Brewery of the month – June

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Lanius Brewery – Mierové námestie 20, 911 01 Trenčín, Slovakia

A couple of months ago, I was on a jaunt around Slovakia and decided to make my journey to Senec (to watch Wales U19s!!) a little bit easier, I took a 4hr train from Kosice to Trencin. Now, it’s a town I know well – I’ve been to the Pohoda music festival a few times, it’s got the greatest football floodlights in the country, Klub Luc is where it’s at for evening entertainment and the castle, built on top of a steep rock is one of the finest in Europe… To add to that, it now has a brewery and Lanius is June’s pivovar of the month.

They brew their various kinds of beer at house number 20 on the main square, naming the brewery after the first owner of the house, a certain Thomas Lanius, who lived there in 1649…I am not sure if it’s any coincidence, but Lanius is Latin for Butcher.. and old Tom was indeed a butcher… What are the chances…

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To provide more background to breweries in the town, there was a time in 17th century when Trencin had 40 breweries, many of them private. Now for a size of the city, that seems a few too many and with the onset of the industrial revolution of the 19th century, these were replaced by large-scale production in the modern breweries close by. By the end of the century, the last brewer had brewed his last beer in Trencin…until Lanuis produced their first beer in 2014.

After taking in the AS Trencin v Zilina game, I made my way straight to bar for some beer and nosh and I was not disappointed. Lanius usually have a selection of beers on tap and an excellent choice of food on the menu. Conservatively, I went for the 12 degree Bohemian Lager, but in hindsight I should have gone for the tasting tray as previously in the day someone had recommended their Mandarina IPA…there is always a next time.

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As with all Microbreries the prices are a little bit more than the euro you could pay for a Corgon or Saris, but there’s a lot of love that goes into making craft ales and Lanius have added that to their various beers. So, if you are in Trencin and looking for a nice place to spend the evening, we highly recommend a visit to the brewery and grab some food if you feeling a bit peckish. You won’t be disappointed.

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Our Top Ten Pubs in Brno for 2017

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In January last year we published a post on our favourite top ten pubs in Brno, which generated a lot of discussion and opened up more options of pubs for the Klobasa to visit – and indeed we did. So, following on from the popularity of that article, and following up on a few suggestions, we have returned with a new top ten. Whilst one or two of the absolute best have retained their place in our list for 2017, we have added a few new surprises for consideration.

We have chosen these 10 based on quality of beer, range of beers snacks, service, and general atmosphere.

Once again, these are merely our personal favourites, and wait with bated breath for our readers to inform us on our mistakes, errors and unbelievable admissions.

In no particular order, the Blansko Klobasa’s top ten pubs in Brno 2017…

Zastavka – Úvoz 78

Zastavka is the automatic go-to place of the Blansko Klobasa, and it is fair to say we are now locals. This bar serves one of the best pints in Brno, and an extended, ever-changing list of beers ensures endless reasons to return. The accompanying beer snacks include the infamous karbos, which are freshly made and offered to those lucky enough to be there in the mid evening. All snacks are made to perfection and are served by some of the most attentive staff in the city.

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U Tekutého chleba – Moravské nám. 755/14A

U Tekutého chleba is our most central pub on this list and probably one of the most recently opened. A no-frills pub, running on the policy of a variety of often-changing beers, it gains its popularity by consistently offering new things to try. There is both standing and seating areas, no-smoking, and a screen to watch the sports, if you so wish.

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Garage Pub – Travinky

We are still not sure if this bar actually has a name, but the owner, an artist, has turned his garage into a no frills bar serving our favourite beer, Policka. It made our top ten for the welcome from everyone. A local pub for local people, you are guaranteed a friendly welcome from the owner and his wife, if you can find it.

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U Dvou přátel – Tábor 25

This is a big favourite of ours, it’s just simply a brilliant bar with a carefully chosen selection of beer and ales and you can line your stomach with some of the classic beer snacks we are always banging on about. U Dvou Pratel is an upbeat place, the scene of some great music and a place to grab a beer and learn a bit about what’s inside the glass.

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Zubatá Žába – Jungmannova 1146/33

The ‘Toothy Frog’ is a Policka-serving pub situated in the Královo Pole district of the city. With excellent beer and a cozy atmosphere Zubata Zaba remains one of the top picks for the Blansko Klobasa. It is also close to one or two other Klobasa picks, which makes it ideal for the favourite Blansko Klobasa pub crawl.

