Den Kozel – Beer and Music Festival
On the second Saturday in June each year the Velkopopovicky Brewery opens it’s doors to thousands of people intent on trying some beer, a range of local food and enjoying different bands and other performers. Gates open around 1030 in the morning and close around 10pm in the evening. There are two entries. The main pedestrian entry is at the front of the brewery (close to the brewery shop). If you come by train then entry is at the back of the brewery by the big pond (follow the signs). Admission is FREE. If you want a hat then you have to buy a few beers and other souvenirs are for sale throughout the venue.
Why is it called Den Kozel?
Kozel means “Goat” so literally the festival is Day of the Goat. The brewery has always used a picture of a goat in its labelling and advertising. You’ll also find a real live goat within the brewery grounds which is the mascot.
What’s to Do and See?
Once upon a time Den Kozel was spread out all over the village but its now contained within the brewery. There are usually three defined areas.
1) If you enter through the front gate then you’ll have beer and food stalls left and right but if you go around to the left (after the grassed area) there’s often a little food-fest area (last year I enjoyed fish goulash here) and a small stage.
2) Behind this is the main stage, beer tents and the largest area for standing to enjoy the bands that will be playing from 11am onwards.
3) Going up to the rear of the brewery past the silos brings you to the third area. Again with a stage for the bands and lots of space to stand but this time the food and drink options are much closer.
As you’d expect the beer will be anything that the brewery “group” makes. So as well as Kozel you’ll have Gambrinus and Pilsner available, Kingswood cider and the non-alcoholic Birell. When you go for a drink just make sure that you’re in the right queue. In area 3 above last year there were 14 taps with 7 different beers. You’ll find that the light coloured 10 degree beer is most popular followed by the stronger 11 and 12 degree beers. Finally, the smallest queue is usually for my own favourite, the Kozel 10 degree dark beer. The bands are mostly Czech but you get guest bands here as well but, forget the lyrics and just get with the rhythm which leans heavily towards Rock.
What’s the Food Like?
As I said above, there will generally be one food-fest area where you’ll find very local or regional specialities. The other stalls will largely be divided into the ones selling grilled sausages, the ones selling fried food or food served from large bowls and those selling cakes and coffee. Sausages are served Czech-style i.e. with pieces of bread and mustard. I always go to the stall with the bowls and take something called a “Bramborák” which is a fried potato/flour/onion mix and get a portion of “Zeli” (sweet cabbage) on the top. There will also be “Halušky” which is gnocchi served with sweet cabbage and smoked meat. Just be aware that all of this fried and “bowl” food will be pay-by-weight.
How to Make a “Cut” Beer
Czechs have a beer option called a “rezane” which literally means “cut”. It’s a mix of light and dark beer. If you want to try it then my advice is to buy two beers and drink them but keep the plastic glasses, then buy 1 light beer and 1 dark beer. Pour half of your light beer into one of the empty glasses (so your light beer is at the bottom). Then add the dark beer to the top. You add the dark to the top because if you put it in first it creates too much froth. Just a suggestion.
What Else Goes On?
The brewery has a pond directly behind it so on hot days expect a few people will go swimming and only 10 minutes away are walking trails through the local forests. There are also two good restaurants within 5 minutes walk of the Brewery.
Where is it?
Velké Popovice is at Exit 15 on the D1 motorway that links Prague with Brno. You have two main options for getting here.
1) From central Prague you can drive here in 20 minutes but remember the we have a ZERO Tolerance policy i.e. no alcohol if driving (and that includes bikes). For parking, if you got off at exit 15 then when you enter Velké Popovice, take the first left after the pond and if the car park is full then continue up the hill and park in the side roads.
2) The more popular “day trip option” means that you’ll go to the Main Prague Train Station and catch a train going to Strancice (pronounced Stran-chit-ser). From there is a regular free shuttle bus/train service which takes 10 minutes or so to get to the brewery. Check the bus timetable for return times. If you take the train then you enter via the rear entry next to the big pond.
Feel free to view my Den Kozel Video from one of my previous trips.
You’ll find more details on the Brewery Website www.kozel.cz (with the ridiculous “are you 18” stuff), but be aware it’s currently only in Czech.