On Friday, the Czech Beer Festival kicked off at Letňany exhibition grounds (last year’s version is pictured above). It’s fair to say that there was some chaos at the opening: when Velký Al from Fuggled and I arrived a half hour after things got started at 3 p.m., there was only one beer available on tap. Tent #6, which was supposed to have Kout and other indies, had nothing going. Nor did any other tent besides #3. It sounds impossible: at a beer festival, beer fans were going thirsty.
But within an hour or so, the situation righted itself. Several great beers from Náchod’s Pivovar Primátor started flowing, including the brewery’s new 11° pale lager. Within a short while we were even sampling Kout na Šumavě 10°, a desítka with as much character as most 12° beers in these parts.
It’s very different from last year’s festival in that there is no entry fee. Most beers are 40 crowns, though this year the strong beers, like Jihlava’s 18° Jihlavský Grand, are served in .3-liter glasses, which makes far more sense than serving them by the pint. You definitely should check it out before the festival closes on May 31.
But there’s more.
Soon after we got to Letňany, Velký Al and I were joined by Max Bahnson of Pivní Filosof. He had just come from the concurrent festival at Zlý Časy, an all-micro running over the same days, including beers from the new brewery at Broumy (more on this soon) and the return of Rampušák, a brewery closed since before the publication of Good Beer Guide Prague and the Czech Republic and only recently returned to production. Zlý Časy’s festival theme is 30 micros in 10 days, making just about every beer an interesting one, and most kegs are one-offs, so when they run out, they’re gone. Go.
In other news, next month’s big event is the wheat beer tasting at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel. In the same vein as last year’s outstanding Christmas Beer Markets, Pivovar Kocour Varnsdorf owner and Czech beer juggernaut Honza Kočka will present a tasting of various wheat beers, including Leipziger Gose and the return of Herold’s Bohemian Wheat. The cost is 150 Kč for each four-hour session. The dates and sessions are as follows: Friday, 12 June, 6-10 p.m.; Saturday, 13 June, 1-5 p.m.; Saturday, 13 June, 6-10 p.m.; and Sunday, 14 June, from 3-7 p.m.
And finally, I’ve agreed to host another beer tasting and dinner at the Mandarin Oriental on Thursday, 26 June, in the wine cellar of the hotel’s Essensia restaurant. The program for this tasting isn’t completely set, but earlier tastings have covered new Czech beers and focused on raw materials. Suffice it to say we will have great food and outstanding Czech brews on hand. For reservations and more information: tel. +420 233 088 612, or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.