To be honest, I wasn't going to write anything about last Saturday's Slunce v Skle. Not because there was anything wrong with it, quite the opposite, just like every year, it was great, it's still the best festival in this country. The thing is that I didn't believe I would have anything new to add to what I said two years ago: great atmosphere, lots of friends and familiar faces, the weather started out rather dodgy, but then got really nice...
The biggest difference, perhaps, was the quality of the beers. Unlike the previous two editions, I didn't come across anything that was bad. But then again, I didn't drink that much, or actually, I didn't drink from as many breweries as previous years. It could also be that what I wrote on Friday played a bit of a role and, instead of chasing after every new brewery (there were several) I mostly played safe and went for stuff I knew or had very good references of. I even repeated a couple of beers! And though I didn't manage to drink some beers I would have liked to drink, I didn't regret it at the end of the day because I enjoyed what I did drink. Can you believe that? It could also be that I was drinking mostly half litres (from plastic, I couldn't be arsed this year with glass, didn't want to break one again) or that I spent a lot of time actually talking to people rather than to beer (chatting with Adrian Tierney-Jones, one of the world's best beer writers, was also a big plus on a day that couldn't have possibly been better).
And yet, if it hadn't been for Kocour I wouldn't have bothered to write anything here today.
After I arrived, and procured myself a much needed beer (a sensual 11º from Vimperk), I went to Kocour's stand to say hello to Standa Deus, the head brewer, and ask him how our baby was doing. "Mám ho na čepu" (I have him on tap) he said. WHAT? He had tasted it, loved it and decided to take a 30l keg for a test ride at the festival.
I won't pretend objectivity, I was part of the team that brewed Gipsy Porter, after all, but let me tell you this, I've never been so excited in my life about a beer and it is ABSOLUTELY FUCKING WONDERGORGEOUS! It was still a tad young, but it was already perfect. It was everything I expected it to be and then some: licorice, bitter chocolate, mint, port wine and a drop or two of pure heaven. That's what I texted Gazza.
Needless to say, I let everyone I knew that Gipsy Porter was eager to meet them. Everyone loved it. My friend Ian suggested I cast a vote for it as the best beer of the festival, a few of my friends also voted for it and it ended up winning!
You know what my attitude towards awards and medals is and I won't even try to make you believe this one is a very serious one, I'm also willing to concede that many of the votes Gipsy Porter got were from from people that know me and knew it was my beer, but when its was announced as the festival's best beer I almost bursted in joy and all the congratulations that followed it meant that I almost couldn't fit within myself until I fell asleep at home a few hours later. But more important than the prize, any prize, is that people liked it, and they liked it a lot, the keg had sold out by 4.30 or so.
Suddenly, that small shrub Gazza, Hanz and I planted with Pivovar Kocour on the slope of a hill doesn't look so small anymore, and may even grow into a tree because Kocour wants to brew it again.
I'm so proud of you, Gipsy Porter and I'm looking forward to seeing you again in a couple of weeks, this time in Prague.
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