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30-08-2010, 19:16
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Airport and a pint with Jan, our Czech host, Adrian (http://maltworms.blogspot.com/), Tim (http://beerandpubs.wordpress.com/), Pete (http://petebrown.blogspot.com/) and Peter from the Porterhouse (http://www.porterhousebrewco.com/coventgarden.html) – we begin; flight with no working toilet making for an uncomfortable entrance into the country; hustle onto a mini bus and into the centre, dump bags in plush hotel, bust a groove to Zly časy (http://www.zlycasy.eu/) (Bad Times); meet Evan Rail (http://twitter.com/evanrail), drink a fantastic selection of beer, a sherbety Tambor (http://www.pivo-tambor.cz/) 10° with a bold Saaz hop finish, a Kocour (http://www.pivovar-kocour.cz/en/) Pale Ale, snappy branding and bold hops, trays of food, cheese and chilli, sausages cooked in beer, ribs, fantastic place; to one of the best bars I’ve been to in ages, a trip simultaneously back in time and looking to the future, the První Pivni Tramway (http://www.pivni-filosof.com/2008/06/well-connected.html) (First Beer Tramway), serving BrewDog and Matuška (http://www.pivovarmatuska.cz/) while playing football from the 80s in a bar that looks like a grubby cafe; to Jáma (http://www.jamapub.cz/pub/pub/mainmenu/mainpage/show.php?_lang=en) (The Hollow) for more Kocour, more Matuška, a whisky nightcap and a hot dog on the way home (hot dogs all round except for Adrian who had a can of Pilsner Urquell); wake up in the middle of the night and see Czech babestation is blaring light and lovelies my way, hit standby, go back to sleep; bitch of a hangover only kicks in as we jump on the minibus for an hour drive to Pilsen, hang my head towards the window in hope that the fresh air will revive me; drop bags at great, quaint hotel, back on the bus to Chodovar (http://www.chodovar.cz/id101en-hlavni-strana.htm), a tour of the cellars, the tanks cheekily poking out like bare buttocks, a not-ready special beer was passed around, making for a one-off drinking experience; this was followed by the beer spa, one of those unforgettable life experiences, lying naked in beer while drinking it (a fresh one, no bath water); back to Pilsen, a tour of the grand square before another brewery, this time Pivovar Groll (http://www.pivovargroll.cz/), brewing in the imposing shadows of Pilsner Urquell (http://www.pilsnerurquell.com/in), making a ballsy lager, hop-forward and full-bodied, a tour of the kit made us all want to stay for the night; to Pilsner Fest (http://www.pilsnerfest.cz/en/) where we attempt to break a World Record which is so ridiculously complicated that we have no idea what’s going on; dinner under the brewery, our first unfiltered Pilsner Urquell, a revelation; Jan meets his cousin and he takes us to the Small Breweries Klub (http://maltworms.blogspot.com/2010/08/unbearable-lightness-of-being-in-klub.html) which is like a taxi rank meeting an ineffective DIY-ers shed, just serving great beers to glass-chinking drinkers; morning breaks, a tour of the tunnels under Pilsen is extraordinary, a strange stage show tells us the history of Pilsner Urquell (to test the quality it was poured on a bench and if whoever sits on it gets stuck then it’s good – try seeing that acted out by two enthusiastic Czechs, speaking just Czech); more unfiltered Pilsner Urquell; a tour of the brewery, wonderfully done to appeal to everyone, the walk through the cellars is mind-blowing, almost as mind-blowing as drinking the beer from a giant oak barrel, deep underground, a mouthful of silky beer, as cold as the air around us, as intoxicating as a beautiful smile; a walk around town, a quick beer, another quick beer in Pivovar Groll; a tour of Gambrinus, the biggest-selling beer in the Czech Republic, where a guy is so happy that they’ve started tours (this is the first day) that he suggests we all sing; another unfiltered Pilsner Urquell; to Pivovar Pa (http://www.blogger.com/goog_1201794785)š (http://www.blogger.com/goog_1201794785)á (http://www.blogger.com/goog_1201794785)k (http://www.pivopasak.cz/), a tiny brewpub with coppers in the corner, a deeply fried meal and some great beer; onwards we beer travellers go, to drink Kout na Šumavě (http://www.pivovarkout.cz/eindex.html) at Pálavě, a delicious 12° unfiltered lager, smooth, a faint orange pith Saaz bitterness, delicious; to Zach’s Pub (http://www.zachspub.cz/) for 19° porter from Pardubice outside in a cool courtyard playing jazz-funk, then for more Kout (10° this time), then a spirit Becherovka which tasted like bitter Christmas Pudding; morning, urgh; a film crew, who have followed us all weekend, get us to talk to camera; we go to Pivovar Modrá Hvezda (http://www.modra-hvezda.cz/) (Blue Star), a small brewpub out of town which leaves us all buzzing with excitement after trying 5-6 of their great beers, my favourite - the 10°; to Purkmistr (http://www.purkmistr.cz/en_index.php) for lunch, beer and a brewery tour, another cracking unfiltered lager, a real glugger, great with ‘Mouth Scorcer of Cernice’ (deep fried chilli, a great beer snack); to the airport; to England; to home; to bed: to Czech Republic, wow, that was awesome.

This is the executive summary. More to follow...

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