Brewery of the Month – August

Pivovar Ogar – Kunčice pod Ondřejníkem

“Why don’t you come up to Čeladná and stay with us for a week? We can hit a few golf balls and there’s a great brewery a three wood away”

Now I still have no idea how far “a 3 wood away” is and I have no desire to be the next Rory McIlroy, but I was sold on the opportunity to try a new beer.

The brewery in question was the Ogar Brewery in Kuncice pod Ondrejnikem. It was founded in 2016 on the site of the old cinema in the village and after a year of renovating the building, it was opened under the name of Pivovar Kuncice with the original recipes taken from U Richarda, a brewery situated in Sobesice, near Brno. Over the year and with more expertise, the head brewer started to add more of their own recipes and boy, can we recommend them.

Earlier this year, the brewery settled on the name Ogar, with a focus on lager and ales. My recommendation is the very tasty amber ale; however, you can’t go wrong with any of the choices. For a place so young, they really have come up with some fine craft beers and ales in such a short time.

The one thing that did surprise us was that should be have a bit of spare time and cash, you can brew your own beer from start to finish under the guidance of the brewer. The beer style, colour, bitterness and fermentation are for you to decide… although we think the minimum you can produce is 500 litres.

In addition to the above, you can enjoy the selection of mighty fine beers in the brewery pub. There is a local food menu to go with it, served in a friendly atmosphere with a lovely view of the surrounding hills. If your are just looking for a snack to go with your drink, we recommend the homemade crisps and cheese dip or the pickled camembert. Both were perfect with our pints.

Finally, we have to mention the team – having enjoyed ourselves so much, we missed the last connecting bus back to Čeladná and with the local taxi firm an hour away, the head waiter took pity on us and offered a lift back our accommodation after he finished his shift. Now that’s what I call service.

Blansko put Rosice to Bed(nář)

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Our second home game of the season, saw the return of The Blansko Klobasa’s Chris “Wingy” Wing to the Udolni stadium, Here’s his report on the Rosice home game. Good to have you back Wingy.

New season, new Blansko. There have been big changes at Udolni since last season, especially as the club seem to have got some money from down the back of the sofa. Many familiar faces have gone, or have been relegated to squad members, (and with them a good 60% of our songs). Most difficult to take for TKB was the loss of perennial favourite, Honza Trtílek, who has now moved on to Rosice, whom we were playing next. Now, if we are honest (and we try to be), Honza has not really been firing on all cylinders for quite some time due to some recurrent injury problems holding him back. But sometimes fans are more sentimental than practical, and the change will probably do him some good. We will still miss seeing him playing in Blansko’s colours. Good luck to you, Honza.

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What has made up for the loss of some favourites are the replacements who have come in. In the opening game (which I missed, due to being in Berlin at the time) we hammered Humpolec 5-1, despite going a goal down. The other Klobasas were there, and reported that FKB were in complete control, and never looked like losing. Likewise in the following game, which Ralph and Craggy also saw (me being in Slovakia this time), and resulting in a less emphatic, but still deserved, 1-0 away win at Lanžhot. Now, as regular readers of this blog are aware of, The Klobasa have a soft spot for Rosice. It’s a nice little town to visit (apart from the massive flight of steps linking the station to the main street. But that’s another story…), has a terrific little ground which we are rather jealous of, and some of the best, and the most fanatical home fans you’ll see at this level (although I am assured by the other Klobasas that Lanžhot’s fans were mightily impressive too). It’s actually quite strange really – you get small towns like Rosice and Lanžhot that have fans with passion and enthusiasm, but you also get places which are much bigger, like Vyškov and Přerov, where it’s like watching a game in a public library. I just don’t get it at all.

