The Minibrewery Festival at Prague Castle has become increasingly popular over the past decade. Jan Šuráň from the Czech-Moravian Association of Minibreweries, which is organising the festival, says it’s an event that seeks to provide an overview of some of the best beers produced by small-breweries in the Czech Republic.
“You come, pay the CZK 600 entrance fee and get a catalogue along with a glass. After that you can just taste all the beers for free. There is a representative selection of beers from 50 Czech minibreweries, ranging from the far west of the country all the way to Ostrava in the east.”
Aside from Czech beer, the festival will include three foreign breweries as well. This year the focus is on Poland. When it comes to types of beer, visitors will be able to choose from ales, IPAs, NEIPAs, sour beers, lagers and beers that were matured in barrels used for storing other alcohols. Non-alcoholic beer will also be represented, albeit in much smaller numbers.
“We will also have catering, but the food will be there just to accompany the drinking. The beer is the dominant aspect of this festival.
“We always invite the owners and maltsters of the breweries that are on show. They come there to present their beers and provide information to guests about why and how these beverages are made. It’s a sort of gathering of beer fans and experts from across the country.”
It’s not just Czech beer lovers who visit the festival. In fact, Mr Šuráň says that it has become increasingly popular among foreigners as well as expats who live in the Czech Republic.
“Every year we get more and more of them. Last year, foreigners made up close to a third of the total visitors. We get groups from Sweden, Denmark, or from England who visit regularly. They start asking about when the event will take place as soon as the year starts.”
The popularity of the festival may come as little of a surprise to beer fans. The Czech Republic is not just renowned for its mainstream lager makers, but also for the quality of its smaller brewers, says Mr Šuráň.
“When we started 10 years ago there were less than a hundred minibreweries in this country. Finding one was rare back then. Today there is a local minibrewery present in almost every larger town and, personally, I think there is still much opportunity for further growth.
“More recently, small breweries have started exploring more exotic types of beer, such as sours flavoured with different types of fruit. There is a huge space on this front for maltsters to let their imagination run free.”
Himself a maltster at Prague’s Pivovarský Dům restaurant and brewery, Jan Šuráň recommends that visitors study the catalogue carefully and then decide how to approach the tasting process.
“We are really going to have a big variety. We have everything ranging from light cyclist’s beers, to very strong 25s which are 10 percent alcohol. Just be careful.”
The Minibrewery Festival at Prague Castle will kick off on Friday at 2pm and run until 8pm in the evening. On Saturday, opening times run from 12pm to 8pm. The festival has a capacity of 1,200 visitors per day, with half of the tickets sold online and the other half at the venue.