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U Sajmona pod Hájkem – Botanická 608/28

Another new entry to our top ten, U Sajmona serves up a great glass of Chotebor not too far from our place of work. We’ve always had a great welcome and highly recommend trying some of the traditional Czech dishes with your beer.

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U MíčeStaňkova 15

It’s hard to say anything bad about U Mice – it’s opposite our office, it serves Policka. A popular place with the Brnaci and it’s not difficult to see why. Last year we recommended the cheese balls, so this time round we heartily suggest trying the roast beef sandwich.

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Lokálek – Kotlářská 265/5

Lokalek is tucked away just off Konecneho Namesti and is quite often frequented by fans of Kometa and Zbrojovka, the local sports teams. There’s a always a game on the telly and recommend any of the the beers they have on tap.

Srdcovka – Poděbradova 716/12

Srdcovka is definitely a pub with atmosphere. Laying deep inside a dark basement, the pub offers a decent few beers and a lot of classic rock music. You can also get your range of classic peer snacks to go with it. The owner is often on hand to help you with your choice of pivo.

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Schrott – Křenová 291/10

Designed with an industrialised interior, Schrott offers something a little different and is our only pub behind Brno’s central train station. A little detour under the railway bridge is worth it though, as Schrott offers an atmospheric drinking experience and a wide range of drinks. The hermelin ain’t bad either.

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Honourable mentions:

It is worth mentioning these as they are some pubs that are certainly worthy of a top ten list but narrowly missed out on ours for various reasons. Last year U Bomby was suggested to us, and while it serves excellent beer, we’re not too sure about the atmosphere on the occasions we’ve been there. Pomaly Bar was on our last year’s top 10 list but has narrowly missed out this year. Blahovka and U Capa are old favourites, especially if you like Pilsner. Zelena Kocka has a great choice of beer and some decent snacks if you want somewhere more central. The Starobrno Brewery, too, is worth visiting if you have never been before. Finally, we would like to suggest a tram ride to the pub at the FC Dosta Bystrc stadium for somewhere nice to sit in the sun on the warmers days. It is a favourite Sunday trip for the Blansko Klobasa.

Putting the ‘Bar’ in Bardejov – Travels in Eastern Slovakia, Part 1

Bardejov

Bardejov

Many years ago, in deepest, darkest Slovakia, there was a small village named Dejov. As the village grew, the demand for proprietors of fine alcohol grew with it, and thus, as the village developed in to a town, the authorities deemed it necessary to re-christen the town ‘Bardejov’, fittingly representing the ever-growing number of watering holes appearing therein.

No doubt the council website doesn’t tell quite the same story, but go and read it, if you fancy, and tell us which history you think is best. For us, Bardejov would hold the key to our weekend as it was to be the first stop on our Great Eastern Slovakian Mystery tour, covering what felt like most of the East in two days. First though, we had the small matter of actually getting there to contend with. We began our journey, as we often try to do, with two pints of Policka, gratefully consuming them on this occasion in the smokey basement atmosphere of Brno’s ‘U Sedlaka’. From here we hopped on the bus at 11.30 in the evening, hoping to sleep through most of the 7 hour journey to Košice. Ralph went out like a light, while I sat staring in to the back of my eyelids and worshiping every cigarette and piss break we made, before mercifully arriving in Košice around 6.30am.

Passing for a second time through Prešov we eventually arrived in Bardejov, full of energy and aching joints, mercilessly hunting down breakfast. As hungry and as knackered as we were, emerging on to Bardejov’s UNESCO-listed central square at 9 in the morning was simply breathtaking. The early morning sun was shining and slowly illuminating the beautiful Gothic and Renaissance buildings that surround the historic town hall and church of Sv. Aegidius (or St. Giles), casting a glow over the small, square gardens that welcome you to every shop door.

Bardejov town square

Bardejov town square

After picking up a panini and a coffee in a local cafe, we hung out for a while with the ageing worshipers who were getting ready to bash the doors in as time was ticking on in every respect. We weren’t there for the big man though, we wanted to storm that tower. Precisely because we weren’t intending put our hands together, the smiling overseer of this pillar of Godliness thought it proper we should put our hands in our pockets instead, and without fuss we happily passed him a full four euro for the two of us. We walked around the church quickly (it looking much like any other) to get our money’s worth and then went in search of the door to that tower. Having some trouble finding it we went back to the kind servant of our lord, and asked where it was. ‘Ah you want the tower.’ He replied, omnipotently ‘that’s another two euros each’. We looked at each other, and looked to the sky, but there you have it – ripped off by a man of the cloth.

