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Showing posts from February, 2008

Almost like a second home

The reason why Špejchar is here will be obvious to people who know me, and know where I was living until now. Špejchar is my (former) village's restaurant. Actually, there are a couple more, but they are not worth mentioning.

It is a place where they know me and my wife by name, where they greet us when we walk by. It is the place where I go with my ceramic pitcher when I fancy drinking točené pivo at home. It is the place where we celebrated our wedding. It is the place where they ask us about our families and jobs and about our future house. It is the place where I go with my wife or friends that visit us to have something to eat or drink when we don't feel like cooking anything.
And although all that would be enough to make any place one's favorite, Špejchar is in itself very nice. It is the oldest standing building in Velké Přílepy. Originally stables dating from the 16th century (even the stairs leading to the upstairs room are a historical monument, being the original …

The thunder on the shelf

Thus is the English translation to Hrom do Police, a hospoda lost in the streets of Vinohrady, a residential quarter of Prague full of restaurants, cafés and hospody for all tastes and budgets. There is also very interesting architecture from the end of the 19th century and beginning of the 20th. A very nice place to wander around tree lined streets and escape the crowds in the centre.

It was on one of those wanderings that I came across this place, well, actually, I came across a sign announcing it. What made me change my route was the logo of a brewery.
Měšťanský pivovar v Poličce, Polička for friends, is an almost unknown brewery in Prague. Which is a great shame. Fortunately the brewery is the owner of this hospoda, so you can find there all their line.

When getting to the corner of Moravská and Chodská, you can see the sign with the logo of brewery. The first impulse is to walk right to the door directly below, which would be acutally a mistake, since it belongs to some kind of herb…

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 an…

Hemp Valley Beer

This was a beer that I had been curious about for some time. I hadn't drunk any beer from Pivovar Nová Paka that I could say impressed me, still I had to have a go at their Hemp Valley Beer. One of the least traditional beers in the Czech market. Its ingredients, barley malt, hops, sugar and cannabis flower extract, weed for friends.
Considering that, as mentioned on the brewery's website, this last ingredient comes from valleys in the Swiss Alps, I don't think it is of the kind most of us would like, but from the plants without their active ingredient, THC.
Anyway, I was expecting something different than the usual.
When pouring it we have a spongy, not very compact, head of intense white colour. Not very persistent, but it doesn't go away immediately. The nose of that of a typical golden lager, more on the sweet side, with something in the back that is hard to identify, but does not add much. The colour is also that of a typical golden lager. Not very carbonated. When d…

High expectations

Žatec, a town about 90km from Prague whose German name, Saaz, carries a lot of meaning for lovers of good beer.

If the city was better taken care of, it could be a nice place to visit, specially during the summer months when the endless hops plantations are heavy with those magic blossoms. Unfortunately, that is not the case.

There is also a brewery in Žatec, as expected. However, visitors would be excused to fail to notice that since, even in the centre of town, the local beers are not easy to find.

Some years ago I used to go to Žatec every week for work. I was able to taste the beers then, but I didn't remember much. So I decided to buy a couple of bottles and see what they were about. Considering their origin, the expectations were rather high. The three I bought were Premium, Baronka and Xantho.

Premium (4.9%ABV) was the first to go down. It's of intense gold with a small head that disappears way too quickly, not a good sign. The nose is mild and malty with a bit of fruity no…

U Sadu

Ah! Those first months living in Prague! The madness! How many drunken evenings with friends. Now they are part of a foggy, yet pleasant past. When I remember them I can't help but smile. I don't miss them, though. Actually, I don't know how I managed to survive them.

One of our favourite spots back then was U Sadu. Located in a quiet square, right around the corner from Žižkov's TV tower and very popular among locals. Once my life settled down a bit I stopped going. Not because of any bad experience. It just turned out that way.

One day I decided to go back. Historically U Sadu was a hospoda where Gambrinus and Pilsner Urquell were absolute monarchs. At some point things changed, and if it hand't been for "The Good Beer Guide - Prague and The Czech Rep.", I might have never known about it. The hospoda was now a tankovná where Gambrinus and Pilsner are still the stars, but now there is a new friend. Primátor Weizen, the very good wheat beer from Pivovar Nác…

Svijanský Rytíř

I found this place a couple of years ago. I had client around the corner. One day I got to Letenské Nám. quite a bit earlier. I was walking slowly thinking about where I could go. The beer garden was one of the options, but I was afraid that I would simple loose track of time and be late. When I got to the corner of Jirečkova I noticed a beer sign that I had never seen before. It was that of Svijany. I was curious and had time, so I decided to check it out.

Once in, I ordered a pint, Svijany dvanátcka. Drinking it was like having an epiphany! I decided then that it would not be the last time I would go there. A bit later, I stopped for lunch, and I really liked the food. Since then, it has been one of my favourite spots in Prague.

Svijanský rytíř is a very pleasant place "semi basement". When crossing the door you are welcomed by an ordinary bar. Walking in an turning left takes you to a room that seems to belong somewhere else.

There are three very simply decorated rooms. The …

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 c…

Berounský Medvěd

The other day I was finally able to make my more than delayed second visit to Pivovar Berounský Medvěd. I had been there in May last year and liked the place a lot. I had planned to go back several times, but for different reasons, I had to cancel the trips. The other day things turned out in such way, that I had no other option than to make my way there.

So I went to Hlavní Nadraží and took the fast train leaving at 11:16AM. A bit more than half an hour later, I was in Beroun. I walked out of the station and turned left, my good mood started to improve when I saw the sign leading to the brewery as I was getting close to the bridge. Like the fist time I went, I couldn't help but smile when I walked under the bridge and got close to the entrance of the place where Berounský Medvěd is. Walking into a salvage yard to have a beer must be one of the most bizarre things one can imagine. But there it is, among twisted pieces of metal, old tanks and car parts, the only building that does n…

The Kingdom

I found Království, or the Kingdom, thanks to the Prague Pubs section in "The Good Beer Guide...". When I arrived I realised that I had walked past the door several times. The place is in the same street as the world (in)famous Akropolis, in the popular and atmospheric neighbourhood of Žižkov.

It is a small "semi-basement" with two rooms. I like this kind of places a lot, specially in winter. They invite you to stay, forget the cold and the weather while relaxing and getting warm. But it's not just that what makes you feel welcome from the first moment. Pleasantly informal service that would tell you what is on the lunch menu rather than give you a soulless piece of paper, and quite often smile at you. Actually, the lunch menu is not very long, three choices for main, plus a soup and something sweet, all for 89CZK. The food is nothing to write home about, but does the job quite well, specially the soups.

But what brought me there wasn't a need to find out wh…

What a start!

The beginning of 2008 was impressive. From the first sip of the superb Florenc 14:14 to the delicious 11° from Berounský Medvěd that we drank yesterday with dinner, it was a wonderful month of January.

Down also went the brilliant Dopple-dopple Bock, not to mention švestkové and the always lovely OldGott Barique from U Medvídku. But that was not it. Pivovarský Dum had as their beer of the month a žitní (rye) ale, an amber with fruit and honey notes on the nose, and a nice well balanced flavour with tropical fruit and caramel and a short rather citrusy finish. I really liked it.

The best of the month was probably the opening of Pivovar Bašta, with their cheap and very good beers, specially the bavorské. Each sip was like a bite of home made cake. I hope they will have it again soon.

But there is more. Those who have been to Pivovarský Klub these days had the chance to taste the marvelous Rambousek Dyňové. A beer flavoured with pumpkin that, as expected from that artist that Mr. Rambousek …