Brewery of the month – January

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Pivovar Svatý Florian, Loket – T. G. Masaryka 136, 357 33 Loket

Introducing for 2018, our new regular feature – Brewery of the month. As we regularly travel to all corners of the Czech Republic (and further afield), we have decided to focus on one brewery every month of the year for 2018.

First up for this is year the Pivovar Svatý Florian in the magical town of Loket, nestled in an elbow of the Ohře River flowing through the Karlovy Vary region of the Czech Republic. This area previously belonged to the Sudetenland and is as historically significant as it is breathtaking.

The brewery sits atop a bridge which reaches over the river below. Housed in a striking historical building a stones throw from the castle (like everything else in Loket, actually) the brewery is popular with German tour groups but still makes a nice stop for solo travellers or small groups. Decent 11 degree lager and generous portions of food make it a worthwhile stop, especially in a grey and cold January. Tell them we sent you.

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Opa(va)tunity Knocks in Silesia

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17th November is a significant date in Czech history. 1989 spelt the end of 41 years of communism and the start of a new era in Czechoslovakia, as it was back then.

It’s also a state holiday and an opportunity for us to head north to Opava for some Friday afternoon football. We’d learned earlier in the week that the governing body for football in Moravia and Silesia had decided in their wisdom that Blansko’s season would end last Saturday, denying Craggy a final game of the season and the rest of us a chance to meet up with our pals at Slovan Rosice. However, a quick perusal of the fixture list brought up an intriguing game between SFC Opava and Hradec Králové. We also knew that there were a couple of breweries in town, so that was us sold.

Oh and before we forget, we should thank Czech Railways for providing us with free travel, thanks to their points system.

Trips like these require a bit of research and one of our students recommended the castle in Hradec nad Moravici, a 15 minute train journey from Opava. After missing out on the castle in Letovice on our last TBK day out, we were keen to make amends and even though we were on a tight schedule, we knew it would be possible.

7.00 am on a Friday morning, you would expect Brno train station to be fairly quiet… well, think again. The whole of Brno had decided to leave for the day and on our train too. We were not too sure where they were all going, but they had brought enough okurky to feed the entire Czech Republic.

First stop was a favourite train station of ours – Ostrava Svinov, the basis of deciding what makes a good train station is it’s pub and Svinov has two, so what’s not to like. A quick Radegast and we were on the train to Opava, a lovely town on the Czech/Polish border and the historical capital of Czech Silesia. During World War 2, it became an independent city and part of Nazi Germany. For some of the older generation, German is still their first language.

As mentioned above, we like to try and fit some culture and history into every trip, so upon arrival at Opava Východ we hailed a taxi and went to Hradec nad Moravici to see the castle, just to see it as from October to April all castles are closed here. Our Taxi driver raced through the country lanes, he must have felt the urgency of our trip or just wanted to be another Nigel Mansell. A friendly guy, he told us that he used to play football until he was seriously injured in a car crash. At this point we asked him to slow down a bit as with the current situation at FK Blansko, we may be asked to play this season.

At the castle, we were greeted by a bus load of Austrian tourists or given their age, they might have been from Opava. We explored the grounds, took some photos and walked down the hill into the town centre for a late-morning beer. The only place open was the “cultural house” which had been recently converted into a Chinese restaurant and we were the only paying customers. When our beers arrived we knew exactly why we were on our own… the house beer was Staropramen. Friends of the blog will know that we that we rate this beer as one of the worst in the country (possibly only Vyškov ranks lower).

Drinks paid for and to get an idea of our bearings I asked the waitress if she could point us in the direction of the train station, which surprisingly she didn’t know the answer to. It was a bizarre conversation and one which made us question her employment contract. Her Czech was poor and the impression we both had was living and working in Hradec nad Moravici was not her choice.

On the way to the train station we found a much more pleasant drinking den in Pivníce na Staré poště, where the beer was better and full of pub regulars enjoying a midday drink. Radegast 12s downed we continued to the train station where a single carriage train full of Opava fans took us back into town.

We followed the crowds of football fans along the Opava river to the stadium. It struck me as I was walking to the ground how much I miss the stream of scarf wearing supporters walking and talking on their way to the ground. When you follow a smaller team, you see just one of about 50 regulars and very rarely do we meet other supporters on our strolls to various football “arenas”. Oh, and I love floodlights and Opava have four beauties.

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Now, I am writing this in January, so the details of the game are hard to recall, but what I can tell you is the game was five goal thriller and definitely the best game we have seen for a while. Hradec took the lead twice and with 5 minutes remaining, the home team scored twice to take the three points. It was 90 minutes of scintillating football and an added bonus was the club were handing out free beer, well it was a bonus until we became aware that the free beer was in fact Gambrinus. We apologise for becoming pivo snobs, but there are a few breweries that are definitely a “no thanks” and two of them we’ve mentioned in today’s blog.

We followed the sea of yellow and blue back into the centre of Opava bidding them farewell on Pivovarská (Brewery Street) as we had one more item on our tick list before heading back to South Moravia, the microbrewery Nová Sladovna.

