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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20 highlights from 2016

As the end of the year draws near, here’s a collection of highlights from the Klobasa’s 2016

Take a Chance on Myjava

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My student looked at me with a quizzical look which he often reserves for a complete lack of comprehension. “You’re going to Myjava?” He seemed genuinely puzzled. “OK, if you want…”

Later that day I was telling Ralph about this reaction while we were standing at Brno’s main station, waiting for the first of three trains to take us to the small town in western Slovakia. He seemed both surprised and concerned. “Honestly mate, I remember this town being beautiful… honestly”.

Three trains, and an incredible journey through the Czech and Slovak countrysides, later we alighted to one of the saddest-looking train stations this side of Ryde Esplanade. The highlight of the station “Bufet” would have to be saved for later though because we’d been long travelling and needed to drop our bags at the local guesthouse. We left the decaying station behind and found our abode lying at the bottom of the hill and well in the shadow of a tower block lifted straight from John Carpenter’s Escape from New York. “Are you sure about his place, mate?” I asked. “Honestly mate, I remember this town being beautiful…” To be fair, the guesthouse was superb and the staff very friendly, which is certainly not always the case.

We were eager to immerse ourselves in this gem of a town and so we headed out on to the main strip to take in the sights. It was at about this point that Ralph had to concede that he may have somewhat misremembered the town. Now, I wouldn’t say there was much wrong with it. There just didn’t seem to be much at all.

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Of course, we were unfazed by this because, to steal a Crowded House lyric, everywhere we go we always take the weather (Blansko) with us. We headed on with high hopes, and had a quick look at the centre’s, admittedly notable, Evangelic Church, built in 1711. After a quick pint by the trickling river we entered one of the town’s real highlights, the Spoločenský dom, and sat among the football memorabilia decorating the . It’s worth taking a moment to talk about the football team here. Spartak Myjava have a stadium capacity of 2,709 in a town of just 12,000 people, and 2016 sees them enter the UEFA Europa League for the first time in their history, following promotion to the top league in 2012. It’s fair to say that they are well supported in the town, and you can see the club’s colours in abundance. We would find out more later, but having polished of a pizza covered in Slovakian bryndza cheese, it was time to tour the town’s finest watering holes.

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For a Slovakian town is was surprisingly difficult to get a Slovakian beer, and our luck didn’t improve upon entering the “Blue Bar” situated in the Kulturny dom, where we sat and mulled over a Czech Bernard. We love Czech beer above all else of course, but when in Rome…

We drank up and headed to the football. The stadium has been recently reconstructed in preparation for the European debut and on a night like tonight it looks perfect under the floodlights.

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Spartak Myjava

The home side ended the season with a win, finishing a fine third in the league and with Europe League qualification already in the bag. The fans were ecstatic and much to their delight the victorious team did a lap of honour to cap off a great evening. Next season will be a big one for the club and it was great to see them finish off the year in style tonight.

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Myjava is a developing town, and many of the bars are centred around a singular modern complex. Always on the looking out for a more interesting experience we avoided these and wandered in to the town’s hottest hangout – the Bowling Klub, where we promptly made friends with a Slovak man of an advanced age in a Man Utd baseball cap and only a few teeth, who upon closer questioning expressed support for both the Manchesters, plus Liverpool FC. Covering all bases there then. Ralph felt the need to widen his options and handed him a Wales badge, but having never seen a pin badge before needed a little help from yours truly to pin it on to him. An intimate moment for sure. What would we do without these people? To be fair he seemed to more interested in supporting the derrière of one of the waitresses, which he kept demonstrating to us enthusiastically with cupped hands.

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We finished the night in the Movies Bar where they were showing some ice hockey, but no one seemed to be interested and the house was hardly rocking, most people appearing to have vacated the town for the weekend.

The next morning we woke up early and arrived at the station for find the train delayed. We gathered the last of our Euros together to afford two half pints in the station “Bufet”. Thank god we could only afford halves because it smelt like death in there. Although everyone was too busy watching a Hollywood film about the marriage of two talking dogs to notice. The train eventually rolled in and we rolled out, leaving a Myjava behind us that upon reflection offered more in the end than we had expected. Now we were on our way back to the Czech Republic to prepare for Blansko’s penultimate game against Žďár nad Sázavou.

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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”