It's been almost a month since I posted something here. I've been too busy, and brain-fried to write anything, let alone anything worth reading. Not that the following will be one of my best posts, but I do want to get back on the writing saddle, and there's no better way to do it than taking advantage of the date and look back a bit at the year that was.
2014 was, in every aspect I can think of, much, much better than 2013. It was a fairly good year, I'd say, and I hope 2015 will be at least as good.
Publishing The Unbearable Nonsense of Craft Beer was fun. Shortcomings notwithstanding, it was mostly well received and writing it together with Alan was a great experience. We had some more plans for it, but my workload made it impossible to give the necessary attention.
But let's talk about beer.
Most remarkable Czech beers of 2014
On tap: I could go for Únětická 10°, not only it's a great beer, but drinking it at my village's pub after a hard day of work is wonderful. And yet, if volume consumed was parameter, Pilsner Urquell would win. It's the beer that I believe drank the most, not so much for the beer itself, but for where I mostly drink it. Several times I went there to have a quick pint or two before noon, and ended up drinking six because I was having too much fun to leave. However, the winner is a beer that last year I drank only once Purkmistr 12%, and let me tell you why.
I was on assignment in Pilsen that day, Pivovar Purkmistr was the last stop of a crawl that included a trip to Dobřany. I was tired in more ways than one, that Světlý Ležák was the seventh or eighth pint of the day, but when I had that first swig, all my senses came back to life. It was that good, and so was the second pint.
Bottled: Gypsy Porter is still great, if only Kocour would make it year-round. I also loved Kynšperský Videňský Ležák, and their Polotmavé the few times I've had it. The winner, however, is Rampušák, not only it's a gorgeous Světlý Ležák, but at 69 CZK for a 1.5l PET bottle is great value, too (and if you have a problem with PET bottles, you might be a snob).
Most remarkable foreign beers of 2014
Bottled: I was very impressed by Ora Nona from Bresañ (thanks Fernando). Quite improved from previous year's, especially after spending two months in my “cellar”. Schlenkerla Urbock is still one of my favourite beers in the world, but it's beaten by the year-round availability of Märzen, the winner of this category, together with Schneider TAP-5. Really, why bother paying through the nose for an experiment by Mikkeller or his imitators, or some gimmick by BrewDog when I can get beers like those two for 55 CZK/0.5l each?
On tap: It'll have to be some of the stuff I had in Bavaria. Helles Naturtrüb at Au, Augustiner Helles or Andechs Helles in Munich? TAP-5 for setting the tone of what would be a great beer day? All of them, yeah.
Most remarkable pubs of 2014
I must say that, as far as I'm concerned, Zlý Časy is still unmatched, followed by Kulový Blesk. Hanz and Líbor are doing things really well, and they want to do them still better. They deserve all the praise they get, and then some.
I was also impressed by Dno Pytle, even if I wasn't in the best shape when I went, and I fell in love with Hostinec U Tunelů, in Karlín (a proper review of it coming soon). Klášterní Pivnice Šumaván, a.k.a. Prašivka certainly deserves to be mentioned. Had a great time there with my friend Matthew back in March, and finding Matuška in top form at 45CZK a pint it's more than remarkable.
Most remarkable breweries of 2014
Pivovar Clock, because it shows that a new micro-brewery can still mean a good micro-brewery. Kounický Pivovar; not only because its beers are great (I opened 2015 with its fantastic English Porter), but also because it's owned and run by an 83 year old geezer that's got more life in him than most people half his age, myself included. Needless to say, Únětický Pivovar is still my favourite, followed by Břevnovský Pivovar.
Most remarkable beer experience
That day in Munich was simply unbelievable! The beers were by the most part great, and the company was even better. What more can a pisshead ask? So was the day in Kostelec-Kounice. But I guess that the most remarkable experience was that Friday, because of it's extraordinary simplicity.
Most remarkable disappointments of 2014
Three: The first brew of Vinohradský Pivovar. Something bland or average could've been forgiven, something flawed not. But that is not nearly as bad as being served, not one, but two rotten beers at Pivovar Marina Holešovice, and they knew it, they were serving them almost at Mediterranean temperature. Primátor IPA; unlike Bernard with their less than stellar Bohemian Ale (at least the pale one, the dark one was much better), they had the experience and the know-how, I was expecting better from them. (though it must admit that it tasted quite nice when I drank it with home-made tvarohové gnocchi with bryndza and bacon fried onion).
That's enough for the past.
I've got plans for 2015. One of them, of course, is to publish the second edition of “Prague: A Pisshead's Pub Guide”. My April goal, however, is looking quite unlikely. I haven't been able to do much work, and it could be said that I'm behind schedule with the research, but it will be published, that much I can promise. There's another project I'm working on, which I'll be announcing soon. I don't know what the response be, though. We will see.
Anyway, that's it for now. I promise to post something more interesting next time.
Na Zdraví! And Happy New Year to all of you!