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Train + Brewery + Bus + Brewery + Bus + 2Brewery = Great Day

When I was blogging for the Prague Post, I wrote a piece about microbreweries outside Prague that could be easily reached by public transport. It included Berounský Medvěd, Starokladenský Pivovar and Antoš Slaný, which, I suggested, could be all visited in one day, without having to travel back forth to Prague. I’d been wanting to do that trip ever since, I even planned it a few times, but, for some reason or another, I had to put it off; until the other day.

The family was away, I had been able to finish a couple of jobs ahead of schedule and I suddenly found myself with an entire day free! I opened to check bus and train schedules, especially between the three towns, allowing also for a fourth brewery, Továrna, in Slaný. It was very doable; if I started early in Beroun, I could be having the last beer in Slaný by the mid-afternoon. I had a plan.

I took the S4 train leaving at 9:17 from Hlavní Nádraží. I thought of taking the express train to Pilsen that leaves a few minutes earlier, but I decided against it. It would’ve been faster, yes, but unnecessarily so, as I would arrive before Berounský Medvěd’s opening time (it turned out I was wrong about that, Beroun opens at 9 and not at 10), besides, it was more expensive. My MHD-PID pass covers until the 2nd fare zone outside Prague, which means that the ticket for the S4 would cost me only 18 CZK. On top of that, the S4 does take a slightly more scenic route.

The train arrived in Beroun with a 20-minute delay. I didn’t mind, I had plenty of time (though the people who had missed a connection didn’t take things so stoically).
It’d been years since I last was at Berounský Medvěd and it was reassuring to see that hardly anything seemed to have changed (maybe I’m suffering what Borges, in El Aleph, says, that once you’ve reached 40, any change is a detestable symbol of the passage of time). The armoured vehicles were still there and the complex as whole still looked as if Freddy Krueger was lurking in some dark corner. I could also have a look at the wood-fired brewing kit made of scrap metal. In my last visit, I remember, they were fuelling it with old window frames, today they were using pallets.
The pub inside was exactly as I remembered it, too. It was also almost empty – too early for the lunch crowd, I guess – but it felt right. Not even the crap music from the crap Czech pop radio bothered me too much.

My spirits were further lifted when I saw the prices of the beer. The most expensive, the 18° Grizzly Porter, was 40 CZK for a half litre; the cheapest, the 8° Cyklopivo, was 20 CZK. I settled for Zlatý Kuň, the house’s Světlá 11° (25 CZK). It wouldn’t call it remarkable, or memorable, but it was very far from mediocrity and it had a bit of a rustic edge that I doubt would go down well at the trendy Craft Pivní Bary of Prague (that would sell it twice the price, maybe), but which paired perfectly with the surroundings.

For lunch, I chose a deconstructed cmunda po kaplicku. Though the bramboračky needed some more garlic, the smoked pork was top-notch, as was the sauerkraut. Lovely stuff. For dessert, so to speak, I picked the 13° Berounský Medvěd Tmavé, which was served way too cold, but had a pleasant mix of chocolate and sweet coffee after it had warmed-up a little.
There was still more than enough time for a third pint, but, with a 75-minute bus ride awaiting me, I didn’t think it would be a very good idea, which was a pity, because I really fancied a Cyklopivo; I sort of regretted not having one instead of the 11°, in fact (I needn’t have worried, fate would eventually put to rights). Instead, I took a 1.5 l bottle of Klepáček, a 14° Polotmavé (a little rough around the edges, but ultimately nice in a Märzen sort of way), and a 1 l one of Grizzly (lovely and dangerously drinkable) and paid the bill, which was a few CZK short of 300, including the two bottles.

The bus terminal is next to the train station and my ride to Kladno was leaving at 11:23. I had a book with me to read on the trip, but I don’t think I took out of the bag. After leaving the city behind, the countryside was beautiful and romantic, and I spent the time daydreaming and looking out the window until we entered Kladno.
The bus dropped me 250 metres from Starokladenský Pivovar, which was good, because I only had half an hour before taking the 608 to Slaný, unless I wanted to stay another hour an half, that is. The stop of that bus was, fortunately, only 100 metres from the brewpub.
Since the smoking ban at pubs, cafés and restaurants took effect at the end of last May – and, in some cases, last December, when the EET (electronic records of sales) came into effect – some places became ‘private clubs’ to circumvent the regulations. Starokladenský Pivovar is one of those places, and the pub has changed it name to ‘Spolek přátel Kladna a dobrého piva’ (the Association of Friends of Kladno and Good Beer). To make things official, at the entrance is a machine similar to those you get the numbers from at the bank or a public office that issues single-day membership cards (or tickets, to be more precise).
Much to my surprise, when I walked in none of the 10 patrons was smoking. I perched at the bar and ordered a pint of Starokladno 10.8°. I don’t like curvy Desítky, I find them wrong, but this one is an exception. I don’t really know what it is that this one does right that the other ones miss; it might be the centre of gravity is closer to the top than to the bottom, or the hops that balance it better.
There’s also something about the place, this spacious drunkshop, that I find really appealing that I cannot quite put my finger on. Maybe is the civility of patrons and the staff (though I’ve no idea what it must be like during the evening), or maybe it’s the prices. Starokladno is 18.50 CZK a pint and the Tmavý, 12.8°, Černý Havíř, the second beer I had, is 25.5 CZK. It, by the way, was similar to the one in Beroun, a bit thinner perhaps.

