10 Feb 2008

Master

The first time I drank both Master beers was at their presentation in Prague. At that time I was quite impressed by these new unpasteurised brews from Plzeňský Prazdroj.

I drank them a few times since, but without taking notes or using much of a critical eye. Now the beers can be found at many hospody and restaurants all over Prague and the Czech Republic, and they seem to enjoy relative success.

The other day I decided to have a glass of each, and this time to take notes. I started with Master 13°

Master 13° is an amber beer, with a nice spongy head. It has a nose of prunes, some fruit and herbal notes. When drinking it I felt nicely mild caramel notes with a long and bitter finish. It is a very nice beer, but in its category I like Primátor Poltomavé 13° Bernard Jantár better. I think both of them are more interesting and better accomplished.
It was the turn of Master 18°. This is a really dark beer, with a compact tanned head. I loved its nose, I felt baked apples and roasted coffee contrasting very interestingly. When drinking it there is coffee and cocoa very well integrated, yet identifiable, and then fruit achieving a beautiful contrast. The finish is bitter, with coffee taking the lead. It is a great beer. Its 7%ABV is brilliantly integrated. It caresses your palate. According to its creators, it is not a Porter, however it shares some of the characteristics of Pardubický Porter, but I would say it is very distinctive and also superior.

The most remarkable thing about both these beers is where they come from. With an undisputed market leadership, Plzeňský Prazdroj does not really have the need of coming out with a super premium brand. But they still did it. After paying a lot of attention to the trends in the market, they responded accordingly.

Their competitors on the other hand, seem to be living in another world. Budvar only recently has started promoting their dark beer, a product that they've been selling for a couple of years now, and in 2006 they came out with the mediocre Pardál. And InBev still is trying to make us believe that Stella Artois is a quality product, while continuing with the ruining of Staropramen, whose once decent Granát seems now to have joined the rest of the product line.

22 comments:

  1. Is Master on draught? If so which tankovna pubs serves it?

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  2. It is actually only draught.
    In the centre, that I remember there is Malostranská Pivnice that stocks it and Na Klárově, that restaurant right opposite Malostranská Metro station, though Ive never been there.
    I also think they have at U Vejvoda, but Im not 100% sure.
    In Zizkov/Vynohrady you will find it at U Sadu

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  3. Thanks I had actually put U sadu at my pub list on my next trip since they also stock Primator's Weizenbier according to Evan Rails book. It's the ambience good here?

    Other pub's I want to visit is Hrom de Police for Policka beer and Kralovstvi for Cerna Hora and of course Pivovarsky klub. Any comments about this pub selection would be most apprecieted.

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  4. I like U Sadu a lot. It's not touristy but welcomes foreigners, and it is still a down to earth neighbouhood pub. The food is quite fine as well, and is a tankovna. Im preparing a post on it.
    Hrom do Police is fine, the food is not too good, but the place is pleasant enough, and their beers are great. I've written already about Kralovstvi. It has quickly become one of my favourite spots.
    All in all, I think your choice is good. I would add Svijansky Rytir in letna and maybe Prvni Pivni Tramvaj in Podoli.

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  5. Thanks Pivni Filosof, I would add Svijansky Rytir at the list as well.I have not tried Svijansky beer either. I'm looking forward visiting Prague again. My only problem is that my wife and her friends prefer Kampa and Hergetova instead of real czech culture ...

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  6. I saw it at Olympia on Vitezna. I tried it once and liked it. After reading this, I think I might go for it again the next time I'm there.

    It is 45 CZK for a .4 liter glass-- I usually go for the .5 Pilsner U for 39 CZK, but I need to break out of my panny-pinching ways once in a while.

    Besides, Master is a bit stronger, isn't it?

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  7. I meant penny-pinching. Panny-pinching sounds a big naughty, doesn't it?

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  8. Pingrid,
    Svijany makes really good beers, all of them unpasteurised, and that place in Letna is one the best in town where to drink it, beware that it's not open at weekends.
    I feel your pain, Kampa and Hergetova are not the right places to go if you want to have a good pint. Im lucky that my wife does not fancy places like those too much, she would much rather go to a hospoda than to a posh restaurant. We leave that only for special occasions.
    Brewsta,
    I do believe that 45CZK for a glass of Master 18° is not too much considering you are already paying an overprice for Pilsner Urquell. The 18° dark has 7%ABV, against the 4.5 of PU and it is really good for pairing with some foods. Besides, you don't want to drink too much that baby.
    FYI, at U Sadu they have them for 30CZK/13° and 35CZK/18°....

