- 5 tents out of 6 with no beer (is it a coincidence that the "media tent" had beer?)
- a general unavailability of the festival's currency, the tolar
- a general lack of organisation
These things eventually got sorted out, but we waited nearly an hour and a half for our first beers. However, I think there are bigger problems with the festival than just poor organisation.
Firstly, the event lacks a back story - why does it exist? Why at this time of the year? It seems that somebody had the bright idea of putting a few big tents up in a field (a very wet field on Friday) and selling beer, and that's the extent of its raison d'être. I am sure that this comparison is not entirely fair, but from the get go Oktoberfest has had a clearly defined reason, to celebrate the marriage of the then Crown Prince Ludwig in 1810.
Also as part of the back story, it would be interesting, at least for geeks like me, to have the tolar explained - why that particular name? For those who have never seen the Connections TV series, a tolar, or "thaler", was a silver coin minted in the town of Joachimsthal, modern Jachýmov in northern Bohemia. Whilst on the issue of the tolars, which is a very good idea, whoever set the cost of a tolar at 40kč must be living in cloud cuckoo land. Each and every beer at the festival costs 1 tolar, regardless of brand, size or alcholic content, thus 0.3l of Primátor Weizen costs the same as a half litre of their Stout even though it is only 0.2% stronger.
Possibly though I biggest gripe about the event is the sheer dullness of the beer selection. Don't get me wrong, it is great to see the likes of Kout na Šumavě, Primátor and Rampušák at the event, but other than Primátor's Stout, Weizen and English Pale Ale, what was really on offer? Large amounts of pale golden lager, and not much else. Yes, Kout and Rampušák are good beers, but come on guys do something different and encourage me to part with my tolar, especially galling when just round the corner I can get Kout for 20kč! Perhaps the organisers of the event could include a condition for participation that each brewer has to make a special festival beer, with a different style selected every year? In 2010, along with all the golden lager, how about getting everyone to brew a bock for example, thus encouraging brewers to innovate, and consumers to experiment.
An event like the Czech Beer Festival could be so much more than it currently is, unfortunately it is nothing special and not something I would recommend people to bother with - rather I would give them a list of pubs with the same beers at reasonable prices to go to. If I compare it to an event like Slunce ve Skle, then it really has a long way to go before it matches up.