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Showing posts from March, 2010

Welcome changes

For 16 years now Jáma has been a favourite among Prague's English speaking expat community. However, for several reasons, this pub has never been in my regular rotation. Not that there was anything wrong with it, I ended up satisfied the few times I visited it, but I still didn't feel like going back, not my cup of tea. Regardless of that, when its owner, Max Munson, sent me an email inviting me to a press conference I didn't hesitate to answer I'd be there. And no, It wasn't (just) because of the promise of free food and drink. Jáma had recently decided to put an end to a decade long business relationship with Plzeňský Prazdroj . Their new beer supplier was going to be from now on K-Brewery Group . I had heard something about it, but at the time I thought Jáma would only stock Lobkowicz Premium (a beer I still don't like, and understand even less) and perhaps a couple more. Well, I was wrong. Besides changing suppliers, Max had decided to adopt the "čtvr

On recognition, a funny offer and some sad news

The other day I got an e-mail announcing me that Pivní Filosof had been included in the list of the "Best 50 Beer Blogs" , which was published in the blog of I've got no idea who these people are (though I wonder if they aren't the same that send me emails offering me On-line University Degrees), nor what their selection criteria was, but a pat in the back is a pat in the back and it will always be welcome. A couple of days later I got another e-mail, this time coming from the editor of a "How to" website, telling me that they were about to launch a new service and were interested in my being a contributor and one of the "Founding Members" of the "Beauty and Style" channel, since they consider me an expert in the field glamour and pretty things. I wonder if they ever had a look at my photo up there, and if the did, I really can't imagine who could be interested in the beauty tips I could give (and frankly, I don'

Now, this is just stupid

There's nothing wrong in a company looking after and protecting their brand, or brands. Quite the contrary, I think it's something very important that every company should do. After all, brands are among the most valuable assets they have. Whatever I might think about the beer (and I still like their tanková ), I've always liked the way SAB-Miller takes care of the Pilsner Urqell brand. It's known that the company employs quality inspectors go on undercover visits to their tied pubs. Their job is to see that the beer is well taken care of, properly served and some of them check the hygiene and maintenance of the tap system. This might look like something out of an urban legend, but I believe it's true, walking around the Czech Rep. you will come across many pubs with stickers, plaques and other certificates that prove it. Certainly, another one of the tasks of these inspectors is to make sure that no beers other than Pilsner Urquell are sold as such. Nothing wrong t

Progress Report

I'm sure many of you are wondering how the project of my book is going, specially those who have generously donated to the cause. Fear not! Here is the second (and very belated) progress report. The first words have been forged into bytes and I've already set up a work schedule that I hope (and doubt) I'll be able to keep. At the same time, research goes on and still provides something to talk about. Today is about a myth busted, popular wisdom confirmed and a pleasant surprise. The myth busted: "Service at Prague's pubs, etc. is crap". Or at least that is the impression you will get after reading many an expat restaurant review or forum thread. It's bollocks! OK, I'm not going to say that you won't come across bad service in this city, but the same happens in every city and tourist spot in the world. These last few months I have visited many places I had never been to before, and almost without exception I've found the service to be efficient

Christmas Surprise

A couple of days before last Christmas I got in mailbox an announcement telling me I had a parcel from Norway waiting for me at the local post office (which is in the next village). "Hmmm!" I say opening my eyes wide and twisting my mouth appropriately to express my intrigue. I wasn't expecting anything from the long country of the North. After seeing the parcel's weight written on the slip I reckoned, and hoped, they were beers. And so it was. Jens from Haandbryggeriet had sent me a few samples of his beers: Aqua Vita Porter , Haandbakk , Norse Porter , Dark Force , Gravøl (that will have a separate review) and one of my last year's favourites , Norwegian Wood , plus one more bottle that didn't survive the trip. I must say that, after having tasted several of their beers , Haandbryggeriet has become one of my favourite breweries. Their product line is very interesting and varied, many of the beers are fermented using their own strain of "wild yeast&quo

A Paradox

Mi favourite "beer proverb" is: "The only important thing is what's in the glass. The rest, at most, is interesting". I also believe that the ideal way to evaluate a beer would be using the so called "Double Blind Tasting" method, in which you don't have any preliminary information whatsoever about the beer or beers to be judged. In reality, though, this method is pretty hard to use. There's always going to be a long list of factors that will influence our opinion over this or that beer. But even if we did employ it, can it be really useful to define if a beer is better than another or others? Shouldn't some of those above mentioned factors be considered in order to reach that conclusion? Let's play a mind game: We are doing a comparative tasting of two beers, let's call them A and B. The only information we have about them is very general: Both are from the same country or region (we aren't told which) and they are of regular