On my previous visit, some 11 years ago, the old brewery was still standing, however in 2007 the Ministry of Culture refused its application to become a listed building and it was knocked down and in its place a huge ugly modern shopping centre was built in 2010. The old Opava beer “Zlatovar” is still produced, not in the city, but miles away in Uhersky Brod.

Neither of us are fans of modern shopping centres, but this one was home to Nová Sladovna and with feeling a bit peckish and thirsty, we swallowed our pride and joined city shoppers and a handful of Opava football fans in the pub for a wonderful spicy guláš soup and an equally delightful local beer… you will pleased to read that we refrained from doing our weekly shop.

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Bellies now full, we made one final stop in the centre of the city for photo opportunities. In our humble opinion, Opava has more than enough to keep you occupied for a weekend should you ever find yourself in Silesia.

In the above paragraph, I did say the centre was our final stop, However, I have just reminded myself that we did go for one final beer in Stredoveka Krcma for a pint of the “local” Zlatovar. Both of us drawn to the pub by a man standing outside smoking and drinking wearing a pig’s head… like you do, maybe it’s the fashion in these parts. As he high-fived us on the way in I stopped myself from asking him why he didn’t go the whole hog… I fear it may have been lost in translation.

A great day.

Highlights:

Opava – it’s a lovely town.

The soup and beer at the brewery.

The match (best we’ve seen this season).

Hradec nad Moravici, a castle worth a a few hours of your time.

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Kroměříž – It’s hard to say

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A trip to the picturesque town of Kroměříž promised two firsts for the Blansko Klobasa: a debut away trip for new Klobasa Michal, and our first game with our own fully segregated away end. Words alone can not begin to describe the excitement.

 

We all met at Brno’s main station, and after some impressive steeplechase by the in-form Wingy, we were happily on our way, drying some essential laundry in the train window.

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A small incident between a lorry and a bridge threatened to derail our journey, but we made our way to Kojetin by bus (see our post about last time we survived Kojetin) and then finally caught our one-carriage shuttle to Kroměříž.

Kroměříž is simply beautiful, and the glaring sunlight of the day made the colourful buildings of the city’s main square seem almost iridescent. The city has much to offer the traveler, from its packed streets exiting the square to the UNESCO listed baroque castle and gardens. Importantly, the city is awash with interesting pubs, including the microbrewery Cerny Orel, which provided us with our first stop of the day, and a much sought after beer. The beer was very good, but after weighing up the prices of the food we thought it best left to the Austrian tourists. We tried Radniční sklípek for food, most of us opting for various kinds of schnitzels, and washed it down with a pint of Maximilian from the local brewery – both proving winners all round.

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It’s fair to say that the Klobasa love a bit of culture, and so of course the castle gardens were high on our list  of “must-sees”. We managed to make it a short way in before we saw a pub garden sitting nicely in the shade, with one free table left and enough space for about four people. Not choosing to contradict fate we sat down with another local beer, the “McHugo”, and watched an endless procession of weddings being tossed out of the castle quicker than Pavel the Blansko drummer turns out football songs.

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It wasn’t long before it was time to head to the ground. As we’ve already mentioned, we were looking forward to camping out in the away end of the SK Hanácká Slavia Kroměříž stadium, seeing as we have never had the opportunity of an away end before. However, Pavel the drummer had been pretty down on the idea from the start and now that the day had finally arrived he was firmly digging his heels in. Maybe the space wasn’t right for his drum, or maybe he just felt out of his comfort zone, but whatever the case we ended up capitulating and staying with him in the main stand.

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SK Hanácká Slavia Kroměříž have a great ground, and with a disappointing turn out from the home fans we had a lot of space to make ourselves heard. Maybe the heat had got to the players but the game had 0-0 written all over it early on, with barely any chances from either team in the first half aside from a free header for David Muller. This was due in part to some good defensive displays, with new centre back Pisek, arriving in the summer from Ivancice, putting in a particularly strong performance. Blansko were also missing Pospisil, who was injured, and Koudelka who was busy winning a bronze medal with The Czech Republic in the Soccer Sixes European Championships. The second half played out much the same with Honza Minx(y) failing to convert a one on one with the keeper before the game finished goalless. Not the best of games, but a point away from home is worth having at any rate, and that means two away games without conceding a goal, which is great.

We finished the day with a swift beer in a pub close to the stadium, before making our way back to the train and on through the darkening Moravian countryside towards our respective homes.

Man of the Match goes to Standa Pisek for his super display at the back.

Man of the Day goes to Michal for is superman display, saving babies’ hats and carrying luggage for ladies of all ages. (Although he’s not coming again if he’s going to make the rest of us look bad)

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Toppled By Tisnov

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There is not much that can bring you back early from a holiday in East Slovakia and a cup game at Tisnov is also not one of them, but I was back late on Saturday evening after a few days away across the border and as Tisnov is a hop, skip and a beer away from Brno, it was an easy decision to stroll down for a midday train to a town , nicely situated at the foot of the Czech-Moravian highlands.

