I was going to go alone, but the day before, a Monday, I got a surprise text message from an old friend I hadn't seen for awhile. I told him my plan and he said he'd loved to join.
We met at the agreed time at the Veleslavín metro station, right when the bus was pulling over. After an uneventful but comfortable half-hour ride, we got off that the Slaný bus station. A short walk took us to Továrna Slaný, a new minipivovar that had opened in February in a repurposed industrial building—hence the name—where Jakub Veselý, of Pivo Falkon fame, is acting as head brewer.
For some reason, I expected the pub to look different. Perhaps an open space, with higher ceilings and the bar either all the way to the back, or right by the entrance. Instead, it is spread in spread in several rooms, making it bigger than it looks at first, with a very small taproom to the left of the door; all in dark wood, including the furniture. It's a bit too generic for me, and—like the the font of the brewery's logo—too similar to a Pilsner Urquell Original Restaurant. But that is, at the end of the day, of very little importance, especially when both the service and the food we had were very good.
They had four beers on tap. I started off with Továrenská 10° světlé, one of those beers that has everything it should, but put together wrongly. There was bitterness at the beginning, followed by a too generous dollop of almost caramel-like sweetness that swiftly moved aside, pushing everything away with it, leaving a watery finish where maybe the bitterness should have been. Unsatisfactory, that's the most accurate evaluation I can give it. Kruták 12° světlé, the one that followed, had those very same things, but more evenly spread and in a thicker layer, of course. It was a textbook example of a proper Světlý Ležák. Loved it really. I finished lunch, which was spent talking about the most varied topics—one almost randomly leading to the other—with Salzberg 12° tmavé, a dark lager that masterfully straddled the boundary between the sweet and the roasty. Incredibly enjoyable. I didn't bother with the fourth, the 15° IPA, Protektor, which was only served in 0.3l for the same price as a half-litre of the rest. I don't understand why they do that (and I wonder if the production costs of an IPA are that much higher to warrant such price difference). My mate had it, though, and said it was good.
The balance overall is very good and well worth the bus ride there all by itself. But since we were in Slaný, it would have been a sin not to drop by Pivovar Antoš.
The weather had decided to finally honour its threat by the we left Továrna. It was not pouring down, yet, but we were beginning to get wet as we walked down Wilsonová, towards the centre. It was in that street where a sign caught my attention. It announced Zichovecký Pivovar, the venue of the World Beer Idol competition I had judged back in January. It was at the entrance of Hugo Bagel Café.
After considering it for about two seconds, we went in for a stopover. If someone had shown me pictures of the place and told me it was in Vinohrady or Holešovice, I would've probably believed it. It had the look and decoration that has almost become a standard of the new breed of bar/café/pub hybrids that have been popping up everywhere in Prague. The food we saw being carried to other tables looked very nice, too, and the service was brilliant. The beer, on the other hand... I ordered a 10° from Zichovec, it was only a shadow of my fond memories of it, I suspect it wasn't as fresh as it should. My mate ordered Matuška Apollo Galaxy, and he was very happy with it.
Not the sort of place you'd expect to find in a mid-sized Czech town, a very pleasant surprise indeed and, hopefully, part of a wider trend throughout the country.
The rain had intensified during our stopover and was now really annoying, and was not of much help for getting my bearings when we walked into Slaný's Old Town. I realised I wasn't sure about the brewery location relation to where we were, and we actually bumped into it after making what I thought was a wrong turn.
It was nice to be indoors, and nicer still to be back in this brewpub after maybe two years. Nothing had changed since my last visit, fortunately (though the company has expanded with a second, larger production facility in the outskirts of town). The service was every bit as good as it had been in the previous two places, and they also had a Desítka on tap, Rarach. It was by several lengths better than the previous two; excellent, actually. Likewise with the Polotmavá 13°. Sometimes, I wish Czech microbreweries focused more on beers like that and less on IPAs, but I guess they aren't as sexy, (or profitable?). Regardless, I capped my Slaný beer-run with Tlustý Netopýr. I didn't mind (too much) that this Rye IPA was only available in 0,3l portions (it's only a 17° beer!), at a price even higher than the previous two's for a half litre—I fancied a small beer anyway, and, with six pints already under my belt, I was past caring. Besides, the beer is excellent and was a perfect bow to a great day spent catching-up with a good friend.
Whether alone or in company, Slaný is definitely a very good destination for a beer day-trip out of Prague.
Wilsonová 689 – Slaný
firstname.lastname@example.org – +420 312 522 822
Mon-Thu, Sun: 11-22, Fri-Sat: 11-23
Bagel Café Hugo
Wilsonová 585 – Slaný
email@example.com – +420 734 154 250
Mon-Thu, Sun: 10:30-22, Fri-Sat: 10:30-23
Vinařického 14 – Slaný
firstname.lastname@example.org – +420 731 413 711
Mon-Thu: 11-23, Fri-Sat: 11-24, Sun: 11-22