1. Czech It Out: Prague Beer Fest, Brewpubs and Countryside’s Medieval Castles
Prague Beer and Food Festival, Prague pub crawl, independent microbreweries & Czech craft brews, medieval castles and historic towns of Bohemia and Moravia May 26, 2011 – June 5, 2011, 10 days - 9 nights
We will start our tour at the Prague Beer and Food Festival, a Czech answer to the German Oktoberfest. On our beer, microbrewery and pub-crawl tour, you will drink beer in Prague's historic and lively beer halls and brewpubs. You will tour the Pilsner brewery in the Czech capital of beer Pilsen, home of the original Pilsner beer, and a showcase of the country's rich brewing history. Study beer production with the brewmaster and brew your own beer. Bathe in a beer spa, a rare treat not available on most beer trips. Enjoy beer tasting in the local microbreweries amidst the bucolic and idyllic countryside filled with historic and cultural monuments, castles and chateaux
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Thursday, May 26, 2011. Leave for Prague, Czech Republic on an overnight flight. Prague's Ruzyne international airport (PRG) is well connected with the rest of the world and served by many major international carriers as well as low-cost airlines and trains within Europe (3-4 hours train ride from Munich, Berlin, or Vienna). Please note that airfare is not included in the price of the trip
Friday, May 27. Arrival and check-in the hotel in the Czech capital Prague, one of the most captivating and vibrant cities in Europe with a fascinating and turbulent history given by its location at the crossroad between Eastern and Western Europe. This metropolis overflows with splendid churches, palaces, bridges and, of course, historic brewpubs, atmospheric beer halls and state of the art microbreweries, all within a walking distance from our centrally located hotel. After you settle and rest, we will explore some of the city's many architectural jewels and brewing history with a local English- speaking guide. Afterwards we delight in local and international specialties in one of the traditional, historic pubs and visit other atmospheric brewpubs on the way
Saturday, May 28. After breakfast, you have the option to explore the city on your own and take advantage of the many attractions it has to offer. Of course, personalized suggestions will be made on various cultural events, shopping options (such as beer souvenir and memorabilia shops, Bohemian fine crystal, marionettes etc) to suit individual interests, as well as offering additional advice on interesting places to enjoy beer and traditional Czech food. Save your appetite for lunch at the Czech Beer and Food Festival, the largest gastronomic and beer tasting event in the Czech republic! You can taste 70 brands of Czech beer from the whole country and the beer cuisine prepared by Prague chefs, butchers and bakers, in addition to music And entertainment. On tonight's pub crawl we visit a pub offering over 200 various Czech bottled beers from both large and small regional brewers as well as one of the local beer establishments which offers unusual Czech beers not found anywhere else (such as banana and poison ivy). We taste their special 'giraffe' beer - a huge beer for 6-10 people enjoyed on tap at a table.
Sunday, May 29. After a late breakfast, we depart Prague for Brno on a fast Pendolino train while enjoying the Czech countryside as well as a "cold one" from the onboard restaurant. After a two and a half hour ride you can enjoy the rest of the day in Brno, the elegant capital of Moravia, the second largest city, and our next stop for two nights. We will take a short city tour (including the Capuchin Monastery catacombs holding the mummified monks and the dungeon labyrinth underneath 13th century Spilberk fortress) followed by a hearty dinner in an atmospheric microbrewery/historic brewpub serving excellent Pegas citrusy wheat beers as well as pale and dark unfiltered lagers. We will follow with a pub-crawl and visit more beer cellar pubs
Monday, May 30. Today we visit historic Cerna Hora Brewery founded in 1548. This is a medium sized, independent regional brewery making various types of excellent beers, such as Black Hill produced based on an original recipe of carefully selected home-grown ingredients and extracts of 33 different types of herbs like centaury, gentian, licorice and cinnamon. We will take a class where you will craft and brew your own batch supervised by a local brew master. During the process we will have time to tour the brewery, enjoy local cuisine, possibly outdoors, taste the local brews, and have an option to take advantage of their bowling facilities. After the beer class and tasting we return to our centrally located hotel in Brno. You can choose to relax or, if time allows and you still have the energy, continue the festivities in the local numerous brewpubs and beer halls!
Tuesday, May 31. Today we leave Brno and enjoy a pleasurable ride through the idyllic rolling hills of Moravia and walk up to one of the most enchanting castles and one of the best preserved gothic- renaissance fortresses in Europe, Pernstejn. This majestic, never conquered chateau-fort overlooks the surrounding deep-forested hills and houses an arsenal of weapons and armaments. After lunch accompanied by a local draft in their medieval castle pub, we continue on to the picturesque Cesky raj, a natural labyrinth of fascinating rock formations filled with castles and forests. We lodge and spend a romantic night in an atmospheric historic castle, now a hotel dramatically perched on a rock cliff overlooking the lovely Bohemian countryside. In the evening, we will enjoy local dark and pale gold lager known for its orange-blossom flavor, accompanied by delicious grilled meats eaten medieval style with no utensils in a traditional rustic brewpub adjacent to a local brewery.
