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Showing posts from November, 2008

La Ronda #6: Women, Seduction and Beers

La Ronda is the Spanish beer blogging community project very much inspired by (if not a rip off of) The Sessions. Every month a member of the community proposes a topic about which the other bloggers are supposed to write. This month La Ronda was invited by Catador , a beer blogger from Chile, who proposes a very interesting and fun topic that goes like this: "You have met a girl who somehow, after learning about your passion for beer, asks you to invite her to a private tasting. Not being of the shy or silly kind, you invite her to your place. Which beers would you give her to sample? And for what purpose? I am happily married and even suggesting something like that might get me in trouble. I couldn't do it with my wife because, since she is fortunate enough to be living with me, she already knows all the beers I know. So I decided to give the thing a twist and face it in another way, as if I was helping a friend that is in that very situation. This is how I see it: I am sitt


Among the many good things blogging has is that there is no censorship or editing. I am free to write whatever I want, however I want it and if people don't like it, it is actually more their problem than mine. The other day, when reviewing t his year's SPP awards I wanted to be bit of a badass and I took issue with their decision to give Budvar the second place, and wrote the following: "Budvar as second, not a chance, they haven't innovated, they haven't grown, they haven't done anything new worth mentioning. Primátor should be in their place (if not first)" I don't have any animosity towards Budvar (as I do have with other big brewers). I might not be a fan of their beers, but I like most of them, in fact, I prefer Budvar beers over pretty much any other from the big breweries. There was, of course, some reaction. First there was a comment from Velký Al , who saw things differently. Then I got an email from Petr Samec, who obviously wasn't to

If it wasn't for the beers

And if it wasn't for Iain and Ian, whom I ran into the other day at Zlý Časy, I would have never known about U Slovanské Lípy . I rarely go to that corner of Žížkov. So, when they told me that there was a hospoda there that stocked the beers from Kout na Šumavě , I made a mental note to visit them as soon as I could. The place is located right by the entrance of the tunnel that connects the famous Prague 3 neighbourhood to Karlín. I go there for a late lunch. There was hardly anyone in, only two tables were taken, one of which would empty soon. Despite having opened only a couple of weeks ago, the pub doesn't seem to have changed much since the days of the Soviet occupation following Prague's Spring. Everything looks tired, even the light that comes in from the windows. Fortunately, that doesn't apply to the service. As soon as I found a table the waitress came to take my order. I started with Kout 12% (25CZK/0.5l), a beer that I hadn't drunk since the Slunce ve Skl

And the winners are...

I chose to publish the list of winners separated from the previous post because I want to speak about about the awards. Analyse them, if you wish. I don't care too much about awards and medals of any kind, but these ones are for me of some importance because they are given by the association that represents consumers. I'm not sure how Sdružení přátel piva choose the winners, nor what criteria is used for some of the awards, and though many are questionable, I have no doubt of the honesty of the people of SPP. So, here they are. Desítka 2008: Fist: Moravské Sklepní nefiltrované from Černá Hora Second: Pardál světlé výčepní pivo from Budvar Third: Budweiser Budvar světlé výčepní pivo I couldn't agree more. Moravksé Sklepní is a very special beer and no doubt unique in its category. Now, the second place. Pardál better than Budvar světlé výčepní (and many others)? Jedenáctka 2008 First: Ležák 11° from Pivovar Klášter Second: Otakar ležák from Polička Third: Svijanský Maz fro

It's good to be me

Well, at least sometimes. Like last year, I was invited to the annual award ceremony of Sdružení přátel piva , or SPP. I'd had a lot of fun last time, so you can imagine how much I was looking forward to this one. The meeting point was once again Hotel Beránek, near I.P. Pavlova. I got there a few minutes after 10, greeted the familiar faces and went to the table where some snacks and drinks had been served, and then to the fridge to pick a bottle of Pivo Hotel Beránek, actually Chodovar Zámecký Ležák with another label, which was not at all bad. There were some bottles of the superb Chýně Dvorní Ležák , which also got my attention. The rest of the guests arrived, ate and drank and a bit after 11 our bus was leaving to České Budějovice, where the event was going to take place. It was a very long trip due to the traffic. We used the time to chat and gossip (I could have some material for a post from that). When we finally arrived we were all thirsty and hungry. Tomáš Erlich, SPP ch

Something's missing

Most Czech craft breweries seem to be satisfied with the brewpub business model. Which means that if someone wants to taste their beers they will have to go to their source or, if they are lucky enough to live in Prague, wait till someone brings them over. Many bottle their beers in PET containers, more as something to take back home as a souvenir and drink soon than something that you would want to store and sit down to savour at ease. The material of the bottles will not allow for very long storing. Only very few will offer their products in proper glass bottles, that will still be only available at the brewery. That is why when I saw a few bottles of Harrach at Pivovarský Klub, I didn't think twice to take one back home despite of the pretty high price (I will get back to that later) The beer pours down light amber, almost gold, foggy. In the nose there is caramel, fruit and lots of citrus, very pleasant and fresh. There is still caramel on the palate that looks like is going t