No Klobasa No Party

No Klobasa No Party

We ascended the narrow, winding staircase that spun us in circles to finally burst forth among the heavens that rested over the glowing town of Bardejov for which, it has to be said, was a view worth more than euros (but don’t tell them that because if you have anything worth more than money, they’ll take it). The descent was a little more difficult (we’re not allowed to talk about that, I am told), but we finally rested on mortal ground once more and headed off to more familiar surroundings at Partizan Bardejov, where we enjoyed the view for a few moments before tasting the first beer of the day – a refreshing Šariš.

Partizan Bardejov

Partizan Bardejov

Time was against us, and so we headed back towards the bus station, marveling at the number of bars here for a relatively small town. We had time to try just one more, sitting outside in the midday sun with a Czech Bakalář. Ralph noticed that the sign hanging above the door was signaling that the place was also a hairdressers, so naturally asked for two beers and a haircut, please. The staff, already bemused by our arrival looked at him with complete confusion, asking him to repeat his absurd request. There are now at least two Bardejovians who think it’s common to get a beer and a haircut in your local British boozer.

“Better three hours too soon, than one minute too late”, said Shakespeare, apparently. Whatever the case it is a sentiment that Ralph lives by and thus why we found ourselves literally running through Prešov. I was told this town was boring, but my glimpse of it was – busy town, lots of people, lots of pubs, first brewery – Prešovský (not bad beer, good staff), second brewery – Mariannus (dull atmosphere, average beer), Tatran Prešov (stadium), bus, breath, bus, Moldava nad Bodvou, breath.

Prešov

Prešov

We stopped here in Moldava nad Bodvou long enough to grab another Šariš in a sports bar, but our main reason for stopping in the run-down town was football. FK Bodva were hosting Košice II in the Slovak 3rd league. Now, Ralph is convinced that if you speak Czech with a Scottish accent then you’re basically speaking Slovak and so made hilarious use of it at every communicative opportunity, and I am forced to admit it seemed to work, so much so that the ticket sellers at the gate believed he was Slovak – or at the very least, Czech (I’ve since tried this theory in the Czech Republic and no one can understand me, so maybe its true). His accent can’t work miracles though as we discovered when we tried to buy some food, a klobasa of course, and the response of the teenage girls in the kiosk was that of laughter, as they looked down the menu to see if they even sold them. We just waved the embarrassment away and thought we’d save ourselves for later. An entertaining game ended in a 1-3 home defeat with Moldava’s number 23 looking particularly impressive. The sun had lowered behind the hills at this point and left us feeling the cold. We sped off again to the bus station and made our way to Košice, where we would be staying in the Penzion Grand.

Moldava

FK Bodva

It was evening by the time we arrived in Košice, strolling along the bustling main street and past the striking St. Elisabeth Cathedral. We stopped off for a quick beer in a half decent cafe whose name escapes me now, before moving on to the originally named Mama Mia restaurant for a decent pizza but disappointing last pint – a uninspired Krušovice. Four towns and a multitude of beers conquered, we struggled to the hotel to sleep the days excitement off in anticipation of breakfast in Košice, and yet more of Eastern Slovakia to be explored…

FC Tatran

FC Tatran

 

"Follow your heart"

“Follow your heart”

 

Rajecko – away with Dosta Bystrc.

 

Cerna Hora Brewery

Cerna Hora Brewery

Saturday had been quite demanding. Blansko at home in the afternoon followed by Zbrojovka Brno v Sparta Praha, so unsurprisingly, I slept through my alarm and was woken up by the sound of my phone at 9.30. Having missed a couple of trips, Craggy was eager to get back on the horse and ride off to the South Moravian village of Rajecko (via the Cerna Hora brewery). Well, when I say ride, I don’t actually mean that as we don’t have a horse.

The Cerna Hora brewery dates back to 1298 and is one of the most popular local beers in South Moravia, which makes it strange that this is our first trip here. To  ease the delicate head, we decided to take the  30 minute walk from central Brno to the suburb of Kralove Pole, where a bus would be waiting to deliver us to out first destination of the trip. Things don’t always go to plan, but sure enough, upon arrival at the bus station, there was the 107 ready to drop us off at the brewery. The journey along the long winding road, up  and out over Brno took just over 25 minutes , but more importantly….directly to the brewery, an absolutely blooming marvellous service.

