A year before I had been denied a visa to Moscow, so I knew it was a long shot as I sat in the Czechoslovakian Embassy in Vienna, waiting for a sweaty, rotund and greasy-faced clerk to review my papers. Just the day before I had been given a stern-faced no from the Yugoslavian Embassy. I had managed travel to East Berlin twice because of the strange “Allied” status we enjoyed there, and didn’t want to leave the rest of Eastern Europe completely unexplored, so it was worth a try. The Czech bureaucrat looked positively disappointed when he said that he was sorry, but no, I couldn’t hop the next train to Coffeehouse/Urquell-Land. His look conveyed the helpless manner of a jovial but otherwise resigned Communist functionary, as if to say, “I know you’re no Yanqee Imperial Dog Spy,” but “Thems the rules, sorry mate.” Was it the Jewish surname? My status as an ambitious young Captain? Leadership of the College Republicans? That unfortunate incident with my soldiers showing their butts to the Czech border patrol when we visited the 11th ACR garrison? I wasn’t in search of State Secrets, just a beer – I’ve always wondered why they considered me a threat – I knew of many other American officers that had traveled to the Bloc. Seemed ridiculous at the time, even more so today. I consoled myself with a delicious golden Pils from the gasthaus, and booked the next train to Seville via Barcelona (which led to a serendipitous side jaunt to Tangier and southern Morocco). In retrospect, I should probably thank those Godless Commies for the trip of a lifetime. In tribute, I brew this very simple and pleasantly bitter rendition of what I might have enjoyed during my own Prague Spring.
I highlight the absurdity with my own absurd phrase on the label: “In Demokratic Czech Republic, Pilsner drinks you!” Hats off to you Mr. Sweaty Bureaucrat, and hope you enjoyed the crushing defeat of the Soviet Empire by My People. Cheers!
- 1 lb. Caramel Pils
- 6.3 lbs. gold liquid malt extract
- 1 oz. Galena (bittering)
- 1 oz. Saaz (at 15 mins.)
- Wyeast 2278 Czech Pils (fermented 2 weeks at 50°, then at 60° for diacetyl rest, lagering at 36° for a month until clear)