The more the merrier

I think it was Pivovarský Klub the first hospoda to offer rotating taps, meaning that, unlike the rest, the offer of tapped beer changes constantly. Or maybe it was První Pivní Tramvaj , which actually has only one rotating tap. It doesn't matter, what's important is that the model seems to be successful, specially in PK's case. There've been others that followed the example. One of them was Zlý Časy , which quickly became one of my top favourites and, at about the same time, U Radnice. I already knew this pub back when it was called Podkovaňská Restaurace U Radnice. After the demise of Pivovar Podkovaň it was replaced by the duo Rohozec - Svijany . For whatever reason, that didn't last for long, the Svijany sign outside was changed by that of Krakonoš , which could have happened at the same time the let's hope final change took place. I don't know, but after a few months of not going there I find that U Radnice now also offered rotating taps. My first vis

Beta testing

It seems that our review of Punk IPA did not fall into deaf ears, or actually, blind eyes. After we published our posts about it, Velký Al contacted the people of Brew Dog to, firstly, let them know what we had written, and secondly, to ask how much it would cost to ship some samples to Prague. To his surprise, some James, from brewery, told him not to worry about it, that he would send samples of the three prototype beers they are testing prior to their launch next year. In return, they wanted us to blog about them and to give them some feedback. To be honest, we were all surprised and, at least my case, sillily honoured that my opinion about this beer could be taken into account by the peolpe who brew them. The samples we got are: Bad Pixie , a wheat beer, 4.7%ABV, brewed with lemon peel and juniper berries; Zeit Geist , a black lager, 5.1%ABV, inspired Czech tmavé piva (something I know pretty well) and Chaos Theory a very, very hoppy (according to the website) IPA with 7.1%ABV.

Three nice surprises

Most of us will associate Switzerland with chocolate, expensive watches and secret bank accounts belonging to shady characters from all over the world. Few of us would associate the Alpine country with beer. Come on, without thinking much (and not using the internet), how many brands of Swiss beer can you name? In my case, none. So it was a very pleasant surprise when friends who had been there brought me three samples of Brasserie Trois Dames , about which, of course, I hadn't heard anything. For what I could figure out in the French version of their website, the brewery was established in 2003, but started to work commercially this year, after its owner returned from Canada, where he worked in several brewpubs to get some experience in the trade. But enough with the blahblah, and let's talk about the beers. Three very different ones I had: Ale Extra Special Bitter , Ale Rousse Rivale and La Semeuse Espresso Stout . Two of them with prettily designed lables, the other with so

Worse beer = Better business?

Yeah, it sounds like an oximoron, but you might see it differently after you read this little story one of my clients told me the other day.  Radek is from a small town in Vysočina, where the options for going out for dinner or drinks are limited to a couple of hospody with unbreathable atmosphere and where even the newspapers are sticky, or a much more modern place that is more attractive to the younger crowd living there. That is the place Radek likes to go.  Some months ago the onwer, a friend of my client, decided to change his beer supplier, leaving Pilsner Urquell for Stella Artois and Staropramen . He didn't have any issue with PU, but Pivovary Praha, the local minion of InBev, offered him to put new taps, a lit sign at the door and other marketing goodies (it might be that they also offered to pay for new lights for the bar, but I can't remember for sure). It was hard to resist.  Since the change, business has improved considerably. Not because more people are coming,

Blue Moon

There were two things to take into account before tasting Modrá Luna . One, the brewery that makes it, the other, that it is a Czech fruit flavoured beer, blueberries in this case. The first one gives this beer some credit. Černá Hora is a pretty smart brewery. They have good marketing and they exploit very well the touristic potential of their facilities. They have a fairly big restaurant, that expands to a terrace in the warm months. You can play bowling. They run a hotel. They even offer the possibility of brewing your own beer at their microbrewery and they are also planning to open a beer spa, similar to the one at Chodovar . On top of all that, they know how to make beer, and some of the stuff they brew is quite interesting, like their nefiltrovaná desítka, the strong lager 1530 and the beer aperitif Black Hill. I was expecting a certain quality standard. However, Czech brewers still have not mastered the art of fruit flavoured beers. So far I hadn't tasted any memorable on

It was to be expected

October was a very interesting month regarding quality and variety of styles. I tasted more imported beers than usual, fortunately not only the Ukranians , but some better ones that I will be talking about soon, and several more of domestic production. Among them it's worth mentioning the delicious Imperial Stout from Pivovar Anteňaka . A very black beer, with a coffee and molases nose, and predominantly roasted taste with coffee that slowly turns into chocolate by the end, and the really interesting Old Ale from Pivovar Kanec . Brown, with notes of caramel, licorice and apple in the nose and an interesting mix of caramel and dry bitter notes when drinking. Kozlíček , that very interesting microbrewery, that if it wasn't for the good people of Zlý Časy, who bother to order a couple of barrels every now and again, we would probably never see in Prague, delighted us with their tmavé special. A beer that does not try to be either exotic, nor extreme, it simply wants to be a good s