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A Philosopher in the League of Extraordinary Pissheads

Although I understand the value they can have for the brewers (and their marketing people), it’s been my opinion for quite some time that, as far as the experience of the consumer goes, beer competitions, even the most prestigious ones, have fuck-all relevance. My experience judging competitions in the last couple of years (as much fun as they have been) not only has failed to change my views, it has reinforced them.

There’s one exception, though, První Pivní Extraliga. Unlike other competitions, the samples to be evaluated are not carefully selected (or even specially brewed) and sent by the breweries, they are procured at supermarkets and shops. This means that they may not be very fresh and may have even suffered some sort of abuse or another. In other words, they are beers we actually drink and not an idealised version thereof. The main competition, Světlý Ležák in half-litre glass bottles, also rewards consistency. The winner will have to be successful competing against other nine beers in each of the three rounds that begin in February and finish with the final in November.

Since its first edition in 2010, the rounds of blind tastings have produced some very surprising results, and the gold has gone to beers many a self-styled connoisseur would not touch with a 10-foot pole. This makes the competition, in my opinion, even more fun to follow. And now I’ll be doing something far better than just following it from the outside.

Yeah, that’s right. I’ve been asked to join První Pivní Extraliga. Last year’s untimely passing of Rosťa Kloubek left an empty seat and the members of the League thought I’d be a good fit. Needless to say, I’m quite excited and honoured. These people take the competition seriously and Rosťa knew his beer really well (and was much well-liked and now missed figure in the local beer community and among the PPE members).

Yesterday, at První Pivní Tramway, the venue of the tastings, was the year’s first meeting – ideová konference, as they call it – where I was officially welcome as a member and told about my duties as such. The main point in the agenda was the program for the first half of the year. It’ll be quite busy, but it looks fun.

I’ll keep you informed.

Na Zdraví!

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