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An Award-Winning Pour: Master Bartender 2016 Michal Prokeš

Pouring a perfect Pilsner is an art, and we take it seriously. That’s why each year at the brewery in Plzeň we hold the Master Bartender competition to find the best bartender in the Czech Republic.

To win, competitors have to distinguish themselves in challenges like a blind tasting of different beers, and a detailed test about the history and brewing of Pilsner Urquell. Master Bartenders are expected to know everything about storing the beer, and looking after the taps, tanks and glasses. They can get points for general enthusiasm too, but of course what the judges really want to see is how well each competitor can pour. They get one chance to serve a perfect beer in all the classic Czech pours: Hladinka, Mliko and Šnyt.

This year’s Master Bartender is Michal Prokeš from the restaurant and bar Silesia P.U.O.R. in the city of Ostrava. Soon Michal will embark on a European tour of Pilsner Urquell tank bars with Brewmaster Václav Berka, who calls pouring “the calling card of any pub or restaurant, and its guarantee of quality.”

Before Michal hits the road, we caught up with him to talk about the importance of pouring, and how being a Master Bartender is about both skills and personality.

Congratulations, Michal! How do you feel about winning the competition?
I feel great. It’s very prestigious and it’s a dream come true. But it’s also a commitment to always pour the best beer possible and look after its quality. It means a lot to me that the time and energy I put into my work every day has paid off and it’s evident with every beer that I love what I do. I’ve been preparing for the contest since 2012, and this victory is thanks in large part to my customers.

What does it mean to be a great bartender?
A big part of being a great bartender is pouring beers perfectly. You want people to know that they can always come to your bar and get a beer in the best possible condition. To be a great bartender you have to love the job like it’s your sweetheart. If a bartender doesn’t love the job, people will see that. You’ve got to pour great beers and also be able to communicate with people. You’re providing an enjoyable experience, with the beer and also with your attitude.

Why do Czechs take pouring beer so seriously?
Serving a beer is like serving a meal. If we pour delicious beer and take care of its quality it will be more drinkable and more enjoyable for our guests.

Previous Master Bartender winners, like our friend Ota Haurythun from the great Prague pub U Pinkasů, have become popular ambassadors for Pilsner Urquell and are like Czech beer rock stars, traveling around the country and advising pubs on how to improve the quality of the beer they serve. Everyone wants to meet a Master Bartender, but it’s even more exciting to taste the consistent quality of the beer they pour.

So next time you’re in Ostrava, you know where to get a perfect Pilsner Urquell. Stop by Silesia P.U.O.R. to see Michal, and tell him we said Na Zdravi!