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Showing posts from 2017

On Prices and an Impulse Purchase

There I was the other day, approaching the stand  Letající Chroust  had at the farmers market in Jiřího z Poděbrad. I was in the kind of good mood you get after having five pints and a fun chat at the pub. My intention was to get some of their Světlý Ležák (Czechs believe that, since we have two legs, you shouldn’t drink in odd numbers and I’m in no position to defy popular wisdom). As the girl as the stand poured it (the beer was really solid, BTW), I noticed a bottle of Černé Cucu , a Barley Wine with black currant Letající Chroust brewed with  Pivovar Zichovec , and told the girl that I wanted one. My heart might have skipped half a beat when I was told the price, 180 CZK, but I was in the kind of good mood you get after having five pints and a fun chat at the pub and I took it. On the way home, however, I wondered whether that wasn’t too much of a 0.75l bottle of domestic beer? I know I’ve been nagging a lot about prices lately, but I want to make clear that I have nothing agai

Train + Brewery + Bus + Brewery + Bus + 2Brewery = Great Day

When I was blogging for the Prague Post, I wrote a piece about microbreweries outside Prague that could be easily reached by public transport. It included Berounský Medvěd , Starokladenský Pivovar and Antoš Slaný , which, I suggested, could be all visited in one day, without having to travel back forth to Prague. I’d been wanting to do that trip ever since, I even planned it a few times, but, for some reason or another, I had to put it off; until the other day. The family was away, I had been able to finish a couple of jobs ahead of schedule and I suddenly found myself with an entire day free! I opened to check bus and train schedules, especially between the three towns, allowing also for a fourth brewery, Továrna , in Slaný. It was very doable; if I started early in Beroun, I could be having the last beer in Slaný by the mid-afternoon. I had a plan. I took the S4 train leaving at 9:17 from Hlavní Nádraží. I thought of taking the express train to Pilsen that leaves a few

Patented Musings

A couple of months ago, some of the beer personalities I follow on Facebook shared and urged to sign this petition against Patents on Beer and Barley . The text raised a couple red flags that made me doubt the claims of the initiators the petition and prompted me to look further. The first that thing bothered me was the use of “greedy corporations” to describe Heineken and Carlsberg (H&C), the owners of the patents. Regardless of what you or I may think about these companies and other large corporations, I’ve come to associate this language with people who will not appeal to rational and fact-based arguments to get the public on their side, but to our emotions and natural confirmation bias. That wouldn’t have been such a problem, if the whole text of the petition wasn’t so disingenuous. They say: Barley, brewing and beer are all old and well known traditions, which anybody can use. Nevertheless the European Patent Office (EPO) has granted patents to Heineken and Carlsberg for r

A Family Trip to South Bohemia (II)

We drove straight to Český Krumlov after the missus, happy with the way her meeting had turned out, picked us up in Prachatice and we arrived at the hotel shortly before five. After checking-in and checking our e-mails, we headed to the centre walking up the lane that went past the hotel. It led us to one of the back entrances of the palace gardens, which was very convenient since the way would go all downhill from there (in the most literal sense). The gardens are gorgeous, and were quite empty. It wouldn’t be until we were getting to the buildings of the palace proper that we started seeing more tourists. It wasn’t as bad as I had feared, fortunately. Perhaps the day-tripping herds were already back on their buses. It was in the palace complex where the first beer in Krumlov was had, more specifically, at Občerstvení na Vyhlídce , a kiosk on one of the lookouts to the city. It was Eggenberg 10° . Very good, it wasn’t, but it did the job. What I would like to know for sure is i

Regarding Today's Date

I care about IPA Day as much as I care about any other Marketing Driven Day or Month, which is even less than I care about the results of the Costa Rican Basketball League, but since we're on the topic, there's something I want to tell Czech micro (and not so micro) brewers (which I'm sure applies in other countries, too): If for whatever reason you aren't able to procure good-quality, fresh enough hops, don't fucking bother to brew a beer that is supposed to be hop-forward. Sod the fashion and have a go at the dozens of other styles that aren't hop-forward. Everyone without a Pokemon mentality who enjoys drinking  good beer instead of going after the latest novelty so they can get another badge in Untappd will be grateful. That's it. Na Zdraví!

