Czech Beer Festival 2014

I was pretty excited to get a chance to have a proper vacation in Prague after visiting for a quick overnight stay last year. We had decided to make it a longer vacation, and my lady was a bit worried that we'd run out of stuff to entertain ourselves with. While searching for some activities I stumbled across the Czech Beer Festival which happened to be going on while we were there. I'd never heard of it before, but after perusing the website I quickly began to get excited at the prospect of having a wide variety of beer to try for the reasonable price of 45 CZK (less than 2 euro at the time of this writing). I contacted my long time friend that lives in Bavaria, and we made plans to go. 

We went May 30th, a Saturday, which happened to be the last day of the festival. We payed 45 CZK to enter and were given a card which would be used to purchase beer inside. The options for putting money on the card were in increments of 225 CZK, so 5 beers worth. The sign said any unused money could be returned when you leave. 

The area consisted of a main tent with more prominent well known Czech brewers where there would be music later in the day, as well as several smaller connected tents which served beer from smaller brewers, and one which had cocktails and shots. I already knew that I wanted to spend time in the smaller tents so we took a look around and grabbed one of plentiful open tables. I walked around the three tents and was amazed to see over 70 taps of draft beer available. There were over 80 with these offerings combined with the ones from the larger tent. This was slightly daunting, but I had done some research and knew several brewers I was excited to look for. 

The set up for ordering beer was interesting. You would go to an attendant at one end of the drafts and tell them the number of the draft that you wanted. They would then select the beer from a touch screen POS system, swipe your card, and hand you a receipt. Then you would take it to the appropriate tap and trade in the receipt for a freshly poured beer. This seemed to work quite smoothly, and I never had to wait long for a beer. Everyone I talked to understood English which helped, because I know practically no Czech. 

When we first arrived at around 2 in the afternoon the event was fairly empty, but it quickly began to fill up as the day went on. There were a wide variety of people there ranging from a stag party, to numerous families, to just about every imaginable person who enjoys beer. At one point a fairly tipsy woman from North Carolina came over and wanted to take a picture with me and my lady. She said she was making friends with people all over the festival and wanted pictures to remember them by. Her boyfriend looked slightly embarrassed, but we all thought it was funny. We didn't talk to anyone else at the festival and people seemed to keep to their groups, but I'm sure as the beer flowed and the day wore on that changed.  By the time we left at around 6 pm the event was getting slightly crowded and the music began to play. 

I really liked the free wifi available throughout the festival. As beers ran out and new beers came up I was able to quickly search on the internet if they weren't already on my list of beers to try. This helped because the only pours available were half liters, so you didn't have to gamble and be stuck with a large glass of beer you didn't really like. I would have liked to have the ability to get several smaller tasters to be able to try a bunch of beers before focusing on a few favorites, but I think that would be quite a hassle for a festival this size. It was great that all the beers were served in clean glasses that didn't require any kind of deposit. My only bad experience of the festival was attempting to redeem the one beers worth of money left on my card. I asked where they poured beer where to go and was directed to a stand where they sell coffee. The woman there tried to return my 45 CZK in 1 and 2 CZK coins which I wasn't going to accept. I had her put the money back on the card, and she told me I could get the money returned outside. Once I got there I was told I had to go back to the souvenir stand. The security card tried to hassle me about coming back in, but after a quick explanation that I'm not sure he understood he just shrugged, and I headed over. I was finally able to get the money back at the souvenir stand. It was ridiculous how something so simple became so convoluted.

I had a great time at the Czech Beer Festival. If you ever happen to be in Prague while it is going on I would highly recommend going. I'm not sure if I'll ever go back, but if I lived a bit closer I definitely would. This was by far the best beer festival I've ever been to, and the over 80 taps featured plenty of world class beers worth trying. I've found when talking to people about beer that Czech beer doesn't get the respect it deserves. There are plentiful amounts of traditional Czech recipes still being brewed as well as an ever growing amount of delicious craft beer selections. If you ever get a chance to explore Czech beer culture I would highly recommend doing so, and the Czech beer festival would be a perfect place indulge your curiosity.  

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About averageguysguidetobeer

Hi, I'm Colin, I love a good hoppy IPA, but I can find immense enjoyment in a solid session beer, imperial stout, quadrupel or a nostalgic beer from my past.


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