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Nearly a dozen Tapsters have come to the brewery this summer for several days of intense training with Beer Master Robert Lobovsky, learning everything they need to know about pouring perfect beers every time, just like we do in the Czech Republic. Robert guides the Tapsters every step of the way and has instilled his knowledge and years of experience into the training regime. We sat down with him recently to hear more about the importance of the programme and what’s required to become a Tapster.
Why is the Tapster programme important?
The programme is important because it focuses on pouring, the last step in a process that begins with our hop and barley farms here in the Czech Republic and continues at the brewery. As we say in Czech, the brewer brews the beer, but the bartender makes the beer. We have a long tradition of Tapsters here who take their craft very seriously and are passionate about learning all there is to know about maintaining and serving the beer at the highest level of quality. And Czech beer drinkers take flavour and quality very seriously. A bartender without real skills and dedication isn’t going to last long.
We’re teaching Tapsters from our tank bars in other countries the practices we’ve developed here in the Czech Republic to serve perfect Pilsners every time, and that means with a creamy head of dense wet foam. We’re giving them the skills to serve beer that’s as fresh and delicious as it is here at the brewery. That means beer lovers can taste the best beer possible.
Why is a proper pour so important for Pilsner Urquell?
Pilsner Urquell has a very specific flavour profile that’s a perfect balance between bitterness and sweetness. Anything a bartender does wrong can throw off that balance and drastically change the flavour and character of the beer. That means if the glass isn’t properly cleaned, cooled and wet before it’s put under the tap, the customer won’t get the beer as it’s meant to be enjoyed. Pilsner is meant to be served with a thick head of creamy foam, which helps maintain the freshness and also adds to the flavour. So if a bartender serves Pilsner with a pour that’s typical for an English ale, with just a little dry foam on the top, it’s really not the same beer.
Can you summarise the most important skills a Tapster should have?
Knowledge of what’s necessary for beer to be kept fresh and served perfectly. Respect for the traditions of the Pilsner Urquell brewery in maintaining the consistency of the world’s first golden lager. Dedication to getting the best beers possible to their customers time after time with no compromises. And of course the physical skill of achieving the different pours.
Does the programme teach a standardised way of pouring or is there more personal element involved for each Tapster?
My aim is to teach them the benchmark of excellence and the circumstances that will let them pour the best beer possible. I show them how to set up their own equipment the right way, then I teach them the pouring technique and how they can get the perfect result. It’s a mentoring thing. And they can taste the difference. All the Tapsters are amazed when they taste the beer here at the brewery. But by definition there’s no reason they can’t achieve that at their own bars. We deliver the same beer we serve here, with the same quality and freshness, so if they keep their equipment operating optimally and they know how it should be done, they can serve the perfect pint.
How has the programme been going? Any highlights?
It’s been great to see the level of enthusiasm all the Tapsters have shown. And we’ve already seen excellent results especially at our tankovnas in the UK, where you can now get a proper Hladinka pour that’s as good as what you’d find here. It’s always a pleasure to visit our tank bars and taste what these Tapsters can do on their home turf!
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