Around the Czech Republic, pivní slavnosti — beer festivals — regularly bring big crowds to brewery grounds, city halls and convention centers. And yet they often have a few problems: the ones in Prague usually only serve one kind of beer. The ones on brewery grounds usually serve their brews only, and only in cheap plastic cups. And the festivals with a variety of beers usually take place in remote locations.
Enter the Czech Beer Festival, set for its maiden voyage this spring. Taking place May 23 through June 1, the Czech Beer Festival will bring in beer from a variety of producers to vast tents set up at Prague’s Výstaviště exhibition grounds, the same place that held Prague’s Christmas Beer Markets, only in a slightly different area and on a much, much larger scale. As in: employing more than 200 servers. Some 100,000 custom-designed beer tokens, produced expressly for the festival by the Czech mint and together weighing over 1,000 kilos — more than a long ton — will be put into circulation. There will be seating for at least 10,000 guests, as well as plenty of standing room under the trees. At any given time, two large bulls will be roasting on spits. And there will even be a beer for dogs.
“We want to create something like Oktoberfest,” said Jan Hübner, the festival’s organizer. “Only with Czech beer.”
Czech beer, Hübner continued, is merely the thread that runs through the 10-day party — there will also be Czech and Moravian food of all kinds, folk music and dance. The servers will be wearing custom-made, traditional folk costumes, and every night there will be Czech bands playing on stage.
The beer list starts out with some of the Usual Suspects — Pilsner Urquell, Gambrinus and Kozel; Staropramen; Budvar and Krušovice — before branching off into a few of our great independent breweries. The beers from K Brewing Group will be represented in their own tent, as well as the wonderful Pivovar Primátor, which — no April Fools’ joke — is making a special brew for the festival’s four-legged guests.
“They are going to brew a dog beer for us,” said Hübner.
Really — you heard right. Just for this festival, Primátor is producing a beer for lucky dogs to drink.
Not all of the details have been hammered down at this point: the participation of a few smaller brewers, for example, hasn’t yet been confirmed. However, it’s clear that the festival will stay true to its name: although most of the big Czech breweries are foreign-owned, only Czech brands will be invited. There will be Staropramen, but not Stella Artois; Krušovice, but not Heineken; Pilsner Urquell, but not Miller.
Beers — brought straight to your table in a custom-made Sahm půllitr by one of those traditionally dressed servers — will cost 40 Kč.
So there it is: the first annual Czech Beer Festival, 23.5–1.6.2008. Reserve the dates. Buy the tickets. Book the hotels. And see you there.