Wednesday, June 1. We leave for Chyse historic brewery (1839-1841) adjacent to a beautiful baroque chateau and its collection of hunting weapons. After the castle tour we will tour the brewery premises and follow with a delicious lunch in their country pub and tap room. We will taste their Prokop beers brewed according to the old Bohemian recipe, naturally with no preservatives, filtration or pasteurization. After lunch and energized, we set off for Loket, a picturesque medieval gem set on a fortress hill surrounded by a river bend. We will enjoy local brews in a historic family microbrewery accompanied by a beer meal. After dinner, our local English-speaking guide will take us on a mysterious night tour of the magnificent medieval castle. Overnight in Loket in a charming hotel adjacent to the family brewery located on the historic town square
Thursday, June 2. After a walk through the Loket historic square, we depart for Pilsen. This is a well-known and festive beer city and a home to the original Pilsner, where the first batch of modern pale pilsner was produced in 1842.We will explore the town's colorful and architecturally attractive square and have a beer lunch in one of the many pubs. After lunch, you'll visit the Brewery Museum housed in the 15th century house where you'll see the world's smallest barrel, a jug measuring 1 cm and a giant mug carved out of a single piece of wood from Siberia. You'll also explore Pilsner Historical Underground, a labyrinth of 14th century corridors, cellars and wells under the city centre. In the afternoon, you'll visit the legendary Pilsner Brewery, the inspiration for more than two-thirds of the beer produced in the world today, which are still called pils, pilsner, and pilsener. After dinner in one one of the local pubs, as if it was not enough, we'll explore some more of the lively pubs where you can connect with the locals.
Friday, June 3. We travel west to Chodovar Brewery, a beautiful large historic brewery near the German/Bavarian border where we will take a dip in beer in the Real Beer Baths, an original curative spa therapy combining remedial effects of beer, warm mineral water, ingredients for brewing beer, and classical as well as special rejuvenating massages. The unusual beer spa, a treat rarely found outside the Czech Republic uses procedures that have curative effects on the complexion and hair, relieve muscle tension, and support immune system of the organism. Your rejuvenating bath/massage and drinking cure will be followed with a tour of the splendid historic family brewery whose premises are adjoined by a brewery garden for 3,000 guests and a spot where the European championship in rolling oak barrels takes place. The brewery tour will be followed with a lunch in a one-of-a-kind restaurant serving regional culinary delights (such as venison) located in an ancient cave cellars reached by an exciting walk through a labyrinth of underground passages cut in rock. If available, the unique "beerrarium" can serve as an alternative eating option. Located in their Old Malt House, the restaurant's beer menu includes a large selection of interesting brews compiled by a beer sommelier (a graduate from the Brewer Academy in Munich) and carefully paired with regional culinary delights. Upon return to Pilsen, we will eat and drink in the best of the numerous beer halls and brewpubs on our crawl in this beer loving city. We will indulge in the local Western Bohemian cuisine, similar to German accompanied with the fantastic Pilsner golden lager with a sharp bittersweet finish. We will also taste various other types of exceptional lagers, such as Gambrinus Excellent, a new type of brew made with rich caramel malt through triple fermentation or the special unpasteurized Pilsner. Enjoy the oldest historic pub in Pilsen serving best venison goulash or tap your own beer
Saturday, June 4. We depart for Prague. On our way through the Czech/Central Bohemian countryside, we'll visit the gothic 14th century Karlstejn castle, a majestic castle-fortress which served the Holy Roman Emperor and the Bohemian King dramatically situated on a rock cliff overlooking the picturesque landscape. We will have a beer lunch in a local pub on the way. After lunch, we transfer to our hotel located minutes from Prague's thriving beer culture. Afternoon is free to explore the city's many famous beer pubs, shop and sightsee. This evening we meet for our farewell dinner at yet another special restaurant known for its craft beer and robust beer cuisine (the last opportunity to order venison goulash and fresh applestrudel!) and to cheer to the Czech culture with a mug of Czech brew before we depart the following day
Sunday, June 5. Depart Prague and the land of beer by air. Of course the possibility exists to extend your trip and continue on your own. Again, Prague is only about 3-4 hours by train from Vienna, Berlin, or Munich in the heart of Central Europe.