A host for the day was our good friend and proud Tisnovak, Michal who had promised us good beer and good company..

To give you a bit of  background to the homeside, AFK Tisnov were promoted from 6th tier of Czech football and the newboys of the South Moravian Regional League have big ambitions. In 2015/16 they were FK Blansko’s farm team and we shared the talents (and beer belly) of Petr Svancara, Franta Kuldan and Mohomed Traore, all contributing to our success on the field. The club have  plans for a new stadium and to turn their current ground into a training centre. For the coming season they have signed Franta Schneider (another ex Blansko player)  and a few former Brno youngsters. Leading the good ship of Tisnov is Jiri Hajsky, who, as I am sure you’ve probably already guessed …. is a former Blansko manager and played in Zbrojovka’s title winning side of 1978. He’s assembled a very useful team which walked away with the league title last season.

To calm the nerves (okay to kill time), Michal took us to a pub serving the locally brewed Kvetnice beer (we have since been told there are two breweries in the town). If you are ever in area, we highly recommend you visit Restaurace Sklep to sample a beer or two and when you are there we advise you to look up… just look up.

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As with every trip, we try and fit in a visit to a brewery and this was no different, after a swift pint, we were back on the train and travelling 20 minutes up the track to the small town of Doubravnik (not to be confused with Dubrovnik), home to a beer of the same name and a pint with a great reputation in our region, and possibly the rest of the country too. Now, usually with these places, we wait for Craggy’s seal of apporoval and it wasn’t long in coming. “You know what? I could live here”. Once you hear those words, you know you are in a place of beauty or he’s seen a pub.

It was indeed a lovely town, situated in a valley with wooded hills surrounding, it was also deadly quiet..so quiet in fact that there were very few people about and this included the owner of the local brewery, it was closed up and there was nobody home. Who closes a brewery on a Sunday?  Who?

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There was a back-up plan, well not exactly a plan, but we’d noticed three things in the town – a statue, a fire station and a pub, so in true Blansko Klobasa style we headed straight to U Sedlacka for a slightly different gulas and finally a pint of the local brew. And even the barman seemed to be pretending the brewery didn’t actually exist….

The gulas was the perfect pre-match meal and the was everything we dreamed of and although Doubravnik had hosted us well (we’ll forget about the brewery incident), it was time to catch the train back to Tisnov for the game.

It’s a crying shame that the cup isn’t taken so seriously, but for teams like Blansko and Tisnov it’s a chance to test their skills against better teams, so it was lovely to see that there was a healthy crowd gathering.  For us it was an opportunity to see some of our new signings and to have a closer look at how our new squad was shaping up for the coming season in the MSFL.

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We very rarely describe the match in detail, but with this being Tisnov’s debut in the Czech Cup, we’ll try and recall as much as we can.

In the 2nd minute, Blansko showed their attacking intentions, Kratochvil put new signing Jan Minx through on goal, but he pushed the ball just past the post. In the 11th minute, the home side attacked for the first time and with it brought the first goal of the game. Some shenanigans in the box forced the referee to point the penalty spot.  We believe it was captain Kolacek who fouled former Blansko striker Ladislav Hansl, but we are not quite sure. Anyhow, Hansl stepped up and calmly slotted home and put Tisnov one goal up.

Jan “Minxy” Minx (add a “y” to the surname to create nickname) was beginning to take a hold of the game and created a chance for himself in 21st minute, but couldn’t quite find the finish to match the run. In 29th minute, he again was at the centre of things and created a chance which Kratochvil gobbled up to bring Blansko level and this was the score at half-time.

At the beginning of the second half, Tisnov sent on their ace, Mohammed Traore. We’d seen him turn out once for Blansko (a match winning performance away at Rosice) and knew immediately that we had a game on our hands. In the 48th minute, he created a chance for himself which thankfully our 16yr old keeper equal to…….After a rather dominant display in the first half, Blansko were looking on the ropes and it was Traore again who was in the thick of the action. In the 52nd minute he tricked his way to the byline before pulling the ball back for Tomas Zdrazil to put the home team in front for the second time.

Cometh the 57th minute, cometh the man.. which basically means Honza, Honza time.. Kratochvil setting up local hero Honza Trtilek to smash home an equaliser from the edge of the box. We love that guy.

Blansko then created three very good chances, new signings Kutal and Motycka going close before Honza again had a chance to put Blansko in front, but shot just past the post.

In the 77th minute, we had a great chance to win the game and I am not too sure why we didn’t take the lead, we suddenly found ourselves with four attackers  bearing down on the Tisnov goal. – but somehow overran the ball when it seemed earlier to score.

Extra-time saw Tisnov gain the upper hand with the impressive Traore pulling the strings all over the park , creating some great chances to win the game, but found Zdenek Vesely in fine form in the Blansko goal. 2-2 it ended.

The penalty shoot out brought joy for Tisnov, with both Minx and Splichal missing in a 9-8 shoot out and although disappointed not to be progressing to the next round, we headed back to pub convinced there were better things to come from this new-look Blansko team.

M.O.M – Jan Minx

Attendance : 330

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