21 Feb 2008

Past, present and future

It was going to be Svijany, but because their brewmaster was not going to be able to make it, the brewery decided to cancel their presentation at Pivovarsky Klub. It was replaced by Regent, the brewery from the Southern town of Třeboň.

Regent is one of the oldest breweries in the Czech Republic. It was established in 1379, in a monastery. Like many others it's had a turbulent history and passed through many owners. By the end of the 19th century it was one of the biggest breweries in Europe, with a capacity of 5m hl a year. After a peak of 10 million hl before WWI its luck started to run out. It's production fell considerably when exports to Vienna all but stopped after 1918. Things didn't get better during the war or after. As the rest, it became a state company during the Communist regime, and it wasn't until 2000 that the brewery regained its independence.

Today is one of many medium sized bottlers that struggle to stay afloat in a market dominated by the big three and their beers, unfortunately, are not very easy to find in Prague.

Regent brews all their beers using water from their own underground sources and in most cases, they still use open fermenters.

After a really fancy welcome drink, Rambousek with Chestnut Honey, the event proper started. The brewery was represented by two brewmasters, an old one, almost retired and a young, brand new, very energetic one who very enthusiastically and with a few words too many told us about their brewery and their beers.

Most of the line was presented. Petr Vok being the only missing. But this 13°balling beer is only brewed for festive occasions.

As it has become custom. We started with the nealko. One of the brewery's new products. Unlike almost all nealko I have seen or tasted, Renegát has a golden almost amber colour and a pretty nice taste. It drinks almost like a refreshment with some honey notes.

It was followed by osmíčká. This kind of beers fermented at 8°balling flooded the market a few years ago. What was once "table beer" became the drunkard's choice. Usually available at supermarket chains and with prices around 3CZK, most of them are between the forgettable and undrinkable. Fortunately, this one is closer to the former. Still is better than many industrial eurolagers out there.

It was the turn of desítká (10°balling 3.9%ABV). It is refreshing, and a nice session beer. Has a pleasant flowery nose and a mild taste with a short and bitter finish.

Jedenactká (11°balling 4.6%ABV) has a more fruity nose. The flavour is just a little more intense than the previous one. Sometimes I wonder why breweries put on the market two products that are so similar. Neither of them is bad, but one seems to me redundant.

Dvanactká (12°balling, 5.0%ABV) is considered by the brewery their flagship. A mistake as I see it. It is a tasty beer in its category, with a pleasant fruity nose supported by flowery notes. It is refreshingly fruity when drinking it and has a nice herbal finish of medium bitterness.

Tmavé is the one that should be the flagship. It was in the past considered the best dark beer in the Czech Republic, and it was also very appreciated abroad. The secret is the water, which is ideal for brewing a dark beer. It is of very dark amber colour with an interesting nose of dried herbs and caramel notes in the back, when drinking it there is roasted cocoa and some notes of very strong black tea. The finish is long, bitter and very pleasant. It stays in the mouth a few minutes after finishing the glass. Despite its 4.4%ABV, this is a beer with a lot of character and flavour, just as I like them.

Prezident (14°balling 6.0%ABV) was almost unknown to me. It didn't blow my mind, but I liked it. It's got a syrupy nose and when drinking it I felt intense very ripe tropical fruit with a long bitter finish. Rich and with some complexity. It can be good to pair with certain foods.

You might have noticed that I haven't mentioned the colour of any of the beers. It is because, with the obvious exception of the dark, all of them have the same pale golden colour. Not a bad thing, but it did catch my attention.

There were two left. The surprise of the evening, Mary Jo and the almost brand new 16° poltomavé kvasnicové.

I had already tasted a cannabis beer y wasn't too impressed by it. In fact, I said that it was more marketing than beer. Therefore, I wasn't expecting much from Mary Jo. Like Hemp Valley Beer, it is a golden lager flavoured with cannabis flower extract. Currently it is only produced for the export market, but the brewery has plans to start selling it locally. The first thing that surprised me about this beer was its aroma. Even without seeing the label anyone would notice that it's got something unusual. Many would be able to identify it without much problem. The smell of cannabis is very intense, almost covering everything else. When drinking it the forbidden weed still predominates, giving the beer pleasantly peppery notes. The finish is pretty long and very herbal. I liked it and it surprised me. I hope to see it in the Czech market soon.

Sestnacká (16°balling) breaks the colour uniformity. A kvasnicové amber with an intense nose full of tropical fruit and syrup. When drinking it starts fruity and sweet and finishes citrusy and somewhat complex. A nice beer to drink slowly.

Regent is a brewery that had its glory days and would certainly love the have them back. That is unlikely. However, if the market allows and with the hand if their new and young brewmaster (who wants to start brewing a rye bee), the future looks interesting. Of course, we the consumers are the ones who will have the last word. I hope we will be sensible.
Na Zdraví!

4 comments:

  1. Hello, Mr. Beer Philosopher,

    Great blog!

    I wanted to alert you to something that a reader of my biking blog just told me about. You may already know about it, though.

    He says that in the tiny village of Dol, north of Prague on the river, "there is an interesting institution - "Beekeeper Research Institute" -- which among other stuff produces really good mead."

    Thought you might be interested in knowing that. I'm definitely going to check it out during one of my bike rides.

    All the best.

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  2. Thanks a lot!!
    And thanks a lot too for the tip. I love mead, and I will certainly make my way there one of these days.
    BTW, if you haven't done it yet, you really must go to Beroun, nice ride (for what I've heard) and better beer as a reward at the end.

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  3. Sounds great. Where in Beroun? I've been there a few times, but only to do the hike from there to Karlstein (at the end, much drinking of beer usually takes place). I also ended up there once after a ride to Krivoklat, but headed straight to the train station.

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  4. There is a brewpub really near the train station, and it is a great place. Ive written about it (Berounský Medvěd). Im sure you will like it a lot...

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