Myself and Tick, one of our supervisors, were invited to compete in the Pilsner Urquell Master Bartender heats for the UK. This prestigious competition is in it’s 5th year and had over 2000 applicants from around the country. We were lucky enough to make it in to the top 10 and the final was held at RSA House on The Strand in London. The only other pub with two entrants was The Hinds Head, Bray (no appearance from Heston!).
We were short listed after completing two written modules and sailing through a mystery ‘perfect pour’ visit. A further few rounds of rigorous testing took place on the day. First another written test followed by an interview with Laura and Petr from Pilsner Urquell and beer writer and editor of the Good Beer Guide Roger Protz.
All the finalists were commended, I was very proud of Tick for getting to the final, but three of us all scored the same marks to come out top and make it to the last round. Myself, Robert Kecskes from the Anthologist in London & Robert Hands from the Grey Walls Hotel in Windermere. Our final task was to Role Play the part of barman with Roger Protz and Petr acting as uneducated customers. I was up first, on stage in front of 30 spectators, a photographer and a film crew! The questioning was rigorous, testing my knowledge of Pilsner Urquell and it’s history to the tiniest details. Thankfully I managed to pour them both a decent pint while I spoke!
After the other 2 contenders, in true Pilsner Style, was a free bar, excellent canapes and a string quartet while we waited for the results. We were gathered together in front of the film crew again and the winner was announced. Robert Kecskes from the Anthologist. A worthy winner who has clearly swallowed the Pilsner Urquell book of legends and a little book of charm!
Coming runner up wasn’t so bad as I still get to go to Prague for the finals and I don’t have to go through the nerve racking competition conditions again. Besides the prize is ten thousand Euros and I think I’ve had my fair share of Pilsner Urquells cash.
Maybe next year…