Friday, July 18, 2008

Prague is Beerlicious!

Prague is the capital of the Czech Republic. Bordered by Germany, Austria, Slovakia, and Poland, it's home to 1.21 million people and some great Czech beer. In fact, the Czech Republic has a long and important history.

In 1842 a brewery in Plzeň hired a German brewer by the name of Josef Groll who was experienced in the then new method of brewing cold fermentation lager. Using soft Bohemian water, very pale malt, and Saaz hops, Groll brewed the first batch of a light colored beer that would become the world famous Pilsner Urquell on 5 October 1842.

More fun beer facts about the Czech Republic:
  • A brewery existed in the region as far back as 1118
  • The city of Brno had a right to brew beer from the 12th century
  • Both Plzeň and České Budějovice (Pilsen and Budweis in German) had breweries dating back the 13th century
  • It has the highest beer consumption per capita in the world. Czech's like their beer.
As luck would have it (or is it beer karma?) Zane Lamprey, the greatest host of the greatest show in all the land did an episode in the Czech Republic (Season Two, Episode Three). So why not visit the land of beery goodness for yourself?!

This from Budget Travel:

The Real Deal: Round-trip airfare, six nights' accommodations, some meals, and guided tours, from $1,999 per person — plus taxes of about $399.

When: April 1-Oct 31, 2009; other dates are available upon request.

The Fine Print (always read the fine print): Buffet breakfast daily, three-course welcome and farewell dinners with beer, hotel taxes, airport-hotel transfers, and all other transportation by motor coach, sightseeing tours, and select entrance fees as per itinerary are included. Airport taxes are an additional $135 per person, and fuel surcharges are an additional $264 per person. Based on double occupancy and a group of at least 20 travelers. Single supplement is $545. Read these guidelines before you book any Real Deal.

Book By: No deadline; based on availability.

Contact: Austrian Airlines Vacation Center, 800/790-4682,

Why it's a Real Deal: A recent Kayak search for round-trip travel to Prague in April 2009 yielded a fare of $661 from New York City (United/Austrian Airlines), including tax. For an additional $1,737, Austrian Airlines covers airfare as well as six night's accommodations, some meals, sightseeing tours, excursions to breweries, local transportation, and all taxes.

Trip Details: The Here for the Beer group package includes round-trip airfare on an Austrian Airlines' carrier and six nights' accommodations in Prague at the 226-room Ibis Karlin or a similar hotel. The Karlin is in walking distance to the Krizíkova metro station, and a 10-minute ride separates the hotel from the historic center.

The trip features two half-day tours of Prague. The first will take you to Old Town Square, a charming and well-preserved market square that dates back to the Middle Ages. While there, you'll get to see one of the city's most popular attractions: a medieval astronomical clock, Orloj, mounted on the southern wall of Old Town City Hall.

The second half-day tour covers the Castle District, from the 18th-century Loretto Square to the Old Castle Steps, with stops at the Archbishop's Palace, the Hradcany Hall, the gothic St. Vitus Cathedral, the Royal Palace, St. George's Basilica, and Lobkowicz Palace at Jirská Street.

In keeping with the trip's theme — beer — you'll get to take a behind-the-scenes look at four of the country's famed breweries. You'll begin with a visit to the U Fleku brewery, founded in 1499, where you'll tour the brewing house, the traditional fermentation center, and the renovated exhibition area that has antique equipment and tools. The tour concludes with a three-course traditional Czech dinner and a beer at the U Fleku restaurant.

Na Zdravi!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

One year and still going... sort of.

Guess what I forgot about? It's been one year since I tapped into the beer life and started this blog. I guess the fact that it's grown by hops and bounds is a good thing. And as I've gotten busier -- writing about beer on a myriad of other sites -- the little blog that started it all has felt the brunt. I apologize for that. Sadly, the next few weeks aren't going to get much better, but stick around. By the beginning of August things should be back to some degree of normalcy. With that... here are just a few things I want to pass along:

Prospective Cicerones

Since people from across the nation have expressed interest in becoming a Certified Cicerone, Ray Daniels is expanding the number of exams this fall. This four-hour test will be held in the following cities (exact dates and times to follow):

  • Boston (October or November, Monday night)
  • New York (Manhatten) (October or November, Sunday during day)
  • Philadelphia (October or November, Saturday during day)
  • Chicago (September and November, Sunday during day)
  • Kalamazoo/Ann Arbor/Detroit, MI (September and November, time TBD)
  • San Diego (North county, Saturday during day)
  • Oakland/Berkley (Sunday during day)
  • Seattle (Monday evening)
  • Denver: several sessions around GABF - Sunday Oct 5, during day; Friday Oct 10, during day; Sunday Oct 12, during day.

Speaking of GABF

Tickets for the 2008 Great American Beer Festival are now on sale. I'm a big time beer geek, and even I am having a hard time justifying the prices they're asking for admission. Evening Sessions (Thursday - Saturday) run from 5:30 to 10pm. For a mere $50 you get the "privilege" of imbibing hundreds of different beers for 4 1/2 hours with thousands of your closest friends in a noisy, raucous auditorium. The Members Only session on Saturday (12:30 - 4:30pm) is a ridiculous $78. I'm sorry... I love beer and the beer life, but not that much. Hopefully I can snag a press pass (if they exist) and get in on one of the sessions in order to write up "experience" pieces for the rest of you not fortunate enough to have the King of Beerfests in your back yard.

Once, Twice, Three Times a Brewery

The countdown to the opening of Colorado Springs newest beervana spot -- Trinity Brewing Company -- has begun. Jason and Todd received their State Liquor License to brew beer and they're in full on hire mode to get people on board, trained and ready to serve all the beery goodness they can come Friday, August 1. If you're looking for a job and want to work at what will surely become the hottest place to hang out in Colorado Springs, check out their website pronto like.

Phantom Canyon goes Ape!

Colorado Springs' Phantom Canyon Brewing Company (owned by Denver's Wynkoop if you didn't know) tapped two new brews... a Czech style pilsner and a smoked porter. The Pre-Prohibition may be a lighter brew, but at 6.7% ABV this pils packs a punch. The Silverback Smoked Porter has smooth smoked roasted flavors. Wynkoop has partnered up with the Denver-based Mountain Gorilla Conservation Fund to raise money for the endangered mountain gorillas of Africa. From now until the end of October if you buy a pint of Silverback Porter 25% of the proceeds goes to the Mountain Gorilla fund. So drink a pint of smoked porter and help save an ape!