Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Beer Factory

"Oh, well, of course, everything looks bad if you remember it." Homer Simpson

The concept for Beer Factory seems like a winner. As for execution, not so much.

It's a drinking establishment at the top of Wenceslas Square, right across from the Charles IV statue.

It opened within the last year. There's plenty of foot traffic, and the area is a favorite with the stag party crowd. You'd expect pre-marital bliss.

However, the bar itself is underground, with the door at street level.I noticed a number of times that people seem to have a fear of going all the way in. They go in the door, look down the glass spiral staircase, and then turn around and walk out.For those brave enough to venture down, they'll find a bar, and a big open space with tables with beer taps built into them.There is a kitchen in the back. One friend called it "heaven" the first time he saw the tables.

When you sit down, you let the waiter know you want to drink, and he brings you beer mugs. The taps pour Pilsner Urquell.There are four taps on each table. Each has a pressure valve.

You have to be very careful with these.

If the pressure is too high, you'll get a mug full of foam.

This leads to wastage because the people I drink with have no patience for watching beer foam settle.

On top of the taps, there is a meter that measures how much your table has drunk. Beer Factory charges 40 CZK per half liter.

The meter can be programmed to display your consumption information in a number of languages. It seems pretty accurate.

Burns: Smithers, this beer isn't working. I don't feel any younger or funkier.
Smithers: I'll switch to the tablespoon, sir.


There is also a projection on the walls that shows how many beers each table has had.It's a fun idea that I'm sure it goes over well with the stag boys.

I've been to Beer Factory three times, usually between 6 pm and 8 pm. And it has always been virtually empty. So, I'm wondering what their peak times are and if the place ever fills up. We did see a group of seven young men come in the last time.

But perhaps the lack of customers caused what we considered a serious, perhaps fatal problem for the place. The beer was bad.

On the last visit, I poured my beer and took a sip. The first thing I noticed was that it was not very cold. Not warm, but it was not at a reasonable temperature.

The second thing I noticed was that the taste was off. Way off. It had something of a sweetish quality and it smelled stale. I made a comment and the two friends with me agreed.

And for further confirmation, as if any were needed, a fourth friend arrived, poured a beer and too a sip.

"This beer is bad!"

We hadn't said a word about it. And he complained about the bad taste in his mouth for the rest of the night after we left.

Our theory is that the kegs are nowhere near the taps. There must be long pipes running through the floor. And when the beer is not flowing all day, the beer just sits in uncooled pipes. And goes bad.

Results might be better after a big party comes through and fresh beer gets sucked into the pipes. Sort of like a Vegas slot machine, you have to hope someone has been giving it a few pulls before you get there.

A couple of friends have tried the food. One had the beef (svíčková). He said it was good. I tried some onion rings and thought they were very greasy. I do think the prices are very high for what you get. I couldn't find a menu online for some other examples.

The waiters are a pretty surly lot. Their jobs seem mostly limited to dropping off beer mugs on tables. And throwing out anyone who gets out of line, which I'm sure must happen when people are in charge of pouring their own beers. More on that later.

The music is not to my taste, often techno or some Euro pop, and pretty loud. There is a big open space in the middle of Beer Factory. There is a DJ station at the end. Perhaps it turns into a great dance party at some point. But I've never seen a crowd at the hours I've been there.

Some time around 10 pm, they turn the music up. My friend, Mr. B, was there with a friend one night and it got so loud, they couldn't talk any more. Since there was almost no one else in the place and a disco party was not about to break out, he asked a waiter if the music could be turned down.

The waiter said no and Mr. B told me the waiter was pretty rude about it. So, he went to the manager. He admits he was pretty annoyed at this point and was, perhaps, less polite with the manager. The manager kicked him out.

I had such high hopes for the place, but now I'm filled with a sadness that can only be expressed in song (To the tune of "When I was 17"):

I drank at Beer Factory
I had a very bad beer
I had a very bad beer
It might be because the pipes weren't clean
And it was too warm for me
Oh, the waiters were mean
So, I don't like Beer Factory



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19 comments:

Irish Ice Cream Gurl said...

