besides, it's always good to start with the lightest beer. Nice, a bit malty, herbal with a yeastiness that was very close to become a nuisance, but in the end gave a nice twist to a simple but satisfying brew, and at 17CZK a pint, it's great value.
I can't say the same about the food. Alright, I shouldn't have expected much for 49CZK, but I would have gladly paid more for something better. There wasn't anything wrong (nor right) with either the pork or the knedlíky, I've had worse. The problem was with the sauce, an U.H.O. (universalný hnědá omáčka - universal brown sauce) like those that give Czech cuisine a bad name. When made properly this gravy-like sauce can be very good, but the one I had to endure in Kladno tasted like something that had started its life in a Vitana packet.

The other patrons not only didn't seem to mind, but actually seemed to enjoy it. Of course, it can be because most of them were chain smokers with the taste buds almost obliterated by cheap cigarettes. Which would also explain why on the tables you could see more glasses of the more expensive Gambáč than the house beer. Now that I think of it, it's not that bad. I doubt this micro has enough capacity to satisfy the demand, the kettles were big enough for two, max. three, hl.

As I finished my beer I thought what I could order next. I wouldn't have minded another desítka, but I also wanted to taste something else. The waitress decided for me and she brought another glass of the one I was still drinking. That's the kind of service I like.

I couldn't take the stink coming out of the kitchen anymore and I could feel how it was beginning to stick to my clothes. I spotted a free table elsewhere in the room,placed an order for a tmavý (černý, I was corrected), grabbed my stuff and went there.
While I waited for that dark (sorry, black) beer I meditated whether the desíkta alone was worth the trip (the food having been discarded). It is very cheap, yes, but it's not better than the desítky from Kout or Kácov, and I can easily find those in Prague. Now, the černý. WOW! That is a black lager as I like them and few people make. Intense cocoa, strong espresso with a pinch of sugar and mild prune/raisin notes in the finish. Delicious, superb. The price, 19CZK. I almost felt like moving to Kladno.

I was finishing that glass, thinking whether another one would be a good idea. I still had plenty of time, but also another class to give... Life is beautiful when you don't have to worry about important decisions like this. The service knew what I wanted better than me! A second pint materialised in front did away with my doubts. And in fact, I enjoyed this one more than the first.
I swear I was tempted to stay, but before those devils could read my mind I asked for the bill. Something funny happened when I was paying. The waitress had forgotten to charge me for the food. When I told her she was very grateful and for a moment I thought she would kiss me (though, that would have been because I'm gorgeous and charming).

I made it to the nearby Kladno-Město station just in time to take the train back to Prague, and arrived with enough time to get rid of the stink that had clung to my clothes.

On the train I considered whether the trip had been worth it. Well, yeah, given the circumstances, I couldn't complain. It's true that the food was on the wrong side of crap and the place, even that early, was way too smoky for my taste, but I had enjoyed those beers plenty and the service was really good. I don't think I will go again, though. I'd rather wait for those beers to show up in Prague, unless I have another no-show that gives me enough time and I'm near the train station, though I guess that if that happens it will be better to have a bite somewhere else before.

Na Zdraví!

Starokladenský pivovar U Kozlíků
Třída ČSA 3230, Kladno
starokladno@starokladno.cz
GPS: 50°8‘49.266"N, 14°6‘11.76"E

5 stars Hotels in Prague with 75% discount.

6 comments:

  1. I assume the "staro" is ironic? Or is it just some bollocks affectation? Old Kladno Brewery that opened in 2009?? All the imagination of a dead fish some people. Mind you, a place where the bar staff wear tartanesque mini-skirts and knee high socks can't be all bad!!

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  2. The Staro thing has to be bollocks, unless it does stand where a brewery once stood, which wouldn't be all that unlikely.

    And about the mini-skirts. If one of the waitresses didn't look the age of our mothers, believe me, I would have mentioned them as an attraction.

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  3. Next time I go to the Flying Saucer in Columbia I will take some pics and show what proper bar staff should dress like!! Not sure Ales would have the girls in PK dressing that way though. ;)

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  4. Yeah, it's an interesting place, i thought the cerny was awful, bit like Kozel. Other beers were decent, although i saw them in Prague and they were 42kc, so maybe it's worth the trip.

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  5. "Staro-" here refers to the fact that it's in Old Kladno (which I assume it is?), not that the brewery itself is old.

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