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Showing posts from March, 2008

From sunny Andalucía

Before going into the tasting notes, it is worth telling the story of how a couple of samples of Alhambra Reserva 1925 got to my hands.

I've said it many times, one of the nicest things about blogging is the possibility of exchanging ideas, things, experiences. Francisco and Bea, from Granada, Spain, are readers of my Spanish blog who had found it thanks to the forum Los Viajeros. They contacted me to make me a very surprising offer.

Due to a health problem of the people that were going come to Prague with them, they were left with two tickets to the Opera that could not be refunded, so they decided to give them good use and invite me and my wife to go with them.

Philistine as I am, I had never been to the Opera (despite having lived here for six years), but I was curious. So I didn't hesitate to accept the invitation.

To make it short, we had a great time. We had dinner at the Klub the evening before and we both found Francisco and Bea very nice and fun to be with. The Opera we s…

Not so high expectations anymore

When I posted my tasting notes from three of the beers from Pivovar Pivovar Žatec I made clear that I was not too crazy about them, in fact, that they had disappointed me. I still had two left to taste and I wanted to give them a chance.

They turned out to be three, Export and Lučan were joined by Velikonoční 15°, an Easter beer.

It was this seasonal brew the first one I tasted, not bottled, but on tap. They had it at Pivní Galerie when I went to buy the bottles. It's kvasnicové of deep golden colour and a nice spongy head. The nose is dominated by ripe fruit, supported by honey and mild citrus notes, quite pleasant. It was the honey what I first felt when drinking it, followed by sugary fruit and a short pleasant citrus finish. So far, so good. I made a little mistake by ordering a pul litr, instead of a smaller dose (0.3l). However, contrary to what is common when drinking bigger doses of strong beers, this one didn't saturate my sense. Halfway down the glass it seemed as if t…

Tax time!

Normally nobody would go with a smile to the tax office to leave their tax return. I'm not an exception. Taxes got me in a bad time, my finances still more than a bit shaken after moving. Fortunately, not far from my tax office there is a place that I had wanted to visit for some time, U Klokočnika. If beer prices at U Rokytky date from 2002-3, those at U Klokočnika are still older.

But it's not just any beer they tap there. I wouldn't go to such a remote place just for a Gambáč, no matter how cheap it can be (well, after having a look at my bank balance, I might consider it). What you can find there are the beers of Pivovar Kácov.

Pivovar Kácov is something between a brewpub and a small industrial brewery. Some of its capacity is used by Pivovarský Klub to brew Štěpán, and by the former brew master of Ferdinand to brew his brand Bohemia Gold. According to the brewery's web page (it's only in Czech, but if you still want to have a look at it, go to www.pivovarkacov.c…

Cuts

The other day reading a post in Buena Cerveza (Sp) about the world famous Newcastle Brown Ale, I noticed one of the comments mentioning how this beer is made, basically mixing a brown ale that isn't sold and amber ale that is marketed separately.

Czechs have a name for this: řezané pivo, or cut beer.

It isn't a beer style, but some sort of beer cocktail that is drunk quite often at hospody all over the country.

Many are the Czech dark beers that have more or less intense caramel or toffee flavours and, in some cases, roasted coffee or cocoa. Mixing them with a typical Czech Golden Lager, those with a lot of Saaz, full of fruity, citrusy and herbal flavours, you can get a drink with more than interesting, and sometimes pretty complex notes. If both beers used are of good quality, they will contrast and empower each other, it will also be possible to feel the characteristics of each while some new flavour entity forms in our mouths.

In the hands of a good výčep (the person tapping …

Smoky feelings

More than a style Rauchbier is a whole family of beers. Typical of the German city of Bamberg, they are rather unknown and, for many, an acquired taste. For something more detailed about this fascinating beers, read the the very good post that Evan Rail wrote for his blog.

A couple of weeks ago some bottles from Bamberg appeared on the shelves of Pivovarsky Klub. I've been told that someone who goes to Germany and brings a few cases is the person we should thank for being able to taste these most interesting beers (which tend to dissappear very quickly).

I had my first contact with them about a year ago when someone gave me to taste a glass. I was impressed. Since then I was only able to drink kouřové pivo, from Chýně, not the same, but still very good. This time, when I saw the bottles, I didn't hesitate and picked a Rauchweizen and a Märzen Rauchbier. I wanted to taste them with a more critical eye than that first time.

I started with Rauchweizen because it was the one I wasn&#…

Close to the heart

It's sometimes difficult to remain objective. Those who know me are aware of my warm feelings towards Pivovar Svijany. It was then with joy that attended their presentation at Pivovarský Klub.

I had some illusions that they would be presenting something new and surprising, but I wasn't expecting much, actually. Still, I was looking forward to sampling three of their products for the first time.

The event was mostly hosted by Svijany's brewmaster, Mr Petr Menšík. I liked him. Other brewmasters I've seen at these events tend to be very serious, almost like a lecturer at university. He just sat there talking as if we were his mates at the pub, and at times being rather combative (the shots aimed at the big brewers). All while he talked about the history of Svijany. In 1997 Pivovary Praha (now Staropramen, then owned by Bass & Co.) had signed the brewery's death sentence. Svijany would have suffered the fate of several others, had it not been by their current owners …

Those good old days!

The year is 2002, Euro and USD over 30CZK. New in my Prague life. Adapting, meeting new people. Drinking a lot of beer, 6-8 pints the average on a weekday, who knows how much at the weekend. In those crazy days going to a hospoda and having lunch for less than 100CZK was par for the course, and it wasn't at all hard to find places where the price for half litre of dvanactká was 20CZK.