Our other reason for liking Rosice is that Blansko always seem to do well against them – we seem to reserve some of our most impressive performances for this fixture. And this game was no exception. Rosice were sitting pretty at the top of the league at start of play, having won their previous game 8-1. So, there was a little trepidation as to how this one was going to go. But our doubts were unfounded. Blansko bossed this from the start, playing some very impressive flowing football, and it was no great surprise when we took the lead on 16 minutes. The very impressive Dominik Urbančok picked up the ball about 20 metres out, and hit it arrow-straight into the bottom right corner of the net. (So accurate was it that both Craggy and I let out a little sigh of disappointment, having thought it had just hit the side-netting). And it only took another 6 minutes for the game to be effectively over, as a Blansko corner was blatently handled , with new Captain Fantastic, David Bednař, easily converting the resulting penalty (it’s a mark of how quickly he has been accepted by the Klobasa that he has his own song already). Blansko were now in complete control of the game, with Rosice at a loss how to break down our stalwart back-four, and us looking like we were going to score every time we attacked. Once again, young Dominik Smerda was outstanding on the wing (we are surely not going to be able to hang on to him for too long. He really deserves to be playing at a higher level).Although he was taken off at half-time, presumably because he had taken a knock.

The second half started a little disjointedly, probably as a result of Smerda’s absence, but we soon settled down, and further goals were to come, first from Chloupek, and a second for Bednař, who was without doubt Man of the Match. Another positive sign is a very healthy crowd of nearly 500.All in all, a good day.

So, we retained our 100% start to the season. And thus far we look more than capable of winning this league. Let’s see what the next few weeks bring.

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Making the most of Presov time in East Slovakia

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A free weekend upon us and a long one at that, I began to toy with idea of seeing East Slovakia again. It had been a while since we’d seen each other, so toy no further – I went ahead and booked myself on the midnight sleeper train out of Olomouc.

I am big fan of a train with a bed – last September I had met up with my Wales away companion, Glen ,for 14hr trip from Bucharest to Chisinau to watch our international team. This time it also includes a Wales side: the u19s were/are playing in the Slovakia Cup – any opportunity to watch Wales in Central Europe and I am there.. this time with Trnava-dwelling Matt LostBoyo.

The six hour journey ended early. Difficulty sleeping and a bit of early morning research gave me the option of disembarking at Poprad station and getting a 5,30 bus to Spissky Podhradie, a pretty town sitting beneath the beautiful Spissky Hrad, the 6th largest castle on the planet and a world heritage site.

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Everything was going according to plan, the SAD bus took me on 50 minute journey right to the foot of the hill I needed to hike. The only hiccup was that I knew I would be the only soul up there so early in the morning, and I was unsure whether the castle keeper (do they still exist?) would let me in. Undeterred, I began the climb and as I reached the top I saw the gates open – result. Of course, my excitement of having the whole place to myself was short-lived as I was greeted by the angriest Slovak in the history of Slovakia…
“What are you doing here?” she barked at me.
I walked a bit further pretending not to hear/understand her.
She raised her voice a bit more, probably waking the sleepy village below. At this point she took my arm and lead me back to gate, pointing aggressively at a sign with the opening hours. I wonder if that’s how it worked with the castle back in the 12th century.
“We’d love to commence battle now, but unfortunately the castle is closed until 9.00am. Could you come back a bit later?” pointing the attacking army in the direction of the nearest cafe…

I went into charm offensive – actually replace that with begging. I begged her to let me in for 10 minutes to have a look around and to take some photos. “Mrs Castle keeper, I have travelled overnight just to see this castle. Please, 10 minutes just to get a view from the tower…” Another couple of minutes of explaining my need to get in and suddenly I saw a chink in her armour.
“Ahh, you are not Czech?”
“No, I am from Wales”.
“Come on in, would you like a cup of tea?” Well, she didn’t offer me a cuppa, I made that bit up, but not being from a neighbouring country had gained me access to a castle well worthy of making it into UNESCO. She did follow me around for the entire tour, but I got a “hello” in English when we said goodbye.

