18 Jul 2008

Subtle beauty

Pivovar Kout na Šumavě en Domažlice is a true rara avis. Originally established in 1736, closed down in 1969 to resurrect in 2006. Not as one of the many brewpubs that have opened recently but as a proper industrial bottler. And with quite some success it seems. Their distribution has slowly been expanding in Plzeňský Kraj, and their beers have got many fans among beer geeks, so much so, that their 12° is already considered to be one of the best, if not the best, Pilsner Lager in the world.

Unfortunately you can't find it in Prague. There isn't any pub that stocks it nor there is anyone who distributes it. So, to be able to taste it I had to wait until a few weeks ago when Zlý Časy included it in the lineup of their minifestival of beers from the Pilsner Region. It's simply a brilliant beer, as I've mentioned before.

The other day, while having a pint with a couple of friends at one of my favourite spots, a bottle bearing the label of Kout na Šumavě materialised in my hands as if it had fallen from heaven (thanks Honza for the gift). After asking I learned that what the bottled contained was nothing less than Kvasnicová 12°.

Needless to say, my expectations were up in the clouds, which can sometimes make me a bit afraid and demands a lot of concentration. I always to ignore these subjective expectations. Sometimes it's hard.

I was going to pour this beer in the usual glass I use for tasting (you can see it in most pictures), but I changed my mind in the last moment, choosing my favourite půl litr instead. It turned out to be a very good decision. I poured carefully to have the right head. At first it looked like a very handsome Bohemian Golden Lager. Rich gold, no visible carbonation, compact head of angelic white. I let it settle a bit and, after shaking the bottom of the bottle a little, poured the rest. The yeasts that had sedimented fell into the glass and started to expand slowly like a cloud, until they turned a crystal like pilsner into a proper kvasnicové, cloudy and almost orange golden. The process was indeed beautiful to watch.
With my mouth watering I set to taste this eye candy. The nose was a perfect balance between ripe fruit and the characteristic citrus-flowery notes of Saaz hops. All delicate, but with character, and supported by the aromas of a barley field in summer (this is not an over the top metaphor, there is a barley field behind my house, and it smells just like that when the sun goes down).

The taste starts fruity, yet never becoming sweet, simply right. Slowly the hops start to show up, growing in intensity. In the finish the Saaz seem about the explode and blow our heads, but they never get to do that and leave the same way they came. They are like a stripper that never finishes taking off her clothes, and for that turns us on more.

I was fascinated by Kout Kvasnicové 12°. When I finished it, I automatically wanted to go and open another bottle, that was not there. It's so well made. It's the opposite of an extreme beer. It doesn't need to shout to be listened to, it just speaks clearly and with a melodic voice. Self confident, like a really attractive woman that doesn't need make up or fancy clothes, but still will turn the heads of those who know how to appreciate real beauty.

Na Zdraví!

4 comments:

  1. Man, I love that beer.

    But just to clarify, Pivovar Kout na Šumavě isn't located in Domažlice. It's located in the town of Kout na Šumavě, which is near, but different.

    That said, for most travelers Domažlice is probably the best place to sample it — which is why I wrote "Kout [meaning the beer] in Domažlice" on my post.

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  2. Thanks for the correction. I think my mind was blurred after drinking that delight....

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  3. and have you tried another famous beer from that region, Zlatá Hvězda from Dopbřany? I especially love their 16°.

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  4. I've had a couple of beers from Dobřany, Dragoun included, and I agree with you, it is a really fine brew.

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