3 Jan 2017

A Recap of an Unproductive Year


It’s been pretty quiet around here, hasn’t it?

I thought 2016 would be a lot more productive than the year before. It started quite well, in fact. I was having a lot of fun with the Tram Beer Challenge—both doing it and writing about it—and I had several other things bouncing about in my head. But then work happened, and a lot of it (fortunately), which left me with little time, and even less energy, to sit down and write.

Prices is one of the things I wanted to write about, and for some time. Not only they’ve gone up, but it seems that “expensive” beer has become the norm now. Pivovar U Medvídků is perhaps the best example to illustrate what I mean. Ten years ago, 48 CZK for a half-litre of OldGott was pretty expensive—IIRC you could still find Pilsner Urquell for less than 30 CZK without walking too much. Today’s price-tag of 50 CZK for the same portion of the same beer doesn’t rise any eyebrows—I’d the wager the average price of a pint of PU in Prague is around 40CZK these days. A big part of that inflation can be seen in the increasingly popular Ales and other “foreign styles”, and I have this nagging suspicion I have that a good number of them are overpriced in relation to their production costs when compared to those of Lagers of similar gravity. Unfortunately, I never got around to doing the necessary research to prove or disprove that hypothesis.

Somewhat related to that is my capitulation in my personal (and futile) war against the bloody 40 cl measures, when I saw that even Zlý Časy had adopted them as of last 1 December; which kind of pissed me off, especially because they kept the same nominal prices as previously.

Another thing that I mused about last year was whether it makes any sense to hold a beer festival in Prague, a city that to some extent is itself a year-long beer festival. Why putting up with the inconveniences of such events, which include at least one (usually, several) of the following: lack of toilets, lack of sits, crappy food, beers served in less than ideal conditions, rubbish and loud music, moderators who believe have a comedic talent, queues, and, last but not least, fucking entry fees, when you just pop in whenever you fancy at any of the 30+ microbreweries and countless specialist and not-so-specialist-but-still-with-interesting-beers pubs in town, knowing that you are likely to get table service, clean toilets, better food and beer served in good condition, and without being required to pay an entry fee for the privilege? I’ve still haven’t decided.

But the one thing I regret the most not writing about is my meeting back in June with Lukáš Svoboda, “Master of the Taps” (I coined that) at the Ambiente Restaurant Group. He shared a lot of his knowledge about the proper care of beers and taplines, what goes on inside a keg once it’s been tapped, why the same beer will taste different if it’s poured in one draw or in two or more, the difference between the the type of taps that are in most wide use here and abroad (you know the ones I mean) and those old-fashioned looking ones, first popularised by Pilsner Urquell (yes, this kind, a.k.a. “Nostalgie”)*. My notes look very chaotic now to be able to put together something coherent and engaging, I’m afraid. The one thing I can tell you for sure is that, to properly serve a beer, the glass should be chilled and rinsed in cold water, and not dry and at room temperature, as I’ve seen mentioned elsewhere.

Anyway, I don’t know about my plans for this year, to be honest. I’ve been thinking of starting work on a third edition of the Pisshead’s Pub Guide, but I haven’t quite made up my mind yet. In any case, don’t expect much to happening here, but I'm open to suggestions.

Na Zdraví!

*There are two main differences: the internal diameter of the pipe of each, 7 mm in common taps, 10 mm in the other ones; and the fact that the handle of the regular taps have only 3 positions, while the handle of the “Nostalgie” moves along a 90° arc.

3 comments:

  1. agree with Everything Stated. Sheffield Too. Do not Need a Beer Festival. When in Praha. Just want to Be Comfortable. Locals, No Tourists. + Good Pivo. Always Open to New Discovery,s. But Not Bothered to Drink. In Bars, Where i Have Been Many Times Before.

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  2. It's horses for courses on the Prague-based beer festival topic. If they weren't popular / people didn't want them, then they wouldn't turn up. And re. entry fees, try organising one, eh? Got to cover costs somehow - electricity, music & sound system, water, toilets, staff, clean-up during and after, preparation prior, security, entry gift, tombola, competitions, moderator etc. etc. etc. And no, the answer is not "just pop in whenever you fancy at any of the 30+ microbreweries and countless specialist and not-so-specialist-but-still-with-interesting-beers pubs in town". Most beer festivals will have a larger selection of beers. But it's not even that - many people simply ENJOY the fun of a beer EVENT. With lots of people. And outside toilets. And stuff everywhere. Horse for courses :).

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    1. As I've said, I'm on the fence with festivals in general. As for the admission fees, I understand why you charge them (even if you told me that money will pay you an orgy with supermodels, I would understand it), putting together and event like that is no easy task. As consumer, though, that means jack shit in terms of value for money. I'd much rather pay a few extra kačky for the beers, than a charge for doing exactly the same thing I would do at a pub. This does not mean that I am against it, I'm not, much like the 0.4l measures and smoking, I choose to spend my money elsewhere.

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