Tweet The Prague Food Festival is arguably the most important gastronomic event in this neck of the woods. It's organised by the prestigious and influential Mauer's Grand Restaurant Guide and every year gathers the best chefs and the most renown food and drink experts of the country. The aim is to bring high end gastronomy to a larger audience in an open air space (this year it was held in the South Gardens of Prague Castle) away from the, for many, intimidating environment of the luxury restaurants.
On the advertising posters for this year's edition I saw that beer was going to have a more prominent role, beer tastings and food pairings were promised. However, with so many things going on in my life right now (and also because I didn't think I would attend), I completely forgot about it until I saw report on the local TV. Believe me, I wish I had remained ignorant.
Guess which is the official beer of the festival (and one of its main sponsors). STELLA ARTOIS!!!, touted as a "Premium Belgian Lager".
Are they idiots or liars? I don't know which is worse, really. The Stella Artois you can buy here is as Belgian as Branik (and every bit as good). It's brewed under license in Smíchov for fuck's sakes!
Yet, according to them "Top gastronomy and premium quality beer is the name of the game here". They can't be serious. Give me a break!
Perhaps they haven't realised that they are in the Czech Republic, a country with one of the richest brewing traditions in the world, and with a beer scene that has now become very dynamic. I'm sure they could have chosen something from the many superb beers brewed by Czech regional and micro breweries. And if the local diversity in terms of styles is not enough, there are some companies that are importing a very interesting range of quality beers from several countries. It's incredible that they have chosen a brand like Stella Artois as one of the faces of an event that aims to promote quality gastronomy.
It also seems that they are not very aware of what is happening elsewhere. According to what Stephen Beaumont told me on an e-mail, there are more and more high end restaurants in the world that have started to offer proper beer lists to their clients. But well, the organisers of PFF and the great local chefs are more interested in scallops, sushi, seared tuna and the proper kind of rice for a risotto than in showing the world how one of the products that have made this country famous and that brings thousands of visitors every year can pair with what they believe is good food.
All this is no more than an extension of something I've already discussed, how little those who dictate what is good and bad in the local restaurant sector care about beer.
But, who knows. Maybe next year the new partners McDonald's and Lidl's Finest Tetra-Pack Wine Selection will offer their delights to the most demanding palates.
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