24 Sep 2010

The Best Festival

Just as I had announced, las Saturday, I attended the Slunce ve Skle beer festival in Pilsen, and you can't imagine what a great time I had.

Unlike the first time, this year I went alone, or actually, without my wife, because I can't say I was alone. I had bought a "ticket" for the Zlý Časy bus that was leaving at 12. Of course, on the bus were many known faces, some of which, like Ian and his girlfriend Petra, I hadn't seen for quite some time. The trip was far from boring, I spent it talking about beer with this bloke whose name I can't remember. We couldn't help but discuss Gambrinus Nefiltrované, my friend didn't like it, either.

We arrived in Plzeň – Černice a bit after 1PM and very thirsty. We each received a glass with the logo of the Nusle beer temple and headed to Purkmistr.

Thinks were quite lively already. I soon found Evan Rail, already with a beer in hand, who was with a Texan friend whose name I can't remember. I said hello to them and as soon as I was able I procured myself the first beer of the day, Argent, from Pivovar U Rybiček - Stříbro, an excellent Světlý Ležák, ideal to get things going.

While I was drinking it and was doing my best to soak up the atmosphere, Evan commented "If we are good, this is the kind of place we'll go after dying". And yeah, already from the beginning I could feel almost in paradise. Nice place, lovely weather, more than a hundred different beers from more than forty micro breweries. What else could you ask? Well, yes, there could have been a few more pretty women, as Texan friend rightly said (really, there were far too many men), but I'm happily married, so nowadays good beer, good food and good company is more than enough for me (though some eye candy is always welcome).

From then on many beers went down my throat, some excellent, some good and a couple on the wrong side of "not that good". I didn't take any notes, but I do remember the I loved Hastrman Staročeské Bilé de Velký Rybník, a fantastic wheat beer, the Polotmavé from Pivovar Groll, from Pilsen, which made me really glad because the last time I had been there the beer was quite rubbish, and Tmavá 18º from Belveder or Permon, I can't remember, which I chose to cap the day.

Among all that good stuff I ran into many friends. It was great, really. Every time I left a conversation to go get a refill, or food or go to the loo, I came across someone who will start a chat with me, among them, people like Tomáš Mikulica, Brew Master at Chýně, Martin Matuška, owner of the name sake brewery, Jiří Faměra, Technical Director of K Brewery and many more. But the best of all was perhaps helping a friend to destroy some evidence. He was supposed to have his beers at the festival, but a visit from Customs made him change his mind and he was left with plenty of beer that needed to be drunk.

I was also able to talk a bit with Mike and his wife, from Odd Dog. They did great with the two Brew Dog kegs they had brought, 5AM Saint and Punk IPA. By 5, I guess, they had sold them out, and they didn't do too bad with the bottles, either (I bought one from Nøgne-Ø, a double IPA that looks pretty interesting). And hats off to the job Mike did explaining people, in a very straight forward way, the difference between his beers and most of the others that were available there.

In the meantime, people continued arriving to the point that it became almost impossible to walk in the courtyard of Purkmistr, where most of the breweries had their stands, and the square in front of the brewery/hotel was pretty full as well. I don't like crowds, but here I didn't feel uncomfortable or overwhelmed, quite the opposite, I felt pretty fine, I was surrounded by people that were having a kick-ass time and you could breath that.

At 8PM the bus took us back to Prague (I slept most of the trip) and when we arrived I had to fight the temptation to accept the invitation to party on at Zlý Časy, but I was very tired, quite sozzled and really looking forward to my bed.

It was a wonderful day, really. Slunce ve Skle is arguably the best beer festival in the Czech Republic. It's got the lot, good prices (most beers were 20CZK/0.3l and 30CZK/0.5l), an impressive variety that will leave geeks and tickers more than satisfied, but that at the same time is oriented mostly at the average drinker, all in a hard to match atmosphere.

In short, it was an event I greatly enjoyed, and twice. That day my wife attended the birthday party of the daughter of some good friends of ours, at which were about 16 million kids of 0 to 8 years old. I spent the day at place very similar to paradise and I could have easily spent it at place very similar to hell.

Na Zdraví!

(here are some pics I made)

Choose your preferred Prague hotels and get free transport.

7 comments:

  1. Can I officially declare here my jealousy? And also state that if any brewery in the Czech Republic would like to give me a job and thus an excuse to return then they can contact me through my website.

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  2. What Al said. Although I already live here, of course. :) As it happened, I had to be back in Scotland to attend a friend's wedding, so I was always going to miss Slunce anyway.
    And my flatmate currently has her children (5 and 7) round to stay for the week, so I can definitely relate to that last paragraph...

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  3. Sounds like a great day. I agree with Gunnar's chant and say next year as well.

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  4. Ahoj. Great Blog. Sounds as good as Rail Ale Festival in UK. Pleased you Enjoyed it, look,s Like one to visit next Year, depending on Date,s.

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  5. Yup it was a good one, a bit too many people for my liking, but lots of great beers and people. Stribro and Hastrmann were excellent.

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  6. It was a great day and the first visit for me/us and it completely blew me away. For next year I will take more draft beer and someone to work behind the bar for us, if only from the point of view that I didn't even get to try any of the other beers.

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