Now, in 2008, Euro at 25CZK and the Greenback at 16CZK. Almost six years in Prague. Adapting to my new home and getting to know the new nieghbours. I still drink beer, but much, much less than back then. Occasionally things get a bit out of control and I have 8 pints in one afternoon. Nowadays having lunch for 100CZK is a nice remembrance, and I can consider myself lucky if find a place where to have a pint of dvanacká at 30CZK. Or no...

Libeň, for reasons that are evident to those who live here, is not on the must-see list for visitors. The area around Palmovka metro station is no exception, despite t…

Sheer beauty!

"Be glad we didn't buy our house in Chýně", I once told my wife.
"Why?", she asked.
"You wouldn't see much of me, I would live at the brewpub!"
Because it is that good and more.

Located 10 minutes by bus 347 from that abomination that is Zlíčin, Pivovarský Dvůr Chýně u Prahy is a treasure, and it's one of my favourite places in the world.
Among the average consumer, their beers are virtually unknown, but ask some real beer lover and their eyes will roll while they utter sort of compliments.

I try to go there as much as I can. When I have a long break between clients and the bus schedule works on my favour, I go for lunch. But not the restaurant, I go next door to the pivovarská krčma. There are a couple of reasons. First, the restaurant has the atmosphere of a waiting room, other than the kettles that dominate the room, it is cold and impersonal. Second, the price of the beer, 40CZK for a pint. The krčma, on the other hand, is small and cozy. The me…

Pilsner vs. Urquell

Can a product compete with itself? Everybody knows that canned beer is different than bottled, which in turn is different than draught but can draught be different from draught?.

Pilsner Urquell, along with Budvar, is the most famous Czech beer and the most legendary. Bottled or from a keg it is far from being my favourite beer. The same can be said of the other brands of SAB-Miller in the Czech Republic, Gambrinus, Velkopopovický Kozel and Radegast. It lacks character and, apart from its distinctive bitterness, it's got nothing that makes it interesting for me. It is a one dimensional beer, and the other brands are even worse.

But if what we are thinking about is tanková, then we are talking about something else here. In this version, Pilsner Urquell is still a great beer. Everything that the other presentations lack, this one has. More compact head, nicer mouth feel and a very distinctive flavour, with more fruit and more complex, but still with the classic bitterness from the S…

Elevating the spirit

The other day with my better half, we celebrated our fifth anniversary together. Every year we go for dinner to a different place, somewhere fancier than usual. this time we chose Klášterní Šenk.


This restaurant is located in the area of the Břevnov monastery, in the neighbourhood of the same name, not too far from Prague's Castle. Nowadays the place is open to the public and you can walk around its beautiful gardens and admire the imposing baroque church of St. Adalbert and St. Margaret.

Atheist as I am, my spiritual calling was good food and good beer. Fortunately, both can be found at Klášterní Šenk.

I knew this restaurant already. I had been there several times and had always liked their food. Not only because it tastes really good, but also because it's great value for money. It also has a very nice atmosphere, and if that wasn't all, everything can be washed down with excellent Klášter beers, but gold and dark.

The restaurant is in a building that before must have been s…

Not much to say

February was a terribly busy and stressful month for me. All the preparations for the moving took much of my time and energy, leaving me without much chance or energies to go around the beer world as much as I would have liked.

Nothing impressed me too much from the few new things that I was able to taste. The ones that I liked the most this time were old, or not so old, Friends like polotmavé from Bašta o tmavá 14° from Richter, where I was pleasantly surprised by their ležák 12°. It is a very fine beer, but not the best that comes out of Mr. Richter's kitchen. In one of my two visits there, however, I liked it so much that I had to order two pints with my lunch. All the usual things were there, but this time, it was like an orchestra playing at an auditorium with perfect acoustics.

The price, though, goes to a very old and very dear friend. A beer that I've known for a long long time, that I've always liked, but hadn't drunk for quite some time. It happens many times t…

Innaugurating

Champagne (kava or sekt, depending on where it comes from) is the chosen drink to celebrate important events. Few events are more important for a person than moving to their first own house. It means so much, expectations, stress, relief, tiredness and a sense of accomplishment.

The problem is that I am a beer lover and I wanted to toast with a special brew, but at the same time, keep the custom. So I decided to drink beer and champagne at the same time. No, no, no! Don't worry, I didn't make any strange cocktail.

A few months ago, while having lunch with a friend at Pivovarský Klub, Robert cam and in a low voice offered me something very special at a reduced price. Deus, Brut de Fladres, una Bière de Champagne.

The name is no marketing gimmick. This Belgian Ale is brewed by Bosteels Brewery (the same people that make Kwak). After a rather normal brewing process, the beer is shipped to the French region of Champagne where it is bottled and champagne yeasts are added. Then it goes…

I will really miss it!

We have finally settled in our new house. It was a week with a lot of work, putting lights, cleaning, packing and preparing everything for yesterday's moving. Fortunately, we didn't move far from where we lived, so it wasn't much of a problem to make several trips by car to bring all the stuff that we had accumulated.

For me, it was almost six years of living in Velké Přílepy, a village near Prague that was my Czech home from the first day. Several are the things I will miss. The veiw from my terrace and the terrace itself, a perfect place to sit and have something to eat or drink during the warm days, while enjoying the view. And, of course, Špejchar, the local restaurant.

And speaking about Špejchar. I think that what I will miss the most will be to be able to go there with my džbán when I fancied some točené pivo (draught beer).
The džbán is something that every proper Czech household must have. It's a very old tradition, coming from the Middle Ages, when bottled beer …