I was there one night last week.We had seen it during the week and wondered what it was like downstairs. When we got to the end of the stairs it was quite empty. There were 4 guys having a great time with the taps on the table. We had one drink, and sat at the bar, correction I had 2 drinks BF had one. The guy behind the bar said he was new. I asked if they had cocktails but he said he could make anything I ask.. but he got confused when i asked for a Pina Colada?? So I just settled for Malibu & Pinapple. Not much goin on in the bar... boaring really. The guy behind the bar thought he was Tom Cruise... let me state he was no Tom Cruise. Thank god the glasses he was tossin around were plastic because he wouldnt last very long if they were glass. I think he was trying to impress the other two gurls at the bar but they didnt seem impressed either. I remember the Malibu & Pineapple was not strong.. I like them strong. The beer was only ok my BF said... I drank the M&P faster than his beer so I had too... we didnt go back again. Big screens on with sports matchs on... nothing special

Max Bahnson said...

When I first heard of this place, I thought it was a good idea. Then, I thought better. First the location, it is too "tourist-trappy". That might have been a prejudice on my part. The ideat itself, however, is another thing. I know a thing or two about beers, and, thought it may seem very easy to pour a pint, it isn't. You must know how to do it, otherwise you end up with a glass full of foam. You have to learn about that little pressure valve next to the tap, how to put the glass. The glass, also needs to be at a proper temperature, etc.
The problem you had with the temperature of the beer was, as you say, because you might have been the first one using that tap, so the pipes didn't have the right temperature yet. The taste is simply because I don't believe they bother with cleaning the pipes before opening everyday. They are just too many of them, and the staff doesn't expect very demanding patrons. I don't think they have kegs, though, more likely is that they have "tanková".
Anyway, for 40Kc, I'd much rather go to a hospoda where someone who knows how to do it will take care of pouring the pints.
Oh! One more thing Brewsta, the statue there is of St. Wenceslas...

Brewsta said...

Jeez. Thanks again, Max. Embarrassing goof on the statue -- I fixed it.

My brain hasn't been firing on all cylinders lately. You'd think I'd get that detail right after my post on St. Wenceslas and his love of sausage!

Hannes said...

we spent a night after the prom ball there and it sucked right from the beginning. unpleasant staff increasing the price of peer with more of our people coming down, not that superb beer and most of all, quite expensive. the location is excellent though (it is just few months old), but the place is empty most of the week as you say. interesting idea but it doesn't work too good.

by the way, almost everyone in Czech Rep knows how to pour a proper glass of beer without too much foam. we just got enough opportunitues to practise :)

Anonymous said...

I was in there yesterday,and the staff seem to have got their act together.I have worked in bars,so know how to pull a pint,my friend however just got foam.The beer was actually quite good,as was the food.

Johnny said...

I DON'T agree with you...
When I was in the Beer Factory, the beer was fantastic !!! I LOVE THE BEER FACTORY!!!

fuljia said...

When I was in the Beer Factory I really enjoyed it.
The beer was not that tasty, but we became drunkn and so we rached our aim.
Food was good, waiters have been polite, music was OK, the beer was so lá lá but neverthelaess I drank worse beer than these ones.
Its great fun to take part in a contest with Australians and Britishs and beat them =)
Maybe the funniest part about it was to watch you beer counter on the big screen and enjoy the feelings of getting more drunkn and on a higher ranking =)
I recommend to visit the Beer Factory !

Michael S. , Germany

haydo said...

I was there at the start of Sept 2007 and I had a great time, we had about 9 of us at the one table, we got there about 8pm on a Saturday night and it really got going around 10pm. We stayed most of the night and by the end were number 1 on the big screen which made us pretty proud.
Didnt have any probs with staff or anything so yeah maybe they have cleaned up their act. when its full its such a great atmosphere but i can imagine it being ordinary when it's empty. beer tasted fine when i was there!