A Family Trip to South Bohemia (I)

My old man visited us earlier this month. Even before he had booked the tickets, he said he wanted to go see the Treetop Walkway in Lipno . Finding accommodation wasn’t easy due to the season and the rather short notice. We wanted to stay near the attraction, but most hotels were either fully booked or too expensive. We searched a until we found one in Český Krumlov , which was somewhat further than planned, but we didn’t mind. Our last visit to Krumlov had been six years before and we were looking forward to seeing that charming city again. The hotel, Penzion Vodotrysk , turned out to good. It’s hidden a couple of hundred metres from a busy road, past a fishpond surrounded by trees, ten minutes by foot to the centre of town. The building looks like it has seen far better days, but the facilities were clean, it was quiet, the staff was very friendly, the breakfast was all right, and the rooms, though without much in terms of luxury, were spacious and comfortable. It was also excell

A Saturday Stroll

My daughter’s school had its end of the year celebration the other Saturday. The event consists of every class performing a short theatre play. After gladly (and proudly) fulfilling my parental duties, I didn’t want to spend the rest of the day inside a school building and I decided I would leave during the first break. Since my wife and daughter wanted to stay, I would have to get home by my own means. I could have got to the bus without much hassle, but it was around midday and I was starving. I didn’t fancy any fast food and the neighbourhood of my daughter’s school is not precisely famous for the abundance and quality of its gastronomic offer. The nearest place I could think of where I would get a proper sit-down meal was Hostinec Nad Šarkou , home of Libocký Pivovar . The day’s menu was just what I was needing: unpretentious and unsophisticated Czech pub grub. I ordered telecí řízek s bramborovým salátem . It was fairly large portion of very good food. The schnitzel was perfec

Catching up with an Old Friend

Láďa Veselý is a true Master Brewer with forty years’ experience in the trade. After spending some time in Japan, he became the first Brew Master at Pivovar U Medvíků. That’s where I met him ten years ago, during one of my first visits to that brewpub, at the beginning of my beer philosophising career. I can’t remember exactly how our first meeting went. I think I asked him something about the beer I was drinking and Láďa was eager not only to answer my questions, but also to hear my opinion about his product. Back then I had more time and fewer responsibilities and I would drop by about once a month to have a chat with him, and sometimes taste one of his new beers. We slowly became friends. Once, I took two Brazilians that were helping put together a brewery in Brazil that would make Czech-inspired beers, or so they claimed. After a couple of rounds, they said they wanted to hire Láďa to show their brewer the ropes and he agreed on the condition that I would go with him as an inte

Back to the Roots Reviews: Loď Pivovar

Contrary to my policy of letting a new brewery lager for at least six months before giving them a go, I went to the (at the moment) newest microbrewery in Prague, Loď Pivovar . A few people who know beer insisted I should give it a chance and the other day, not having anything better to do, I decided to follow their advice. It opened last February, but it would take them another month or so to have their own beers on tap (a common occurrence at not few brewpubs lately). But I think I first heard about this brewery back in 2015—it was supposed to open in autumn that year, if I recall correctly—then it went off the radar and I thought that it was another one of those projects that reality punches in the face. It wasn’t. Word got out again some time last year, that the boat would arrive in Prague in autumn, and then in December… For what I’ve heard, they ran into technical issues, apparently, something to do with water treatment (as you may imagine, boats can’t dump untreated waste wate

Behind the Beery Headlines

Remember a few weeks ago when several media outlets reported that, according to a study, beer was better pain reliever than Paracetamol? Like this one . Well, I found the study they refer to . It’s more than just a study, it’s a systematic review and meta analysis of a number of other studies (basically, the highest level of scientific evidence), and it is quite interesting. What the headlines (though not all the articles) forgot to mention is that it’s not beer itself that is a good analgesic, but alcohol. The headlines could’ve said that Tuzemák is a good pain reliever and they wouldn’t be lying, either. It could be said that Tuzemák is an even better pain reliever than beer, because it’s got a much higher ABV, or at least one that would act quicker. According to the abstract of the meta analysis, the higher the BAC (blood alcohol content), the less pain you’ll feel, which should come as a surprise to nobody. An that is where the problem with the media reporting really starts,

