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Showing posts from July, 2011

At least they are trying

Many people have told me that in the past, the beers from Krušovice were considered among the best in the Czech Rep., comparable even with what Pilsner Urquell brewed at the time. Things started to change in the 1990's, and not for the better. Like most of the breweries in the country (that had not been given back to the owners of the pre-Comunist years) Krušovice was privatised and from then on its production increased tremendously, trebling its volume in only three years. By the middle of the decade, and after a few comings and goings, the German company Binding Brauerei, itself part of the Radeberger Gruppe, itself property of the multinational Dr. Oetker (people who I'm sure care about beer as much as Budvar care about frozen pizza), became the majority shareholder. This all resulted in, well, when I moved here in 2002 the once admired brand was now considered among the worst, a bit like Staropramen today. And that's not it, it is said that the Germans would mix so

A quick beer trip

As soon as I knew I would have most of last Thursday free I decided to make a trip I'd been owing myself for some time. The weather that day turned out to be on the wrong side of crap, but it didn't matter, I was planning to do something like I had done in Únětice . My goal this time was Pivovar Antoš , in Slaný. Since this brewpub had opened in February, I had heard nothing but good comments, about the place, its food and, above all, its beers. I was very glad that I was finally going to be able to make the pilgrimage there. It's very easy to get to Slaný. There are regular buses that leave from Dejvická (the stop is in front of Hotel Diplomat) and the trip takes a bit more than half an hour. I took the bus leaving at 10, which left me at the town's bus station. According to the map I had consulted, I had to go around the church I was able to see from were I was standing and then walk about 200m to the brewery. Since the place didn't open until 11 I went for a

In Prague this Saturday?

If the answer is yes, and if you fancy drinking some different beerwise, then you might want to consider attending the first edition of the Festival of Special Beers Beerketa . The event takes place at the Marketa Stadium in Prague 6 (Bus 179, 184, 191 to Nad Marketou, or a five min. walk from the tram stop Vypich, trams 22, 25, GPS: 50°5'2.264"N, 14°20'50.753"E). Doors open at 11 and the admission fee is 150CZK. The first 1000 attendants will get a labeled glass with which they can sample beers from: - Matuška - Klášterní pivovar Strahov - Kocour - Chýně - Richter - Vimperk - Purkmistr - Chyše - BrewDog - Weihenstephan among others. Besides getting merry (not pissed, getting pissed isn't good for you;), you'll have the chance to meet and talk with brewers, know a bit more about beer styles, taking part in a couple of competitions, have a chat with the people behind Pivo, Bier & Ale and maybe even see me, great honour, at least for myself e

462 words say more than one image

The news that Pivovary Staropramen had yet another year with a drop in production (by 7%, if I remember well), together with the news that Pivovar Svijany has finished with the construction works to expand their capacity in order to meet the increasing demand for their beers, made me remember about this photo: It is said that an image can say more than a thousand words. That's not always true, and less so if you don't happen to have enough background information, as it is the case with the picture above. At first sight, we have signs that announce the two brands I spoke about before, which many will rightly assume that also show the way to a pub, bar, restaurant, etc. After having read the paragraph that precedes the picture, some of you might take it as a symbol of what's happening, a regional brewer that is growing partly thanks to taking sales away from a multinationally owned macro brewer. But that's not were the story ends, to me the photo says a lot more. I

The right answer to an old question

As I was writing my comeback article for the Spanish magazine Bar&Beer I realised something I had known for a long time, the true and honest answer to the question I've been asked countless times "What is your favourite beer?" My favourite beer it's of no specific brand, colour, style or even country, neither it answers to any arbitrary label like "industrial", "real", "traditional" or "craft". My favourite beer doesn't need to shout to be heard. My favourite beer can be an excuse to have a pleasant time with friends and loved ones and can make it even more pleasant, but at the same time it can be a pleasant time all by itself. You don't need to understand or know much about my favourite beer to enjoy it, though many of those who know and understand a lot about beer don't seem to be able to appreciate it. My favourite beer can be the first and the last of the day and doesn't need any special moment or situ

Bollocks and beer pairing

There are brewers, big and small, who are trying to show the world that beer shouldn't be seen only as a refreshment, but that it could also be a great match for all kinds of food, and they deserve praise for that. Unfortunately, there are times when those efforts are almost pathetic. That's the case with this article that quotes Beer Expert Javier Soriano, Teacher at Gambrinus School of Hospitality (which belongs to Heineken Spain) and co-author of that Beer Tasting Method . There Soriano tells us that beer can play an important role in high end gastronomy and that it can also take the place of wine at restaurants. Something I fully agree with. He then adds that "In Europe, a lot of beer is served at room temperature, something that isn't possible in our country, where pale beer is predominant and is served very cold. We have adapted it, making it lighter to make it more drinkable and refreshing, something necessary because of the weather" . Well. Where ca

Family daytrip

For a change, it seemed that the weather forecast was going to get it right, Wednesday (a national holiday here) promised to be too nice a day to stay home. My wife proposed going for a day trip. The idea was to find a place that wasn't more than an hour away by car, where we could go with our daughter and where we hadn't been yet. El casitllo Kokořín was the place that checked all the boxes. Once you leave Mělnik and start following the brown signs that show the way to the caslte, the road becomes really beautiful. It gets into forests that are almost jungles, which try to hide rock formations that seem to have come out of a Slavonic legend, all dotted with a couple of villages with pretty houses. As expected for a day like this, the castle's car park was almost full when we arrived. After leaving the car, we still had an uphill walk a couple of km long to get to the castle, good exercise. The castle itself is in the middle of the woods, on top of the hill we were c

A bit of pub democracy

I don't smoke. I don't like to smell like a well aged ashtray after stopping at a pub for a couple of beers. I don't understand what is it that people see in cigarettes, they taste like shit. I'm convinced that most smokers are nothing but filthy pigs who aren't able to walk a couple of metres to throw the butts into a dustbin, and I don't even want to talk about those idiots who throw the butts out of their car windows. That said, I am against a smoking ban at restaurants, etc. On the one hand, because tobacco, in any shape (except for the chewing, which I don't understand), is a legal product that can be purchased by anyone older than 18 without restrictions, and on the other, because I have the impression that many of the activists calling for such ban are nothing but selfish twats* who can't respect the rights of others. You go to a restaurant etc. because you want, and the same way you choose a place based on the kind of food, prices, atmosphere,

Selected Readings: June

Another month and more beer interesting things to read that I want to share with you. Pete Brown talks about the the importance of bloggers in the beer trade , something I'm not so sure I agree with if I look at the big picture, but I must admit Pete brings some solid arguments. Lorenzo Brusattin, from the Spanish site Marketing y Consumo , offers a very good analysis of the beer market in Spain , which after changing a few names, could be easily applied to almost every country. 2d2spuma asks several questions , while lamenting that the organisers of a Crafts Fair had accepted the sponsorship of a macro brewer, who, as expected, had as a condition that only their beers could be sold at the event (something I can fully understand). But it's the second and third part of the thing what interests me the most, they remind us that a micro brewer is a company and a "craft brewer" is a business person. Something that is quite obvious, but that, at the same time, seems