As one of the official sponsors to EBBC you’d expect a big brand like Pilsner Urquell to push the boat out a little when it came to EBBC. A captive mixed audience of well over a hundred brewers, beer writers (professional and citizen), drinkers and industry specialists of all kinds and they did just that.
Dinner was set in the well respected restaurant Anthonys inside an equally impressive Leeds Corn Exchange. All other outlets in the building were closed so that our hosts could set the scene perfectly for our arrival and a few surprises too.
As we entered staff attentively took coats and served us all with our first glass of liquid gold Pilsner. The hop decorated room had spikes of rustic circular bread sticks or pretzels I’m not sure which, they reminded me of quoits sitting there piled high on wooden spikes.
We sat at no particular table but soon were all chatting away excitedly about what was to come before being addressed by all of the high and mighty within the organisation, seriously these guys had shipped everybody who was somebody within Pilsner Urquell to this dinner which is a testament to the collective influence the rooms attendees must have.
There too to celebrate 170 years of brewery history, brewing this beer to the same recipe handed down through the years (if the marketing is to be believed). In typical style and I believe as a repeat of last years conference, their team had bought rarely seen wooden barrels of unpasteurized, unfiltered Pilsner Urquell over for us too, expertly tapped by “The Thirsty Brewmaster” Vaclav Berka.
This lovely brew flowed freely throughout the meal of soup, salmon and goulash served in traditional style followed by strudel and ice cream. All of which was fantastic but the salmon in particular absolutely smashed it for me. Crisp salty skin on the outside, juicy flesh beneath, I could have eaten the lot myself.
As the meal progressed we were invited table by table to three rooms, one after the other. Each room had a different theme and was the place where one of five questions were to be found, the last two located at two Leeds pubs to be frequented later that evening. The first was all about the pour and those brave enough had the chance to try their hand. The Second was host to a storyteller who relayed a tale of old. The final the Thirsty Brewmaster himself with talk of the beer and its history.
All the answers were then to be logged at an EBBC event exclusive website where one lucky entrant had the chance to win a trip to Czech and visit the brewery. The winner is pictured below sporting a slightly demonic pose, I suspect dark forces were at work..
As dinner finished we were all given shirts in either green or red and split into two groups to allow the party to continue in two separate venues at first due to numbers culminating in the one as the night drew on. The beer of course followed along with the aptly barrel shaped cake to celebrate the 170 years in style.
The event finished in the early hours of Sunday morning or at least I think it did. As I wandered off into the night in search of my hotel I left a few hardy stragglers huddled close to the last barrel of unfiltered pilsner. As I trudged wearily into the night my thoughts turned to tomorrows Magic Rock brewery tour, wondering what was to come in the last part of this excellent beery adventure, but also of memories burnt forever into my mind of a fantastic night spent with Pilsner Urquell and a hundred very happy beer lovers.
Note: You may have noted that my photography skills have improved ever so slightly in this post. Not so, the pictures are courtesy of Pilsner Urquell and were sent out to all in attendance, so a big thanks again to PU.