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Whenever I am lucky enough to visit the region, I always try and fit in as much as possible. However, if I described the trip in detail, you would nod off before I got to the end of the first day. What I can tell you is that when you are next over here, go to Levoca. It’s a beautiful town with both Gothic and renaissance architecture dominating the main square.

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My first game of the weekend was a relegation battle between Tatran Presov and ZP Sport Podbrezova in the top flight. I had hoped the game would be played in the (I think) oldest stadium in Slovakia, but Presov are currently exiled 40 miles away in Poprad at the newest stadium in Slovakia. Disappointed, well not that much, I had lunch in Kezmarok and spent a couple of prematch hours in Poprad’s two breweries, which are both within walking distance from each other on the main drag. Now, at this point I don’t want to be critical, but it’s been noticeable that on previous trips to the region the customer service, although friendly, has been incredibly slow. I discussed this with a friend of mine recently and she described it as relaxed. My tip is, if you are in a rush, order your food and drink and get the bill. It’s not a rant, it’s an observation, honest. And I am sure we will review one of the breweries in the next month or so.

To the game… well, the quality was poor. The highlight of the game was the stadium, the backdrop is stunning and I often caught myself gazing at the High Tatra mountains rather than watching two teams struggle to play the game. Podbrezova took the lead in the 21st minute. However, I can’t really tell you whether it was against the run of play as there wasn’t much “play” to speak of. The handful of Tatran ultras banged their drum, sang a few songs to try and raise the performance of their team, but I can not recall the side creating a single chance until the 90th minute when they equalised through their substitute, a lanky defender named Maduka Udeh. Thrown up front as very much a last throw of the dice, Udeh somehow got on the end of a cross to head home with his first touch of the ball. The ref, probably aware I had a train to catch, blew his whistle not too long after. I swear he gave me a nod to say “take the train and head east, my friend” – And head east I did.

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I spent the evening in Kosice – the largest town in the East and with one of the largest central drags in Europe. Hlavna Ulica (translation “the main street”) is a bustle of activity with the people of Kosice taking up residence in many of the street bars, restaurants and cafes. I decided to take a left at the cathedral and find Golem, one of the three breweries in the city. Worth a visit, if you are ever in the area.

Sad to stay, I didn’t get much of chance to explore the city… the lack of sleep on the overnight train and possibly one too many beers meant I was in bed just a few minutes after midnight. A great day out.

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Brewery of the Month – July

While we are of course bound to the finesse of Czech brewing traditions, we do enjoy trips across borders to see what’s brewing in other lands. With a free weekend ahead of us we decided to travel to Slovakia’s capital city of Bratislava to see how many breweries we could manage, and to give you our second Slovak brewery post this year.

In fact, we actually managed 5 breweries but our first stop was our priority – we wanted to spend some of the warm summer day sat on the calm lull of the Danube (Ralph’s favourite river), at the Dunajský pivovar.

The most immediately striking thing about the Dunajský pivovar is simply that it is on a boat. Sitting on the deck, enjoying the morning sun with a fresh lager brewed on the flow of one of Europe’s most stunning rivers, is a gratifying experience. We did try to pick the perfect table but were immediately asked to move as there were only two of us and it was a big table. So we were shifted to a small table round the corner. No problem – we were still sat staring at the river and city before us.

Introduced in 2014 by it’s older brother, the Patrónsky pivovar, the Dunajský brewery sits on the Petržalka side of Bratislava, and doubles up as a ‘botel’. It also has a restaurant offering taditional food. We were only here for the beer though, and as neither of us are fans of the ‘tmavy’ (dark) beer we went for the standard 11,5 degree lager instead. Although perhaps not the best beer in the city, it certainly wasn’t bad, and a cold brew was certainly much welcomed on this fine summer’s day. The restaurant itself is a bit posh for our simple tastes, and the service was a relaxed pace, but the atmosphere of the Danube is second to none.