Brewsta said...

Thanks for the report.

I gotta say, I've been amazed -- my logs show one of the most popular Google searches that bring readers to this blog:

Beer Factory Prague.

Many hits every day. So, maybe it's time for a second look.

Anonymous said...

I was there with my classmates (all about 15 or 16 years old) three times and we enjoied it every time. Of course we were the first ones on the dancefloor, but we weren't alone there for along time! It was always great. The beer was o.k., i think. We met there some Aussies wo wanted to make a drinking contest on the next day (they didn't arrive), some guys from Seattle and also some dudes from Germany and a French guy (who brought the Tecktonic-Dance to Prague!). It's a nice place if you not only want to dance but also to drink and have fun. If you want to dance, go to Karlovy Lazne!

Anonymous said...

Whatever you Say!
Beer factory is so great!
Nice People and the barkeepers are all really crazy...
I was there with my class and in germany you can only dream of something like that! Idiots that are to stupid to enjoy an athmosphere like that should better shut up...I'm sorry but that's the fact...

Anonymous said...

I went to beer factory a lot of times and I usually had a great time! I acknowledge the music can get pretty loud..But I've seen it get really packed and we couldn't even get a place to sit. The place is very fun and the idea is great!
Beer factory is great!!

Anonymous said...

We were in Prague for a rugby tourny in June 2008, and came away very happy from the BEER FACTORY. Staff was nice, changed the tv to rugby for us. We had 9 people, and were treated well. I wish this concept would fly in Ontario, Canada....
They loved our Canadian pins we gave to them.

DAn! said...

hey there,
we were in prague from 25th - 29th of october...
we went to beer factory two times and it was still the best club i ever visited!!!
BEST MUSIC, cold beer and a lot of fun.

if you go to prague, you HAVE to go there and make some party!!

aron hungary said...

we really had fun there, a year ago, and i can't wait for it to be there again, next wednesday, 8th april! Cold & good Pilsner, drinking contest, party from about 10.30 with 20 years old girls from all around the world... best place in Prague!

Anonymous said...

Myself and two friends popped in last night for a bit of fun. It was absolutely heaving, there were plenty of people dancing and at least one stag party. The girls dancing were clearly employed by the bar to liven the place up, a bit contrived but fair enough. We were given a table and were clearly excited about having the ability to free pour our own beer. The excitement soon faded!

Firstly the beer was the worst i have had in prague, so we had one each and asked for the bill. Our meter showed 1,6l which was pretty accurate however the bill we received showed 6,8L. That is over 13 beers in 20 mins, which was clearly wrong so queried it with the staff. They clearly pull this routine reguarly, and all knew what they were doing. We refused to pay the bill at which point a barman blocked the entrance while another threatened to call the police. There was absolutely nothing we could do, the local police were obviously going to take the bars side over a few English tourists so we were left with no option but to pay. My only advice is avoid this place, it is a tourist trap that intentionally rips off tourists stay clear!!!

Anonymous said...

Hi there,

Thanks for sharing the link - but unfortunately it seems to be down? Does anybody here at czechoutchannel.blogspot.com have a mirror or another source?


Cheers,
Charlie

Brewsta said...

They keep killing the Simpson's link for copyright. Fixed for now.

HungryHugo said...

Was there third time now (not my idea), I find it to be allround unpleasant. The general design is not bad, but there is so much waste of space, either its empty (and boring), or you dont find a table to seat enough people (yeah, reserving, I know..), then its too loud to talk. Which is what you want to do in a "pub", usually. Sitting in a "club" drinking your beer just staring around gets pretty boring.
Beer quality is better in any other place, not to talk about "tankove" (which are even cheaper usually), food is sometimes ok, but overpriced. Service sloppy and arrogant, seems if you are not a group of 20 Americans noone really cares what or if you want anything.
Music too loud, if you sit near the door in winter the draft from the staircase is killing. All in all, if you like the self-tapped beer, stick with "The Pub" (no affiliation)..