Yesterday I put on my journalist costume and had did an interview for my next piece for Bar&Beer . I was at SPŠPT (that in Czech stands for Industrial Middle School for Food Technology), where, among other careers, kids can learn Brewing. There I had one of the most wonderful beer experiences of my life, tasting at a secondary school beers brewed by pupils. I tasted three of them, a polotmavý ležák with a nice caramel body, fruit notes and a mild bitter finish, a tmavá 20ª that was a great example of Baltic Porter, a lot of dried fruit and well integrated roasted notes and the star of the house Podsklalský Smrtihlav a tmavé with 37º Plato and 13.3%ABV, brewed with 100% grain, with a pretty complicated process and, the sample I tried, lagered for about a year. It was really good, even though it was served too cold, I could still feel ripe fruit, vanilla and some spice. The alcohol was very well integrated and made me feel I was drinking some nice brandy. All three beers, which I

The brand above the drink

A few days ago Pete Brown told us about the fate of Tetley's Cask ,  and how its owner, Carlsberg UK, have decided they will close the brewery in Leeds and shift the production elsewhere in England. This is nothing new, neither surprising. It's common practice among the big multinational brewing groups. Heineken CZ have been a lot on the news lately for doing just that here in the Czech Republic. In the last year they have shut down three breweries, in Znojmo , Kutná Hora and, most recently, in Louny (they had bought the last two the year before). But this is not what I wanted to talk about today (neither about Heineken's idea of a free market ). The closing of breweries, though sad, is something inevitable in this context and, to be fair, we should ask ourselves whether those breweries would have survived had they remained independent, which, unfortunately, we will never know. What I wanted to talk about is the little respect Heineken has for language and, to a certain e

Things are taking shape

Well, it seems my idea was not as crazy as I had thought. There've been quite a few who've said they would like to attend what I have decided to call Internation Gathering of Beer Bloggers, Prague 2010 . People from Latvia, Spain, England, Norway, Denmark y Holland have already expressed their interest and so, the even already has a date: 22-23 October 2010. The program hasn't been defined yet, it will depend on how many people are attending, but it's already certain that the closing will take place at Zlý Časy , while Friday 22nd will almost surely include a visit to at least one brewery. Registration is already open, those who want to sign up can send me un mail , or leave a comment below. Let's see how many how many of us we can put around the same table. Na Zdraví! PS: Anyone fancies designing a logo for this? (It should include the phrase in Spanish: "Reunión Internacional de Blogueros Cerveceros, Praga 2010") Travel to the Czech Republic and stay at

More Swedes

I bet you were thinking I had forgotten. No way! How could I? But with so many things to write about and a sudden surge in work, I had to postpone the publishing of the tasting notes from the rest of the Swedish beers Leif had brought me. This time the notes come from four samples from the same brewery Jämtlands Bryggeri . Something curious happened to me with them. If you take each on its own you won't find anything wrong, nor anything remarkably good. None of them stand out for their complexity or intensity. They are rather simple beers, the kind that won't demand much of your attention and that can be good company when spending time with friends or cooking or watching a film, and I have no problem with that at all, I really like this kind of beers. The problem is that when evaluating them as an ensemble I found that they are all too similar to each other. Not only I got the impression that the same kind of hopes with resinous notes were used, but that they were used in the s

On the same topic

I've got quite a bit of work today, but I still wanted to post something. Something related to the topic I talked about the other day, the difference between the perception of beer and wine . Films and TV series are often a good mirror to contemporary popular culture and the other day I was thinking about how beer is portrayed in them and ended up with the following questions: How many times have you seen beer being discussed, at least briefly, in a film or TV series? It is consumed, but not talked about. How many times have you seen a character, main or secondary, that is a beer geek, collector or that works at something related to the brewing industry? Is there a film or TV series where either beer or brewing, or its trade, are at the centre of the narrative? I mean something in the lines of that incredibly overrated film Sideways . My answers: Never. Never. No. I might be wrong, of course. But let's say I'm right, do you think the perception of beer by the general public