Wednesday, June 3, 2009

On Reflection

As I have mentioned before, I was disappointed by the Czech Beer Festival, even though Mrs Velkyal and I stayed for about 8 hours on the day we were there. The experience of the festival and the parallel event held at Zlý Časy got me to thinking about my expectations of a beer festival, and how that differs from going to a pub with a wide range of beers available.

As I said in my post about the Czech Beer Festival, one of the things I would like to have seen would have been special beers made exclusively for the festival. As it was, not one of the breweries at the event felt the need to stand out from the crowd by doing something outside their usual line up, so thank goodness for the ales from Primátor. Perhaps this then is something that the guys at Zlý Časy can bear in mind should they do a similar event again next year – and if none of the breweries will make unique beers, then use their event as the launch for another version of their Zabiják z Nuslý beer.

Probably the biggest problem with this year’s Czech Beer Festival was the choice of venue. The problem though wasn’t the actual location – after all the show grounds at Letňany are right next to the metro station, which is only about 15 minutes from the centre of the city. The problem was that when it rained, which it did almost every day of the event, the field very quickly became waterlogged. Admittedly Prague isn’t blessed with a plethora of venues for these kind of events – however I think an alternative really needs to be found for next year’s event. Personally I think Letna Park would be better, especially on its clay pitches, assuming of course that the tunnel being built is finished.

I realize that this is the beer geek in me speaking, but I would have liked to have the possibility of sampling a lot more beers at the Czech Beer Festival. It woud have been nice to be able to have the option of a 100ml sample rather than having to take the half litre or 300ml on offer. I wonder how many people were put off trying something new because if they didn’t like it then they had wasted 40kč, and so stuck to those beers they knew? Of course the Czech Beer Festival isn’t really pitched at beer geeks, although the welcome presence of micros does make it more likely that we would wander up at least once, but then as I have said before if I really want a grilled sausage and pint of something decent then I will take a stroll to my local, rather than go to a festival.

In reality the Czech Beer Festival is little more than an overpriced 10 day beer garden with a few fairground rides lobbed in for good measure (one of which was called “Staročeský Loch Ness”, which translates as “Old Czech Loch Ness” – funny that, I don’t remember Loch Ness having anything to do with the Czech lands, whether old, new or faintly middle aged). In the same vein, I would think of the event Zlý Časy more of a “pivní akce”, the nearest I can get to in English there is “beer action”, than a beer festival – especially given that they have a wide range of Czech micros on their taps all year round anyway.

Of the two events, I much preferred Zlý Časy’s – but given that it is one of my favourite pubs anyway I have to take that into account, but it has certainly been a very encouraging start, and perhaps one that can become a regular event, perhaps one in winter showcasing dark beers would be a good idea? It is good that Prague has places like Zlý Časy, and Pivovarský klub swimming against the tide and bringing a wider range of beers to beer lovers in the city, long may it continue.


  1. Beer festivals aren't the best place to enjoy beer, in my experience. Smaller festivals in pubs always work much better than the huge warehouse/church hall events we get here in the UK. I can only cope with so many new beers in one go anyway...

  2. I missed out but the franciscan well in Cork do it properly. Free entry as far as I know. Im hoping to make the Hilden festival in August, supposed to be a homebrew competition so I can enter my own beer.


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