After our recent trip to Polička had yielded what appeared to be the perfect pint, we decided to take up the call to arms and go off to various parts of the Czech lands in search of (or at least confirmation of) the truth. And for that very reason two of us found ourselves on the 8am bus to Pelhřimov, home of a beer going by the name of Poutník, to begin what would evolve in to a stunning accomplishment of 5 breweries in one day.
Alighting on to a lonely, wind-swept bus station on the outskirts of Pelhřimov we headed in the direction of the first tall chimney we could see, only to find it stood proudly atop a furniture store. No matter, it had in fact led us to the home of FK Pelhřimov, and so of course we had a little tour before setting off in to town.
Like many Czech towns the central square is an attractive, and colourful, display of renaissance baroque architecture making any walk through a new town pleasant. Which is lucky really seeing as everything was closed at 10 on a Saturday morning. We meandered in awkward circles passing numerous Kozel, Gambrinus and Pilsner signs in search of a promising Poutník. When we finally found one bar with a large Poutník banner on the wall it was, of course, closed. We decided to stop pissing about and went straight to the heart of the matter – the brewery. It was closed. All day. The hill opposite proved a nice picture opportunity though.
We stepped around the corner and finally, and gratefully, fell in to a Poutník bar! For an impressive 20 kc we had ourselves a pint, raised it to our accomplishment and knocked back a swig of Poutník to find out it was a bit shit really. It seemed to taste better back in Brno. Disappointed, we left and walked about 30 minutes in a huge circle to find a bus stop that was actually just where we started, and had another disappointing Poutník in a bus-station bar. We jumped on to the next bus to Humpolec, home of the Bernard brewery.
What to say about Humpolec? Well, everything was closed. We didn’t really hang around long enough under the greying skies to get a feel of the place but headed straight for the Bernard brewery which, of course, was closed. The nearest Bernard bar we found just so happened to be a 4-star hotel (or was it 5?). We walked in to a massive dining hall surrounded by huge mirrors and gaudy interior decor and paid a full 35kc what was, it must be said, a decent pint. The clouds were darkening outside, and our search for the perfect pint had not been going as well as we’d hoped in the land of many great pints. And with the next stop being Jihlava, for a beer renowned for being a bit rubbish, the future did not look too bright.
The historical town of Jihlava is itself an attractive place to wander in to in the early evening. The large central square is a more expansive example of many Czech squares but with an added buzz, due in part to the one thing all Czechs seem to hate about it – the communist-built shopping centre placed slap-bang in the middle of it. Now, it could be argued that the communists didn’t really have an eye for beauty, or even any sense of space at all, but while the Czechs lament this abomination in the square others could argue it kind of ties the room together like an old greying rug your grandmother just doesn’t want to throw out. Whatever the case we sped past it at a rate of knots for the first public house we could find and out of chance landed in to a micro brewery. The Radniční was certainly a decent pint, no doubt about that. But the near empty bar, the slow lounge music, low lighting and romantic candles were putting us on edge, so we drank up, left and found the Ježek brewery.
Everyone we talked to about Ježek turned their nose up at it, but it certainly wasn’t the worst pint we had that day, and the food in the brewery bar was just excellent. After thinking we’d successfully snuck in to the home of hockey team HC Dukla Jihlava only to find out the front door was actually open, we sat ourselves down to our final pint of Ježek in the arena bar. We were really only there so one Klobása could watch the Swansea – Cardiff game and eat a second meal in as many minutes. After he and Swansea had enjoyed victory we headed home, via a quick final beer in Brno’s Pegas brewery. It ain’t a bad beer, Pegas, but the pint of the day was probably the overly expensive Bernard – a 15kc Polička it wasn’t…