Wednesday, 20 April 2016

Prague Spring

I was back in Prague for work recently. It was a a project developing sensors which will revolutionise the brewing industry. Either that or fade into obscurity as a minor footnote in brewing research. Still, Prague was nice.

I had some time for freelance research when I was there too. I'd equipped myself with the most important thing to take when you visit Prague: the second edition of the Pisshead's Pub Guide. And a map, as the ones in the book are rubbish, though I have just seen that the Max has put some better versions online. My first stop was my favourite place from my last visit, Kulový blesk , to check out my favourite beer from then, Únětický. I'm please to say that both were on fine form.

My next mission was to track down beer from the Měšťanský pivovar v Poličce. There's a woman at my Thai boxing club from Polička and she is firmly of the opinion that their local brewery is the best. Thanks to Max's guidebook I managed to find a bar selling it, and in my greatest linguistic triumph in Prague manage to order and pay for some in Czech.

The beer was good, but I still preferred Únětický. In fact as I'm planning to organise a Brewery History Society visit to Prague later in the year I visited the Únětický brewery to check out the feasibility of including it in the trip.

I'm please to say it was pretty straight forward getting there, and the beer was gorgeous. There's no doubt about it, I've found a lager that I like. Mind you, I was quite taken with the Czech stuff in general, I much prefer it to what the Germans make. I quizzed the Head Brewer at the place I was working about this and he informed me that generally Czech lager has higher IBUs than German (30 vs 20-25), has a higher final gravity, and they still use double decoction mashing so has more caramel flavours and it's darker in colour due to this so is more copper coloured. I didn't ask him about diacetyl but one of his colleagues did confirm my suspicion there's a lot in Pilsner Urquell.

 I'd arranged to meet up with Max, the Pivní Filosof himself in the week at Pivovarský Dům, which was rather handily in the same building as the Institute. Sadly I was slightly too early to try the beer he'd made there but the special they had on wasn't bad at all.

I'd arranged with one of my Czech colleagues to show Max round the Institute. Here's their shinny new 50L pilot brewery.

It still needs a brewery stick though:

Thanks to Eddie Gadd for teaching me about brewery sticks. There everywhere I'm telling you.
After the tour we went to U Šumavy. We had a few there. Being with a local pub guidebook writer I was happy to let Max take the lead.

I think this picture's from there
We did wander on later else. I'm sure I had details of it somewhere but they seem to have escaped me.

We had some ales in this one. I think they were from Permon. There were good, but at about 6% rapidly finished me off. It was great meeting up with Max, though I'm kicking myself I forgot to ask him about his other magnum opus. We did cover some important ground though, as I remember we'd discussed that despite our love of beer perhaps we were pub geeks more than beer geeks. There really is only one place to enjoy beer at its best, and in a great pub the beer doesn't even need to be the best.

After an evening's hard researching I was not at my best the next morning, and suffered the common problem of an Englishman abroad: no bacon for breakfast. They did at least have some pork products, but really the Czechs have no idea about breakfast, they just seemed to arrange a random collection of foods with no thought to if they should be for breakfast, lunch or dinner.

Yes, that is broccoli for breakfast, the only green vegetables I saw all week.

And does anyone really eat olives with their breakfast cereal? And what's with the cake?
Still, I survived. And after having heard that Max's favourite pub in Prague is Zlý časy I had one more research trip to make.

I just had the one (Únětický again) but it is a great looking place, and has a specialist beer off licence next door.

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