Did I Mention the Beer?

Trip Start Apr 25, 2007
Trip End Oct 03, 2007

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Flag of Czech Republic  ,
Sunday, September 2, 2007

OK, so I haven't mentioned the beer enough.... Beer: delicious, foamy, refreshing, and undeniably Czech. The Czechs drink it at 10am, for lunch, as an afternoon snack, with dinner, and for dessert. Most Czech beers are strong (5.5%) and cheap (30 US cents per half liter), so if you want beer, come here. And the best Czech beer, in our humble yet well researched opinion, is any beer made with Zatec hops. In fact, a full crate or two of Zatec beer is never far from our reach at the farm in Brody.
Yesterday was the day we had been waiting for all summer: the annual Zatec hops festival. Ahh, the aroma of hops, the beer tents of 20 different breweries, and the sizzling sound of roasting sausages and pig on a spit......Where to begin?? The very first beer tent, of course! It belonged to a small brewery called Bakalar, a beer we had never seen in any of the stores. Then it was on to the tents of Poutnik, Zatec, Cerna Hora, and Bernard Breweries. Let me just say that we originally had the goal of trying all 20 different beers, but the cups they gave us were SO big that by the 5th glass we were more than slightly inebriated, we were quite happily drunk - no small tasting glasses in the Czech Republic! We were afraid a mob would come after us if we threw away an unfinished beer, so we dutifully drank up at each tent and plowed on. Finally we decided to eat, so we ordered up a slab of pig thigh off the spit, with mustard, peppers, pickles and bread - the perfect meal to soak up the brews. Then amidst all the thousands of people with hops draped over their bodies we managed to find my father and his wife, who had been dancing in the square to a famous old Czech singer from the 50s and his folk band, and we all decided it was time to teeter home for an afternoon of napping and recovering.
But why just drink beer? Why not bathe in it, too? Two weeks ago we found a "beer spa" in a hotel next to the Chodovar brewery. Beer spa? Yes, beer spa, where you can drink it, bathe in it, and get wrapped up in it, which is precisely what we did. We made an appointment for a two person bath, and when we arrived at the spa, we were told to undress completely and were led to our own little curtained off area in a big, brick, vaulted room. There were other curtained off single baths and another double, all full with beer-soaked people. Ours was stainless steel tub so big it rivaled some hot tubs I've been in, and there were two taps, one with a lovely froth pouring out of it. The warm beer was heavenly to slide into, and it got even better when the woman attendant handed us two cold beers to go with our soak. After twenty minutes of beer bath therapy, we were draped in sheets, taken to a quiet, dimly lit room and wrapped up in blankets like a couple of burritos. There we were given two more beers and instructed to relax. Who were we to argue with the nice beer lady? After sipping and drifting away for another 20 minutes, we were told not to rinse the hop flakes off our skin for four hours, so we went and had massages....after all, the beer needed to be worked in to really do its magic, right? The only thing left after we were finished was to buy a crate of Chodovar beers, peek into the restaurant, which was in a cave complex next to the brewery, and reluctantly leave, the smell of hops and beer trailing us the whole way home.
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