17 Oct 2014

Coming soon: Česká Pivní Válka


Below is the the trailer of an upcoming documentary co-produced by Evolution Films, Česká Televize, and FAMU called Česká pivní válka (Czech Beer Wars).

It follows three people: Pepa Krýsl, a very well figure of the Czech beer world, a Brew Masater and someone who makes a living out of, basically, selling breweries; Martin Jarošek, a composer so angry at Plzeňský Prazdroj that he goes all the way to South Africa to, well I don't know what for, really; and Ladislav Bureš a home-brewer (or should I say a farmhouse brewer?) from Moravia.

I'm fully aware that criticising a film it's an pointless intellectual endeavour, and an unfair one at that. But the internet has been built on unfairness and pointless intellectual endeavour (and porn), so here you go.

From the trailer and the film's blurb (in CZ), I get the impression that there's something loudly absent in this story, the regional breweries.

We have a microbrewing boom in the Czech Republic not because in the last few years almost 200 romantic beer enthusiasts decided to realise their life-long dreams, but mostly because business people see microbreweries as a sensible investment—provided you have the space, having your own brewery up and running it's not too expensive, and if it's well managed, you can expect to get the money back in five years. In other words, it's the love of money, rather than the love of beer, what has fuelled the phenomenon. Nothing wrong with that, as a consumer, I judge breweries mainly by the quality of their products, not by the intentions and ideals of the owners. That aside, and with such good chances of success, you can't really talk about a war, let alone a revolution. A renaissance maybe, but I'm that sure of that anymore.

The regional breweries, on the other hand, they didn't have it so easy. After a world war, four decades of deliberate Communist neglect, sudden market de-regulation and the depredatory style of Capitalism of the 1990s, it is surprising that so many are still around today, especially considering how many didn't make it.

Whatever one might think of the companies, owners or products (not everyone is a saint, nor all are good), the fact is that without Bernard, Svijany, Ferdinand and the other 30+ regional breweries, the Czech beer landscape would be similar to that of most countries I can think of—with very little, if anything, in between the macro and the micro—not a good picture, in my opinion. Actually, I wonder how many Kulový Blesk-like pubs, Matuška-like breweries, pivotéky and imported beers would there be today if regional breweries hadn't managed to so successfully crawl out of oblivion last decade (now, that's what I call a renaissance!).

Anyway, perhaps I'm being unfair and, regionals or not, the film may end up being good. I guess I will have to watch to find out.

Na Zdraví!

Česká pivní válka premières on Oct. 30

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