Musings Over an Afternoon Pint

The other day I stopped for a couple of beers at Krkonošská Hospůdka , a friendly, unpretentious little place I wish I could go to more often. I was the first patron to walk in, just when the doors had opened for the day, but I wasn’t alone for long. A couple, a few years older than me, took a table in the opposite end of the room, and more people would soon follow; a mixed crowd that created a great atmosphere. I ordered Krakonoš 12° , I was thirsty and didn’t want to think about what else was there, besides, I have a bit of a soft spot for that beer, even if consistency is not one of its strongest points, but that afternoon was spot on. The man at the other end of the room studied the blackboard with the beers on tap and picked President , a 12° Světlý Ležák from Pivovar Ovipistán . I don’t remember having seen any references of this létajicí pivovar or its beers, but this man at the other end of the room was sure liking that dvanáctka, so much that he got another before I was t

Back to the Roots Reviews: Pivovar Na Lochkově

There’s no better way to kill a few hours in Prague than going on a beer run. That was the case last Thursday when I decided to check out Pivovar Na Lochkově , which had opened about a year ago. After having taken care of a couple of errands, I went to Na Knížecí to get the 120 to Lochkov. It was a pleasant half hour ride through some parts of Prague I haven’t explored yet (I spotted a couple of interesting pubs, btw). Lochkov is one of those countless villages that Prague gobbled up sometime last century, and it seems to have been spared the overdevelopment of similar localities. Though very near the SW section of Pražský Okruh, it’s still very surrounded by fields and small patches of forest. Having lived the first three decades of my life in a city where you have to drive for well more than an hour to see anything resembling countryside, going through fields after a few minutes by bus from the centre is something that never ceases to fascinate me. The brewpub is almost around

How About a Rant?

I’d already commented about this on FB, but I finished a project ahead of schedule and I’m in the mood for a bit of ranting. So here it goes. Two weeks ago was the first Salon Piva in Prague at Průmyslový palác, in Výstaviště, following namesake festivals in Bratislava and other Slovakian towns, organised by the same people. It was a trendy AF event, with trendy AF breweries presenting trendy AF beers, which I couldn’t be arsed to attend. It was a tasting-only festival, to begin with, with 20 cl samples costing mostly between 25 and 50 CZK, as Pivníci reported (though one of their pictures showed a brewery selling 10 cl samples for 20 and 25 CZK). And to get to those samples, and the glass they were served in (no Teku or buttplug, but a Shaker. I’ll take a trendy point off, I think) you had to pay the 150 CZK admission fee. Just to put it into perspective, the price of the admission fee buys you: 2 large IPAs at Pivovar Strahov, 2 half-litre portions of Matuška or a similarly pr

Just a Shower Thought

It's been happening in the US, the UK, Spain, Italy; even in Argentina, Colombia, and Chile. The big boys are buying small, independent breweries. And it seems that it will go on for the foreseeable future. Now, given their recent and, with few exceptions, not entirely successful attempts at producing "new" stuff, (even Pradroj has an IPA this month!) I wonder how much longer it will take for Czech big brewers to start buying minipivovary here, and who are the most suitable candidates. That's it. Carry on doing what you were doing. Na Zdraví!

A Recap of an Unproductive Year

It’s been pretty quiet around here, hasn’t it? I thought 2016 would be a lot more productive than the year before. It started quite well, in fact. I was having a lot of fun with the Tram Beer Challenge —both doing it and writing about it—and I had several other things bouncing about in my head. But then work happened, and a lot of it (fortunately), which left me with little time, and even less energy, to sit down and write. Prices is one of the things I wanted to write about, and for some time. Not only they’ve gone up, but it seems that “expensive” beer has become the norm now. Pivovar U Medvídků is perhaps the best example to illustrate what I mean. Ten years ago, 48 CZK for a half-litre of OldGott was pretty expensive—IIRC you could still find Pilsner Urquell for less than 30 CZK without walking too much. Today’s price-tag of 50 CZK for the same portion of the same beer doesn’t rise any eyebrows—I’d the wager the average price of a pint of PU in Prague is around 40CZK these days