The Prague Beer Fest Test

It is a well known fact – Czechs love beer and they love festivals as well. In fact all the festivals – music, sports, books and whatever else, are only a guise for getting away with drinking a half a keg of beer during the event. So organizing a beer festival seems to be a great idea because it perfectly combines the loves of the Czech people without creating any guilt. A beer festival is simply about beer, and with that expectation, nobody will have anything to feel guilty about.

Czech Beer Festival, photo: Martin Hrbek

Czech Beer Festival, photo: Martin Hrbek

But seriously, the Czech beer festival is not only about getting loaded, but it’s also about tasting. The 2014 beerfest was the 4th consecutive year and it entertained its visitors with beer from more than 40 different Czech breweries, mostly the middle-sized or even micro-breweries. Fortunately the festival lasted for 17 days, so beer-fans had plenty of opportunity to try as many brews as possible. On the other hand, I have never seen a human willing to visit a festival every single day from beginning to end. A true beer connoisseur must carefully select what he or she allows past his or her taste buds.

So let’s have a look into the giant beer tent with lots of beer benches and tables. And girls dressed in folk costumes. And bouncers giving evil eyes to everyone. And guys in funny hats who take your order.

The art of tasting
When tasting and judging beer, every opinion is subjective. This year’s official beer was from Krušovice, which is absolutely uninteresting for the price of 45 CZK. Only the wheat brew stood any chance. And speaking about the prices, in 2014 the admission was 45 CZK and then you were required to get a beer card and charge it with at least 5 Tolars, the official currency of the festival. One Tolar cost 45 CZK! And herein lies the problem.

Each brew costs one Tolar (or 45 CZK) for half a liter. In my opinion, not many of the specimens were worth that when you can have them somewhere else for a more reasonable price. That said, there were some jewels that stood out from the crowd. For me, there were three absolute winners: Břevnov brewery, Louny, and Kout from the Šumava wilderness.

Photo: Diego Meneghetti, Stock.xchng

Photo: Diego Meneghetti, Stock.xchng

Unfortunately, the offer of beer varies every day – depending on the stock and logistics. And it is not good news if one plans to visit only because they want a few favorites featured on the festival beer list.

As food has always been a part of beer orgies, there is no lack of it at the festival. Every week is devoted to a different cuisine, so visitors could experience European, Asian, or South and North American cooking. If they were willing to sacrifice more than a couple of Tolars for that.

Festivals would be really boring without music, so in 2014 you could hear several B-Class Czech rock and other genre bands every evening. They were good for the atmosphere, but to be honest, it’s not the main reason one would come to such an event, it serves merely as background noise.

Ultimately, the question is: Is the Český pivní festival worth a visit? Despite a mix of pleasant and lesser-so moments, the answer is still “yes,” it might be worth a visit at least once. However, Praguers may tell you about a lot of better beer events, and Prague.Tips will certainly keep you informed about them. However, if you happen to be in Prague in May 2015 and have nothing better to do, you can spend your salary at the Czech beer festival.

Author: Martin Hrbek

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