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Showing posts from May, 2010

WTF?

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 &…

Isn't this nice?

My latest article for the Spanish magazine Bar&Beer is about the čtvrtá pípa phenomenon, you know, the rotating taps thing. Part of the material I used while writing it was my personal observations and what I've been told by the people of Alliance P.I.V. or the owner of Jáma and I realised something, which I used to close the article:

What this trend has achieved is what most multinationals have long feared, that more consumers are learning how to choose and compare and are also beginning to realise that there is a fantastic world beyond the expensive and hollow advertising campaigns.

And that is a great thing.

Na Zdraví!

3 stars Hotels in Prague with 75% discount.

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 …

The best decision

Yesterday was 8 years since I moved to the Czech Republic, by far the best decision I've made in my life. I fancied "celebrating" the anniversary with a special beer. I went to my stash and, while I was looking at what the cellar had to offer, one bottle called me louder than the rest. It's Alive! from Mikkeller. I thought the name couldn't have been more appropriate, it reminded me of the debauchery of my first few months in Prague, which I sometimes find hard to believe I survived with my health pretty much intact.
And it wasn't just the name what was appropriate, but also the beer itself. Like those beginnings in Prague, I didn't know what to expect from it, I was a bit wary of not being able to cope with it, but in the end it all turned out to be pretty interesting, a enjoyable experience that was surprisingly easy to imbibe (8% ABV, nose of flowers and spice in good balance; flavours, dry, herbs, grass, flowers, mild fruity caramel in the back), but a…

Unexpected news

Smoked beers are an acquired taste. I think I could divide most people I know into two groups, those that love them and those that hate them, with few in between.

But it seems that they are slowly becoming more popular among Czech consumers. The bottles of some rauch imported from Bamberg are a common feature in a few spots in Prague, and sometimes they even show up on tap. Also, in the last couple of years, several local micros have had a go at different kinds of smoked beers, usually with good results.

It's no surprise then that one of the regionals noticed this trend and wanted to tap it. And so it is that we can announce the first industrially brewed smoked beer of the Czech Republic, and no, it doesn't come from the brewery I'm sure many of you are thinking. It comes from Český Krumlov, and it's brewed by Pivovar Eggenberg (I think I heard sometime ago that they were about to close).

I've never been a fan of the beers from Eggenberg. Only their tmavý ležák I coul…

Taking care of the product

Much has been talked, here and in other blogs about "Bad Beers". Not bad in the "I don't like it" sense, but bad as in "badly brewed". There are micros that knowingly put flawed beers on the market, which, besides being very disrespectful towards the consumer, shows a lack of foresight that borders idiocy. In order to earn a bit of money in the short term, they risk getting ruined in the long term. Few are those who will drink again a new beer they found disgusting, while a lot are those who will tell to anyone who will listen to avoid drinking that crap, no matter if it is "craft", "industrial", "regional" or "imported".

However, and to be fair, many times happens that beers that left their breweries in perfect conditions still get to our glasses in bad shape due to several factors, bad conditions in transport or storage, not enough rotation or bad maintenance of the dispensing lines, etc. In those cases the bre…

Alternative 2010

No, this is not a political party.

The Czech Beer Festival is about to begin and, on the same day, Zlý Časy will also kick start their own alternative, or in the words of Hanz himself, parasite, mini-festival.

Actually, more than a festival this is kind of beer parade. Just like last year, only the products of micro-breweries from all over the Czech Rep. will be on offer. They expect to reach 50 breweries represented by at least one of their beers, among the ones already confirmed will be the new brewpubs from Kladno, Most, Pácov, as well as the already well known Kocour, Matuška and Kácov. All will be on 27 taps (there will be three installed in the patio) and will be available in 0.5 and 0.3l measures.

So if you are in Prague between the 14th and 31st of May and have already been to the big festival (or not), drop by Nusle to enjoy of a much quieter event.

Na Zdraví!

Zlý Časy Festival
14-31/5
Čestmírova 5
+420 723 339 995
Praha 4

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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 brewpu…

Two in one

I like finding good combinations of beer and food, but, as I've said before, I usually don't bother with that, specially when I go for lunch to a pub. There I just take a seat, order a pint of a beer I fancy and then order whatever catches my attention from the lunch specials, being that most of what catches my attention is pub grub I can be pretty assured that the food will go fine with whatever beer I will be drinking.

That was basically what I did the other day at Pivovar Bašta, one of the best places to have lunch in Prague. I don't usually order soup anymore, but that day they had one of my favourites, kulajda (a typical Czech sour soup, with dill, mushrooms, eggs, etc.), and I couldn't resist. For main course I chose a beef stew with spinach and potato knedlíky. The beer was the house polotmavé, simply because I like it more than their světlý (BTW, with the recent expansion it seems this brewpub has finally solved the consistency problem they had due to lack of ca…

Relativity

Yesterday I had a great day with Todd, an American friend who was on a visit to Prague. We shared many beers (a couple too many, perhaps), while we discussed his impressions about Czech beer, what is happening on the other side of the pond and beer culture in general.

Todd was also very generous and he brought me three very varied samples of craft brews from his land. Among them, and as a sort of joke, he brought Collaboration No. 1 de Boulevard Brewing Co., a beer sold as "Imperial Pilsner"

Besides making me laugh a bit (the nonsense of that name never ceases to amuse me), it reminded me of something I noticed after having written my critique of this "style".

While I was drinking Primátor Rytířský 21%, one of the local examples of Císařský Světlý Ležák (since I am in the Czech Rep. it can't be called Pilsner) I read the back label, which has information written in three languages, Czech, German and Slovak. Here the beer is sold as Světlý Speciál, in Germany as He…

Long overdue

I've owed this review to Kulový Blesk for a long time, but I wanted to have a go at their food first, something that for many reasons I was only able to do the other day.

Kulový Blesk is located on Sokolská, one of the most awful streets in Prague and a great example of the shortsightedness of the Communist regime (laying a motorway across the centre of a major city, the only one in the world that has to stop to let the tram pass, brilliant idea). It's incredibly noisy there, walking along is horrible (and I can't even imagine what it must be like to live over it) and so pedestrian traffic is almost non-existent. If it wasn't for the Pivní Info server I don't think I would have found it. And what a pity it would have been.

At street level there is a rather pleasant looking, and surprisingly not too noisy, patio (without service), the hospoda proper is in a deep cellar and it's divided in several small rooms. All of them are non-smoking and are decorated with worn…