I wouldn’t have minded knocking down another three or four Desítky, but the 608 was leaving at 13:14 and, if I wanted everything to work out as planned, staying for another hour and a half was not an option.

The trip to Slaný took just 30 minutes. It was raining when I got off at the bus terminal and I realised that I had left my jacket in Beroun. There was nothing I could do about that, other than chastise myself, and instead I focused on remembering the way to Továrna.
There’s nothing I can add about the place from my visit last year, only that I found Továrenská 10° much improved. Like it’s two degree bigger sibling, Kruták, it checked all the possible boxes for the style, and then some.
Feeling a bit peckish. I ordered grundle, or cornalitos, as we call them in the Old Land. The little fried fish are a great beer snack and I enjoyed them to their last head and tail – the salad they were served with wasn’t bad, either.
I was in that merry mood you get when, forgotten jacket notwithstanding, everything had worked out as planned and you’ve had good beers and good food, at nice places – or at least, colourful ones – and I still had plenty of time left, not only for the last pub – which I knew would not disappoint – but to have another beer here at Továrna. I couldn’t be arsed with the overpriced and undersized IPA of the house, nor did I want the dark, so asked the waitress what else they had, hoping it would be the Quadruple, a bottle of which I had really enjoyed a few days before at home. No such thing. The waitress told me they had a Kellerpils. Not what I was hoping for, but far, very far from bad. I ordered one.
In hindsight, I should’ve figured that there was something wrong when the waitress didn’t ask what size I wanted.

Kellerpils is served in 0.4l portions that cost that cost 1 CZK more than a Velká Dvanáctka. Fuck these bollocks already! Am I supposed to believe that this 13° Pale Lager costs almost 30% to produce than the 12° Pale Lager, which, as if to further my point, is sold at the same price as the 10° Pale Lager? Even if I was wrong, why the fuck can’t they serve it in a full portion? What are they afraid of, that people won’t want to pay 45 CZK for it, or that they would think that the difference is not worth it? That is, by the way, what I thought, good beer, but not worth the price difference.

This kind of bullshit pricing policy seems to be a Slaný thing. I found something similar at Antoš, where house’s Pšenka 11 costs 41 CZK and the Amber Ale 14, 43 CZK, both for 0.4l, while a half litre of the Polotmavá 13 goes for 33 CZK. I wish someone could give me a good reason for this.
They need not bother. The reason was sitting at the table right next to mine. Two blokes in their mid-to-late twenties were going through the less ‘traditional’ entries in the beer list, not caring too much, apparently, about the bullshit prices, and quite happy with what they were drinking.
But I wasn’t going to let some price gouging to ruin the nice day I was having. After all, I don’t need to buy anything I believe is overpriced, nor am I chasing badges in Untappd. Besides, Antoš does have reasonably priced beers and, to be honest, I was also happy with what I was drinking. Rarach 10 is still great and so is the aforementioned Polotmavé 13. I had no complaints either about the snack I got (I was hungry again!), pečené hovězí dršťky s klobásou – tripe with sausage – served in a spicy sauce. Lovely stuff! Add some beans and you get a perfect mondongo.
I ended up engaging in conversation with those two guys. We discussed the merits of the made-for-TV adaptation of Stephen King’s IT from the early ‘90s. They thought it was very good. I believe that, save for Tim Curry’s performance as Pennywise, it was disappointing to say the least. They were yet to see the new adaptation (I refuse to call it remake), which I think is very good; the casting of the kids was spot-on and Skarsgård’s Pennywise was scary as fuck.
Before I knew it, my time in Slaný was up. I couldn’t get that third beer I was thinking of because I had to catch the bus back home. Yeah, straight home, without going through Prague. Since late August, there’s a new bus line – 456 – between Slaný and Libčice nad Vltavou and it stops in my village. I was back home at around 5 PM, feeling I had accomplished something important. You should try it, too. But don’t bother coming here, go straight to Prague.

Na Zdraví!

PS: I went back to Beroun the day after to get my jacket (not only I like it, but it is a birthday present from my wife and I would hate to loose it). I took again the 9.17 S4. It arrived with only a 5 minute delay, which left me enough time to have a Cyklopivo, well, two, before taking the train back. What a magnificent beer! I won’t debase it with tasting notes, suffice to say that anyone who likes beers made for drinking, will love it. In fact, all the three Osmičky I had this summer were excellent (the other two are from Hendrych and Únětice), but Beroun’s is, in my opinion, the best. I should go to Berounský Medvěd more often, really.

Berounský Medvěd
49°57'23.447"N, 14°4'18.365"E
Tyršova 135 – Beroun
+420 728 325 809
Mon-Thu: 09-22, Fri: 09-23, Sat: 10-23 Sun: 10-22

Starokladenský Pivovar
50°8‘49.266"N, 14°6‘11.76"E
Československé armády 3230 - Kladno
+420 312 240 660 –
Mon-Wed: 06-24, Thu-Sat: 06-02 Sun: 06-24

Továrna Slaný
50°13'43.028"N, 14°4'40.694"E
Wilsonová 689 – Slaný – +420 312 522 822
Mon-Thu, Sun: 11-22, Fri-Sat: 11-23

Pivovar Antoš
50°13'47.938"N, 14°5'19.052"E
Vinařického 14 – Slaný – +420 731 413 711
Mon-Thu: 11-23, Fri-Sat: 11-24, Sun: 11-22