Tweet One of the questions I asked Max Munson, owner of Jáma during an interview I had with him a couple of months ago was why he had decided to change the beer supplier after a decade long relationship with Plzeňský Prazdroj.
After making clear that the people from Pilsen had always been very good business partners, and that the decision had been by no means influenced by anything they did wrong , he told me that the main factor for the change had been the crisis.
As many other restaurant owners, Max was doing the impossible to keep his head above water, which means cutting down costs. One day he was visited by a representative of K Brewery Group. Max didn't feel like talking to him/her at first, but then he remembered the first edition of the Czech Beer Festival, where he was part of the organisation. He saw first hand the huge success the regional breweries had, to the point that some of them had to be moved to the tents of the macros so they wouldn't be so empty.
To make it short, the talk with this rep was very fruitful. KBG not only offered a much wider range of products, but they also agreed to put the taps, bring glasses and promotional material to decorate the restaurant and, if all that wasn't enough, most of those beers were considerably cheaper than the equivalent from Prazdroj.
During the interview Max told me that the change had been very well accepted by the customers and that beer sales were up. But what has happened since then, once the novelty is over?
A couple of weeks ago I ran into Max and we had a short chat while he sorted out some problem at the new Jáma (nice place, by the way). I asked him how things were and was quite surprised by the answer. The change in supplier and adoption of the rotating beer model have helped his business in a way he could have never predicted. For example, he told me how some people that before only went for lunch, now come back after work to have a couple of those new beers, and how some of them already have their fans. He added that the original Jáma has stopped loosing money (they are breaking even now) and, according to him, that is thanks to the beers.
I know of several other examples like this. Last year the people of Celeste had already told me how well they were doing with Kout. This shouldn't be a surprise to anyone, most of the products of regional breweries are cheaper than those of the big brands. Comparing prices at a wholesaler in Prague we find that a 50l keg of Gambrinus 11º costs 1470CZK, while the price for a same sized keg of Rohozec 11º is just 1080CZK; or that a 30l keg of Stella Artois or Heineken will set you back 1297CZK and 1472CZK respectively, while you'll be asked to pay 858CZK for the same volume of Svijany 12º. To this, I should also note that these regional beers can be sold at same price as the others. You don't need to be a financial guru to see the benefits.
I understand Gambrinus and Pilsner Urquell, they are still popular brands, but how can it be that there are still people who offer pseudo imported beers at their restaurants, etc. when not only they are expensive, but they are not likely to attract any new clients?
But when you see the enlightened minds behind the Prague Food Festival making such a fuss about Braník in Fancy Dress*, without any food writer, in English or Czech, having to say anything about it, what can you expect from the owner of a pizzeria in Prague 9?
(*) I have strong suspicions that Braník, Staropramen and Stella Artois are the same beer with different labels, even though the first is a lot cheaper than the third.
3 stars Hotels in Prague with 75% discount.