Stepping off the bus, we found ourselves immediately admiring the building from the bus stop (we do have a thing for Czech breweries as you may have guessed) before slowly making our way across to check it out in closer detail and to get our hands on the local pint. Now, in the previous paragraph, I had mentioned how well trip had started. Well, here’s where, in true TBK style, we hit our first glitch. The brewery was closed for a private function and we were pointed in the direction of a window. Not any old window, but one selling beer, local beer. “Two bottles of your finest 10degree lager, please?” The old man serving us immediately cottoned on that my accent was not local and in true 1990s style saw a chance to make a quick buck. “200k??!!” …Now… had this been a brewery in Scandinavia, I would have gladly handed over the equivalent and taken the two bottles. But this was not Copenhagen, this was Cerna Hora in South Moravia. “200kc?, are you sure” I asked, somewhat surprised. “Ohh, sorry, I meant 34kc” he responded, finally realising that my Czech was perhaps slightly better than my accent had first suggested. Without wishing to make a thing about this, as I love living in this area – this is the second time this season that somebody has tried to make a financial gain at hearing us speaking a foreign tongue. A month or so earlier, we were walking from the train station in Skalica, Slovakia and a local woman had asked us for two euros. The reason, quite simply she had heard us speaking English and that we “must” have it. Later we discovered that 2 euros was the exact amount needed to get into the local beer festival, if she had mentioned that I would have gladly paid her entrance.. Anyway, I digress.. it is merely an observation. So, beers in hand and with no pub in the village open, we went to find a map and to work out exactly where we were heading next. Most people would take a scenic route and  we had plenty of time to find a footpath, but as regular readers will know, we never do it the easy way. We took the main road, dodging oncoming Skodas and bemused cyclists as we made our way to the first village, Rajec Jestrebi, relieved to be alive and in search of a pub.

A person's pub is their castle, or something like that

A person’s pub is their castle, or something like that

Rajec Jestrebi is well known to me (but unfortunately, I can’t share the details publicly) and is also famous as it hit the news worldwide last year, when a local man, who had perhaps had one two many, was hit by an express train and survived. He did lose a shoe and possibly hopped home, but he was otherwise unharmed. Some of you might call that a miracle. (link to man and train -http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/czechrepublic/10780649/Pensioner-hit-by-train-at-level-crossing-but-only-loses-shoe.html )

After successfully navigating our way out of the pub and crossing the the train track without being hit by the 14.05 express to Prague, we were back on the road to Rajecko.  Making good time, it wasn’t long before a TBK sticker had been  planted on the sign welcoming us to the village.

“Now, where’s the ground?” Craggy asked.

I was about to ask google maps for an answer, but we saw a definite sign that we weren’t far away. A couple head to toe in Dosta Bystrc’s green and white were asking a villager the same  question and naturally we followed them, hoping that they weren’t heading to Aunt Maureen’s for a cup of tea before the game started.

At the turnstile, we paid the 30 crowns entrance, bought a beer and a sausage and made our way around to ground to the small stand and now home to about 30 Dosta Ultras for the day, a couple of former players and a huge drum.  Shortly after taking our seats, the first cry of “Dostaaaaa Bystrc” greeted  the players as they made their way to the centre of the pitch for the obligatory  pre match wave to the fans.

Armed to the teeth with Kofola

Armed to the teeth with Kofola

The game itself was how we  expected, Bystrc dominating the game and very quickly taking the lead with a goal from the prolific Petr Musil and then missing a hatful of first half chances… much to the frustration of Petr Sip, their ex defender sat in front of us.

“Those first half misses might come back to haunt them” Sip said at half-time and he was right. The second half was a completely different story with Olympic Rajecko camped in the Bystrc half and after some dubious refereeing decisions, they  managed to grab an equaliser with little over 10 minutes left on the clock.

Now, most of the crowd were expecting a grandstand finish, but the players had different ideas and decided that 1-1 was a fair result and on 89 minutes the referee decided enough was enough and blew the final whistle. Welcome to the Krajsky Prebor.

With the train back to Brno not due for a further half an hour, we used the time to grab a couple more beers in the old mill, close to the train station and for me to find a WIFI connection to watch the rest of the Swansea game. A good day out.

TBK

TBK