30 Mar 2017

How About a Rant?

I’d already commented about this on FB, but I finished a project ahead of schedule and I’m in the mood for a bit of ranting. So here it goes.

Two weeks ago was the first Salon Piva in Prague at Průmyslový palác, in Výstaviště, following namesake festivals in Bratislava and other Slovakian towns, organised by the same people.

It was a trendy AF event, with trendy AF breweries presenting trendy AF beers, which I couldn’t be arsed to attend. It was a tasting-only festival, to begin with, with 20 cl samples costing mostly between 25 and 50 CZK, as Pivníci reported (though one of their pictures showed a brewery selling 10 cl samples for 20 and 25 CZK). And to get to those samples, and the glass they were served in (no Teku or buttplug, but a Shaker. I’ll take a trendy point off, I think) you had to pay the 150 CZK admission fee.

Just to put it into perspective, the price of the admission fee buys you: 2 large IPAs at Pivovar Strahov, 2 half-litre portions of Matuška or a similarly priced brand at several pubs in town or 2 litres of the superb Fabián 12° at the lovely taproom Pivovar Hostomice has set up near Nám. Republiky (2,5 l, if you stick to the equally superb 10°). Why the fuck would I want to pay that much only so I can go into a place to buy ridiculously overpriced tasting samples?

But that isn’t my quarrel with this festival. The pricing and the admission fee are legitimate business decisions by people trying to cash in on a hot trend while it lasts. And Who can blame them? There seems to be a market not only willing but happy to pay that sort of money, even in a town like Prague, which isn’t precisely lacking trendy places with trendy beer.

No, there’s another thing that bothered me about this festival, and quite a bit.

The payment system was similar to the one Český Pivní Festival has been using for several years, a chip card that you top up with credits, replacing cash and tokens to purchase beer and food. So far, so good; clever, in fact. The thing is that the system had been set up with a 10% TIP by default whenever you went to top up your card bought a beer. And this where things begin to rub me the wrong way. It is not too different to the “10% Service Charge” some tourist traps in the centre will add to the bill of anyone not speaking Czech. Of course, people topping up their cards could opt out of the tip, every time, but that is not something you should have to opt out of.

“But, Max,” I can hear some of you say, “I’m cool with that. I do believe the owners of the Craft Breweries that came to Salon Piva to promote their Craft Beers deserve that extra bit for pouring those overpriced tasting samples and putting them on the counter, with a smile.”

Fair enough. But if I told you that only half of it went to reward the people serving beverage and food? Yup, you’ve read that right. According to Pivníci, half of that almost mandatory surcharge (only announced at the cash desks) ended up in the pockets HELLOPAY®, the provider of the payment system, who had set up that surcharge. Cute, init? Yeah, and when went to get a refund of your remaining credits when you returned the card before leaving the festival, HELLOPAY® would automatically round down the amount to the nearest ten, giving themselves another tip in the process for the great service they’ve given you. This, according to the comment below, it's not true. I was a twat for not checking up the information, and I apologise for that.

Fuck this bullshit! Fuck HELLOPAY®! And fuck the organisers of Salon Piva, too for being cool with it! This is not cashing in on a fad, this is just ripping people off. Prague’s beer scene doesn’t need cunts like you. Do us a favour and don’t come back next year. I apologise for this, too, BTW.

Na Zdraví!

12 Mar 2017

Just a Shower Thought

It's been happening in the US, the UK, Spain, Italy; even in Argentina, Colombia, and Chile. The big boys are buying small, independent breweries. And it seems that it will go on for the foreseeable future.

Now, given their recent and, with few exceptions, not entirely successful attempts at producing "new" stuff, (even Pradroj has an IPA this month!) I wonder how much longer it will take for Czech big brewers to start buying minipivovary here, and who are the most suitable candidates.

That's it. Carry on doing what you were doing.

Na Zdraví!