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  9. Hmmm! Panny pinching. Sounds like something I wouldn't mind doing after a few glasses of Master 18°....

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  10. All true -- But I think the Master at Olympia (now called Kolkovna at Vitezna) is the 13 degree, no?

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  11. If it's the amber you are speaking about, then, 45CZK is a tad too much. For a couple of crowns more I would more than gladly pay for a pint of OldGott Barique at U Medvidku, which is a MUCH MUCH better amber 13°.
    But then again, 39CZK for a pint of Pilsner borders the ripoff, considering that Olympia is no more than a glorified hospoda.

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  12. Thanks Pivnofilosof, I'll visit Svijansky at monday then. And by the way: last time I were in Prague( June 2007) I visited U sumavy at your recommdation, I'll think.Thanks for that tip (at Brewstas great blog). It was truly a gem.

    The higlight of our trip last summer when it comes to beer, was Richters microbrewery .Pivovarsky Dum's lager was a disapointment( I did'nt dare to try their flavoured beer. I liked the lager far better at Richter in Bulovka. The beer I liked most here was their bavarian Helles. The ambiance was not so good in my opinion, Most of the customers were drinking coke. The best pub ambience goes to - in my opinion - to U zlatheo Tygra. What's your opinion?

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  13. Richter brewery is a great place. I loved their beers. Though I must say that the golden lager at Pivovarský Dum is simply heavenly, but then, there have been not so good batches. I like the golden lager in Richter too, but it's not my favourite beer there. However, on my list visit, I ordered it and it was just excellente, the best I've had.
    You should try the special beers in Pivovarsky Dum. Specially their nettle beer. It is an acquired taste, but I love it. And their coffee beer isn't too shabby either.
    The problem with pivovarsky dum is that it is very popular with tourists. Ive seen a lot of coke drinking people there, and I simply dont understand it, you go to a brewpub and you drink coke!
    Tygra is great! I don't go too often, but its one of the best places in Prague. You should go to U Černého Vola in Loretanské Nám. It is somewhat similar to Tygra, but not so dark. You'll like it. And Im sure you will like U Sadu as well...

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  14. Is it possible to purchase kegs or bottles of Master and have it shipped to the United States of America? If not, do you know of any place in the U.S. that may sell it? I had Master two years ago in Prague and loved it! I now live in the U.S. and was hoping to find a way to get some.

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  15. Anonymus,

    I don't know if, or think, there is an importer for Master in the US, but with enough money, everything is possible. BTW, PU has started bottling them. Send me an e-mail and I'll see what we can do.

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  16. Hi Filosof!
    I would ask tou you what kind of beer style you think Master 18° really is.
    Congratulations for your blog, cheers!

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  17. If it is actually an 18º Balling dark beer, then it's a Porter (you can call it Baltic Porter, if you want, but Czechs, like most Europeans don't think in styles)

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  18. I didn't expected to heard of baltic porter about that beer...do you think it's more similar to a bottom fermentation porter than from a schwarzbier as german style?

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  19. For what I remember from a few Baltic Porters I tasted quite some time ago, Master is a bit roastier, it could be like a Schwarzbier in that sense, but it could also be like a roastier Baltic Porter, either way, since it's an 18º beer, Germans would call it Dopplebock.

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  20. What a big mess about czech dark beer, I'm very disoriented. I know it's just a kind of exercise to put the right style name on beers, but it can be interesting if anyone want to understand the kind of beer only by one word.
    Someone say czech dark beers can be also called bohemian dunkel...I promise it's the last name I submit to your judgement! :)
    Cheers!

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  21. The best advice I can give you when thinking about Czech beers (and German beers, too) is to get all this style nonsense out of your head.

    Czech brewers do not follow any style guidelines whatsoever (at least not if we speak about the classic stuff). They brew according to recipes that have often been handed down to them from previous generations, or something like that and since most brewers come from the same school it is expected that their, for example, tmavé ležáky will have many things in common, but as long as that dark beer has a certain balling range, it will be called tmavý ležák, regardless of how many IBU's or stuff like that it will have (actually, even regardless of how it was fermented).

    So, the best word to understand Czech beer is "drink". :)

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  22. This last advice I have well known right there in Prague pubs, sure! :-P
    Italian brewers' point of view has much to know from czech one!

    Cheers

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