Last week after blogging about upcoming events in the Stuttgart area, a fellow blogger alerted me to a Tschechisches Bierfestival happening over on Kronprinzplatz, just off of Stuttgart's main shopping street, the Königstraße. Matt and I very much enjoyed our trip to Prague in the Czech Republic last spring, and so we decided to make it a point to check out the festival.
While out with friends on Friday, we made our way over to Kronprinzplatz to see what the festival was all about. The company sponsoring the festival had set up a huge, though rather plain-looking, tent in the middle of the square. There was a little more decoration inside, where, according to the company's website, they went for a "rustic-style". The Czech-speaking servers wore traditional-looking outfits, there were large murals showing beer hall scenes on the tent ceiling, and the rows and rows of beer tables were draped in cloths from the Czech brewery on tap. There was even an accordion and a trumpet player playing Czech music. (Or so they say -- all I remember was hearing "When the Saints Go Marching In" and thinking I was back in New Orleans, although I think the beer had something to do with that.)
The Czech Republic has a long brewing history and produces around 20 million hectoliters of beer per year, according to the Czech Beer House website. Americans are probably most familiar with Pilsner Urquell and Budweiser Budvar (the later because they have a trademark dispute with the American Budweiser). The beer on tap at the festival, however, was from the Ferdinand and Czech Royal (Litovel) breweries, which I wasn't familiar with prior to that night. I first ordered and then stuck with the Ferdinand d'Este, which is billed as a special light beer at 6.5% ABV, and which had a nice, golden color and smooth flavor without bitterness. I thought it was very good.
As for food, the menu featured a handful of dishes being bill as "traditional" Czech fair. Matt decided to order the duck leg with red cabbage and dumplings, while I ordered the Speckwurst. His was the better of the two. The duck leg was tasty, though a little dry, and the cabbage was predictably good. The dumplings, however, left much to be desired. I found them to be too dense and dry, though perhaps I haven't tried enough potato dumplings in my lifetime.
I admit I took a bit of a gamble on the Speckwurst. I saw the word wurst and though "yum, sausage!" when I should have more completely defined the Czech word Utopenec (meaning "pickled sausage") and the German word Ertrunken (meaning "drowned") in the dish's description. This cold sausage was literary drowned on a plate in a cold tomato, pepper, and onion sauce that reminded me a bit of thin ketchup. It was one of the few dishes that I've ordered in my life and truly disliked (but hey, at least I tried something new).
I should also note that a couple of our friends ordered the beef goulash with bacon and bread dumplings, and both agreed that it was good. Perhaps, then, you might want to give the goulash a try should you go. However for me, I think the chance to try the beer was the highlight of the night, and I probably wouldn't return again just for the food.
The Czech Beer Festival will be around until September 28th. It's extremely central to many of the bars and restaurants downtown, so do check it out if you're interested in the beer, but take my advice and eat elsewhere unless you're feeling adventurous (or particularly drunk and hungry).