In its fourth year, Czech Beer Festival bigger than ever

Photo: Czech Beer Festival

For the fourth time this year, the Prague Beer Festival kicks off in the Czech capital. Starting Thursday, the city’s residents will be able to enjoy a tasting journey of their country’s beer variety without having to leave the capital. This year’s festival, which will last 17 days, is shaping up to be bigger than ever, with more than 70 Czech beers on offer and nearly 200,000 visitors expected to attend. Jan Hübner, the main organizer behind the Czech Beer Festival, explains what exactly thirsty beer fans can look forward to.

Photo: Czech Beer Festival
"The Czech Beer Festival is the fourth annual of the biggest food and beer event in the Czech Republic. It’s something like Oktoberfest, with Czech beers, in Prague. We offer more than a hundred Czech beers and typical Czech food in big tents with live music.”

And how did you first have the idea to start such an event?

“The idea was very simple: How come there is no event like this in Prague, in a beer country like the Czech Republic? So we started in 2008, and as I said, it’s the fourth annual this year.”

So how many visitors do you expect this year, and how does this compare to previous years?

“We basically double our visitor numbers every year. We had 19,000 in 2008, then 40,000 in 2009; almost 100,000 last year and we are expecting 180,000 this year.

What role does food play in the festival?

“It plays a big role. Food makes up 40 to 45 percent of our turnover. The whole event is like a big restaurant with 10,000 seats. There are different caterers in each tent, all of them are among the best in the city, and as I said, we offer typical Czech food.”

And with so many beers on offer, surely there must be a great variety of beers. Can you describe what kind of beers people can try?

“We focus on the production of the small, regional breweries. The big names you can taste at every corner, so in our offer, there are mostly small breweries from all the regions of the Czech Republic.”

Would you say that microbrews and smaller brands of beer are becoming more popular here in the Czech Republic, where for a long time it was either Gambrinus, Pilsner or one of the other big brands?

Photo: Czech Beer Festival
“It is a trend. And I think we helped this trend, because from the beginning, in our first year, 2008, we already had a big offer of small breweries, and this is also what people have come to expect from this event.”

I believe you also take this beer fest abroad, can you talk a bit about that?

“We already started last year; we put on a Czech Beer Festival in Frankfurt. And we are continuing this year. In June, we will be in Berlin, on Alexanderplatz, then again in Frankfurt in September. We are also planning one in Nuremberg in 2012, and this year, our biggest event, with the same size as the fest in Prague, will take place in Moscow in late August, early September, for three weeks.”

And lastly, as far as the Czech Beer Fest here in Prague is concerned, which kicks off on Thursday, what highlights can your visitors look forward to?

Jan Hübner
“We have some special days. For instance, the first Sunday, May 15, is called American Sunday, and it was organized together with the American Chamber of Commerce in the Czech Republic. And in one special tent, called tent of beer variety, visitors can taste some American specials.

“We will do the same, a week later, on May 22, with British beers. And every day, bands are playing live, and their performances in the tents start at 6 p.m.”