Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Ultimate Drinking Experience?

On my way home from work yesterday, admittedly via a slightly circuitous route, I popped into the local Barnes and Noble to see if they had the latest editions of the various beer and brewing magazines that I like to read. There was a new edition of Brew Your Own, which is fast becoming my favourite beer related magazine, and as I already had the current edition of All About Beer, I picked up their special edition Beer Traveler. Having driven the rest of the way home with Rammstein in the CD player, I was looking forward to reading about the places where "serious beer lovers" should go in order to get oneupmanship points on the rest of the world.

Naturally I wanted to see what they had to say about the Czech Republic and there was some stuff about Plzeň, for some inexplicable reason it was spelt "Pilzn" on the map Stan Hieronymous' was using (name and address of the cartographers please, so I can send vicious email claiming ignorance!), and about the Eggenberg brewery in Český Krumlov, a place where I saw this most interesting of signs:

Of the rest of the special, I was most interested in the 150 Perfect Places to Have A Beer, a list of which purports to tell the dedicated beer traveler where to find the finest beer drinking experiences. Now, I am not sure how they compiled this list, though I somewhat doubt it was as thorough as the Good Beer Guide, but a couple of things intrigued me, other than why their software couldn't handle some of the diacritics in the Czech pub names.

Speaking of the Czech venues on the list, they were ranked as follows:
  1. U Fleků (Prague) - 14th in the overall list
  2. Krčma (Český Krumlov) - 44th
  3. Czech Beer Festival (Prague) - 54th
  4. Pivovarský klub (Prague) - 75th
  5. Zlý Časy (Prague) - 83rd
Really? Are you kidding me? The Czech Beer Festival is a better place to get a pint than Zlý Časy or Pivovarský klub? Let me get this completely straight, in the mind of All About Beer, an over-priced beer fest swimming in mass produced swill is better than two reasonably priced pubs with an ever changing selection of quality beers? Apparently the Flying Saucer, of which there is one that I enjoy going to in Columbia, South Carolina, is ranked higher than all the Czech pubs, bar U Fleků. On what basis? Now don't get me wrong here, I like the Flying Saucer in Columbia, and have raved about it many times on here, but better than Pivovarský klub? You're having a laugh surely?

What about other pubs and places I know and have enjoyed pints in? Well, Dublin's venerable Bull and Castle ranks 18th, while the Porterhouse in Temple Bar is 42nd (only 2 places above Krčma? WTF!) and that's it for Ireland, other than the Gravity Bar at St James's Gate.

As for the UK, I don't think I have been to any of the places on the list, but I am not expecting a case of existential angst over the matter any time soon, but if the list is to be believed, the best place to get a beer in the UK is.....the Great British Beer Festival. It would appear that great places to get a pint in the UK are limited to London, Sheffield and Stonehaven. Sorry Burton upon Trent, you have nothing to offer. Sorry Oxford, the Inklings clearly knew nothing about a good place or two to have a pint. Sorry Manchester and area, Tandleman is clearly ignorant of the lack of good watering holes in your neck of the woods. Sorry Glasgow, Edinburgh, Aberdeen (home to the BrewDog pub), Newcastle, Carlisle, Birmingham, Cambridge, Norwich, and so and so on.

Of course one man's pivní perfection is another man's hoppy hell, so list's like this must be taken with a large pinch of salt, and I allowed myself a wry smile at the many pubs I love and miss in Prague which didn't make the list. However, forgive me if I am overly cyncial, but surely the best place to get a beer in the world would be the only place you can buy Westvleteren with the blessing of the monks? Where does In De Vrede come on the list?

It doesn't.


  1. Ha. Is this list on line anywhere? I wouldn't mind a butcher's.

  2. Well, this is a bit like that "Best beer in the world" bollocks, only that there are many more variables that will make a pub better than another one.


    The full list is there.

  4. Cheers for that. I'm missing only 4 from the top ten. GABF, Abbaye de Notre-Dame d’Orval, Belgium, Toronado and Monks Cafe.

    While there are some good places included, the list, frankly, is bollocks. Oh you said that. So agreed.

  5. I'm sure anyone who knows any of the cities mentioned here is pissing themselves laughing: Belgo Centraal in London? Please! It's a restaurant. The Market Porter? Barely the 12th best pub in Southwark, let alone in the world. That really is a joke. The Olde Mitre? The Cheshire Cheese? Each worth a visit, but there are many other London pubs equally worth visiting, quite a few with better beer. The Bull & Castle and the Gravity Bar in Dublin? Tourist traps, and vastly inferior to any of another half dozen Dublin gems that would be in anybody's top 40 world pubs, as would several other Irish pubs I can think of even in my limited experience (eg the Crown in Belfast). T'Brugse Beertje only number 27? Insanity.

  6. Sorry Martyn, the Bull & Castle may have a high tourist footfall, but it's not a tourist trap. If what's in your glass is more important than pretty woodwork, it's the best boozer in the city.

    The absence of The Crown is indeed nuts, however.

  7. I'd just like to say that they weren't meant to be ranked. It was a list a people like numbers with their lists. You can now find the "unranked" version here:

    Greg Barbera
    managing editor
    All About Beer Magazine


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