Friday, October 16, 2009

Oktoberfest in Prague

The Czech Beer Festival is about to become a tradition. In May the festival will be arranged for the third time, and the arrangers anticipate that 100,000 visitors will attend next year's festival.

In the meantime the arrangers teamed up with several Czech breweries and the Panorama Hotel to arrange an Autumn tasting at the hotel in the Pankrac neighbourhood of Prague. Depending on what website you visit, the Autumn tasting or Oktoberfest in Pankrac was arranged from 2 October to 11 October. The arrangers advertised 14 different draughted beers, Czech food and live music. As I was in Prague at the time, I had to attend the event, and twice I took the metro to Pankrac to enjoy the beers and atmosphere.

As some of you might have read in my comments on Pivni Filosof's blog, I was mostly positive about the Oktoberfest in Prague. It was a nice opportunity to try various Czech beers, and the food was also very good.

Travelling to Pankrac was easy with the metro. The Oktoberfest itself was being held in a large beer tent near the hotel. I was there on the first night, and at 6PM the tent was nearly full. I went back six days later, and there were even more people there at 5PM. Both days it looked as if people had fun, and it was easy to stay for hours both days. There must have been few foreigners in the tent on both occations, and I only heard Czech spoken around me.

The waitresses did a great job. They were a smiling lot, and I felt very welcome in the beer tent. For payment, you could use the special tolars that were made for the first Czech Beer Festival in 2008. These are worth 40 CZK, and you chose whether to pay in cash or in tolars. A beer always cost a tolar, while you had to pay two or three tolars for most meals on the menu.

On both occations there was music. On the opening night a band played a lot of classic rock and pop songs. I had too much ABBA that night, but there was also another problem: The sound technician had turned the volume much too high. It was more or less impossible to have a conversation in the tent, and I could not enjoy the music. That was a shame, as the band really had some good cover versions of various popular songs.

On my second visit the band was replaced by a duo playing accordion and cornet. The duo played local music, and the only song I recognized was the classic Beer Barrel Polka. I enjoyed this much more than the band on the first night.

There were many opportunities for beers during my visits to Oktoberfest in Pankrac. Unfortunatly, they only sold various lager beers. I would have liked to have a more varied beer menu. The first night I tried the 11° Klášter světlý ležák, the 11° Ježek světlý ležák, the 12° Lobkowicz premium světlý ležák and the Platan 11° světlý ležák. The Klášter golden lager is a personal favourite of mine, and it was the best of these four beers. Platan was OK, while Ježek was a positive surprise that I went on to try several times later during my stay in Prague. Lobkowicz was also OK, but it was beaten by the other three.

The second day I ventured into kvasnicove beers by trying out the Klášter 11° kvasnicový ležák. This was a nice beer, but I prefer the normal version. I should also have tried the Rychtář natur kvasnicový ležák, but I forgot to order it while in the tent. Perhaps that will be for my next time in the Czech Republic? I also tried the 13° Comenius speciál from the Janacek brewery. I believe I was unlucky with the beer I was served, as I felt the stronger lager beer was not very good at all. A metallic taste went to the fore, and I felt it took away all other nuances in the beer. I could not drink all of it. Perhaps it was just being badly tapped?

I enjoyed being at Oktoberfest, and my second visit was the best one. I hope to be back for the beer festival in May, and am looking forward to it if I am able to go. If not, I am back in Prague in March to try some more Czech beers.


  1. In the spirit of my post today, how can you have an Oktoberfest outside of Munich???? When every city and town in the US jumps on the bandwagon as well, it really devalues the significance of the original - not a German thing but a Munich thing. Given the majority of Czechs very negative view of the Germans, it is a touch ironic that they would want to copy them in having an Oktoberfest. Did the brewers taking part brew up special beers for the festival (other than the new brand being presented of course)? Talk about being a pale imitation of the original.

  2. I totally agree with you here. There is no need to recreate Oktoberfest or other typical festivals elsewhere in the world.

    The arrangers in Prague also used the name Autumn Tasting, which in my opinion is a better name. But anyway, I had two good days at Pankrac.

    Except for the new beer brand, I did not see any special beers brewed for the festival.

  3. I felt tempted to go, but then, paying 40CZK for beers that I already know was not very appealing.

    Seems I didn't miss much, though, other than the smiling waitresses...