News, Nuggets & Longreads for 5 May 2018: Bernard, Budweiser, Broken Bones

Here’s everything that grabbed our attention over the past week in the world of beer and pubs, from #MeToo to George Washington.

First, via @niccipeet, a star­tling sto­ry from the Czech Repub­lic by Kasia Pilat for the New York Times:

A social media post­ing by a major Czech brew­ery that appeared to mock the #MeToo move­ment has prompt­ed strong reac­tions, draw­ing praise, crit­i­cism and some soul-search­ing on sex­ism in this for­mer com­mu­nist repub­lic.… The Face­book post by the Bernard Brew­ery in Humpolec, about an hour’s jour­ney from Prague, fea­tures the like­ness of a near­ly tooth­less old woman with the hash­tag #MeToo super­im­posed in white. “The world’s gone crazy,” reads the Czech-lan­guage text on the post, which is also embla­zoned with the brewery’s logo. “Brace your­selves.”

In the UK Bernard beers have fair­ly gener­ic brand­ing – almost bland – and it’s hard to con­nect this kind of adver­tis­ing, and the fol­low-up com­ments from the brew­ery, with the stuff you see on sale at the Sheffield Tap and else­where. Anoth­er reminder (along with the reac­tion to this) that oth­er places and cul­tures can often be in dif­fer­ent places to yours on these issues.

Broken wrist X-Ray.

We’ve been miss­ing Kirst Walker’s posts but it turns out there was a good rea­son: she broke her wrist per­form­ing on stage, as she explains in this typ­i­cal­ly enter­tain­ing piece on how booze and painkillers mix, or, rather, how they don’t:

I was wor­ried about some plans I might have to can­cel so I asked the sur­geon how soon I could go about my nor­mal life after the oper­a­tion.… He assured me I could still go to Lon­don to see Hamil­ton and looked affront­ed that I doubt­ed his skills in repair­ing me. My next trip ‘out’ after the oper­a­tion was three days lat­er when I went to see Niall Horan in con­cert. There I stood at the back tak­ing full advan­tage of my invalid sta­tus to get my cousin to run to the bar for me. I had one pint of John Smiths in a plas­tic cup and lat­er felt like my dreams were run­ning out of my ears. That’s when I reduced the dose of codeine.

Oh, that turn of phrase! Won­der­ful.

Con­tin­ue read­ing “News, Nuggets & Lon­greads for 5 May 2018: Bernard, Bud­weis­er, Bro­ken Bones”

Inspired by a memory of a taste

Inside U Fleku, Prague.

As we neared the end of the lager brew­ing sea­son (the point when our util­i­ty room stops being cold) we decid­ed to make some­thing dark, and the beer that came to mind – what we found our­selves crav­ing – was the one at U Fleku in Prague.

We did some research online and found a few recipes, all wild­ly dif­fer­ent, and cross-ref­er­enced them to come up with the fol­low­ing.

Malt: 4kgs Weyermann’s Pre­mi­um Pil­sner Malt (EBC 3–5); 0.5kg Munich Malt (EBC 20); 0.5kg Crys­tal; 0.3kg Choco­late (EBC 500).
Hops: 50g Pio­neer 9.4% (90 mins); 50g Lib­er­ty 3.6% (20 mins); 50g Lib­er­ty 3.6% (5 mins).
Yeast: White Labs WLP800.
Notes: sin­gle decoc­tion mash.

With­out going into tons of detail, this all worked very nice­ly but, when we took it out of sec­ondary fer­men­ta­tion ready to bot­tle, our hearts sank: it in no way resem­bled U Fleku. It had that home­brew smell and taste; it was too pale; it was like a crap­py Eng­lish bit­ter.

We put five litres into a polypin and dry-hopped it, hop­ing to res­cue at least a por­tion. The rest we bot­tled, just in case a mir­a­cle might occur…

The first glim­mer of hope came when we tapped the polypin and, despite a lin­ger­ing ‘home­brew­ness’, found it kind of mor­eish. We drank the lot. Sure­ly, though, this was just the dry-hop­ping at work, mak­ing the best of a bad lot?

Then, last night, with low expec­ta­tions, we opened the first bot­tle and were delight­ed to find that a trans­for­ma­tion had tak­en place. In an appro­pri­ate­ly Mit­tel-Euro­pean han­dled glass, it looked dark­er, clear as a bell and healthy red-brown. The head was like  meringue. Tast­ing it didn’t quite take us back to U Fleku, but it cer­tain­ly made us feel that, if we were to go out­side, a tram might be pass­ing, on its way to a grand square some­where near­by.

The moral of the sto­ry? Er… bot­tle it any­way and hope for the best?

We asked Velky Al of Fug­gled fame for an appro­pri­ate­ly Czech name and he sug­gest­ed “Odštěpek” which he tells us means “a chip off the old block”. Thanks, Al!

U Fleku lives up to expectations

From cool back street beer bars to the great­est tourist trap in the world – U Fleku.

The first time I came to Prague, I was on a school trip in the mid-nineties. My well-trav­elled his­to­ry teacher point­ed it out to us and said that it was the best pub in the world.

The sec­ond time I came to Prague, I was with a lot of Pol­ish stu­dents, and we there­fore spent most of the time look­ing for places where we could get a pint for 15 crowns or less. U Fleku was not on the agen­da.

The third time I came to Prague, in 2003, I was with Bai­ley, and we actu­al­ly got through the door. We weren’t beer geeks at the time, but it’s in all the tourist books any­way, and I’d remem­bered what my his­to­ry teacher said. We took one look at the hun­dreds of Ger­man tourists, the oom­pah band and the sneery wait­ers, and fled.

This time, we were deter­mined to give it a go, hav­ing read up on it from var­i­ous beer sources and hav­ing con­sult­ed our res­i­dent Prague experts. We picked Mon­day dur­ing the day to avoid the mad­ness. How­ev­er, it’s nev­er too ear­ly for oh-so-friend­ly accor­dion play­ers and wait­ers bear­ing trays of Bechorov­ka. Every­one seemed to know about the “free shots” scam (they’re not free) but that didn’t stop a wait­er com­ing round every five min­utes to try again. And they’re bloody per­sis­tent, too.

Which is all a big pity, as the beer is absolute­ly gor­geous, def­i­nite­ly one of my all time favourites. I was remind­ed of Fuller’s Lon­don Porter, with its mix of trea­cly sweet­ness and fruity sour­ness. Love­ly, love­ly stuff. It’s a shame we could only put up with the awful pushy, sleazy atmos­phere for the time it took to drink two rounds.