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Showing posts from April, 2008

Mamma Mia!

To many the phrase "Quality Italian Beer" might be an oxymoron. The very small Italian beer market (30l/person/year) is dominated by mass produced eurolagers. However, at least in the regions of Piemonte and Lombardia, of eternal wine tradition, there seems to be a craft brewing revolution.

Evan rail was there not long ago and wrote a couple of post in his blog about it (check it here and here). He also brought me a couple of samples, for which I thank him from the bottom of my belly.

We tasted the first one together when he and his wife came to see our new house. Demon Hunter is called, brewed by Birrificio Montegiocco. It comes in a 750ml bottle, wrapped in elegant green paper. The presentation is flawless. According to what was written on the wrapping, the beer wants to be a Belgian style ale. Bottle fermented, brewed with water, barley and wheat malts, sugar and hops, and has a more than respectable 8.5%ABV.

In the glass we have a rich amber beer, almost brown actually, ver…

Short news

I've got little time, but I still wanted to post something before the month is over.

As I had promised myself I would do, I stopped by Zlý Časy. And, as it had been anticipated, they were tapping those three beauties from Zvíkov. While I was enjoying every drop of my pint of Rarášek (which was followed by a gorgeous pint of Tmavé 13°), the owner told me that, taking advantage of the national holiday on Thursday and the de facto holiday on Friday, he will go to Karlovarksý Kraj on a tour of brewpubs, with the intention of bringing a few samples to tap at his hospoda. The excuse, the official opening of their patio on Saturday.

There will be beers from Sokolov, Chýše, Velký Ribník, Forman and maybe more, at least one sample from each. Most of these beers have never seen the light in Prague, and that is a very good excuse to make your way to Nusle this Saturday afternoon. Those who miss it, might not have a second chance, at least not anytime soon, since they want to sell everything th…

Good times

A Pilsner Urquell sign is not likely to make me walk in, a Staropramen sign is enough to make me walk away. What I'm I doing then in Nusle, metres from Nám. Bratří Synků walking into a dive with both signs at the door? What I'm doing going down the dark stairway even after having seen a flag of Beck's, the German version of Stella Artois? The answer is easy. Zlý Časy (Evil Times) doesn't stock Staropramen anymore, they stopped doing it because they were tired of the pressure of InBev's local minion, and because they got tired of selling the subpar beers from Smíchov.
That is in itself good news, but not good enough to make me walk in. Now the phrase "Bohatý výběr piv" (wide assortment of beers) is. You will be excused to take the wide assortment bit with a pinch of salt, but in the Czech Republic there aren't many places where you will find more than two or three beers, usually from the same brewery or group. Here we have five to choose from, two or th…

Good for the spirit...

...At least, because it might not be so for your cholesterol. Though, appearances can deceive.

Pečené vepřové koleno, roasted pork's knee or joint. Just mentioning it will make the mouth of most Czech men (and expats, together with not a few women) water. A glory of hospoda cuisine.

I remember the first time I ate a whole one. I hadn't been in Prague for too long, and I was with a friend at our then favourite hospoda. We were lucky, in a good mood and our plan was a beer session as we used to back then. Koleno was what we both fancied. While ordering I naively asked the waiter to bring some roasted potatoes, too. With an ironic smile and a this-guy-doesn't-know-what-he's-doing face, he said "bread is better". I shrugged and decided to follow his qualified advice. And well I did. What we were brought a few pints later looked like two brontosaurus knees. The people with whom we were sharing the table stopped talking, actually, I think the whole place stopped talk…

Mediocrity

I had hesitated to attend this month's beer tasting. I went mostly because of the people and the atmosphere that they generate at Pivovarsky Klub the third Tuesday of every month. It was because this month's guests was Pivovar Žatec. I had already tasted most of their beers and, except for Lučan, I hadn't been the least impressed. So my expectations were pretty much at floor level.

I wasn't disappointed. This must have been the worst presentation that I've attended. For several reasons:

- Pivovar Žatec brews five beers on a regular basis. As you can see in the picture below, there are six bottles. That's because one of them, Premium, has two presentations, the classic 0.5l bottle for the domestic market and a 0.355l long neck bottle for export. They forgot to mention that, and If it hadn't been for Aleš Dočkal's very appropriate question (and it wasn't the only one of the day), we might have not known about it. The question that we all forgot to ask i…

Beerevangelism

This entry in Boak & Bailey has generated an interesting debate and gave me some food for thought.
I agree with what Bailey says, for those who are interested in beer it is not enough to sit and enjoy it, but we also feel the need of share our passion with the rest of the world and trying to rescue lost souls.

In a comment Boak seems to give the term Beerevangelism some negative meaning. Which in a way is understandable.

Evangelism, evangelists, evangelise are words that have acquired an almost nefarious meaning. We associate them with some characters of dubious reputation who preach intolerance on cable channels while lining their pockets with the money of their audience, or with the forceful conversion of the native peoples of America. However, the word comes from the Greek and means good news, and evangelists were those who spread them.

Regardless of what each of us might think of the Christian gospels, I am proud of being a Beerevangelist. I don't see anything wrong in spreadi…

Uncertain evaluation

Every expat and immigrant who's been here for a few years had to go there at some point. At the courthouses near the metro station Pražkého Povstaní is where we had to go to get our police record certificate. It many might have been there around noon and felt hungry. Some might have noticed Táborka on the opposite side of the tramway tunnel. Few are those who actually ventured in.

I'm one of those. I think I went there after that first time I was in the neighbourhood. It was a down at heel hospoda that during lunch time was teeming with workers from the area. They had cheap, tasty and more decent food, washed down by good Nymburk beers.

During those first months I would go rather often because I had a student nearby. I hadn't been there since then, and I had actually almost forgotten about it. I noticed it again when I went to deliver my tax return and decided that I had to go back. The excuses, a bit of nostalgia and being able to sample Postrižinské Pivo at one of the few …

From the land of the giant

Krakonoš is a character of Czech and Polish folk tales. He is a gentle giant that lives in Krkonoše, the mountain range in the north of the Czech Rep. It is said that he looks after the forests that cover the mountains and might help people in distress who deserve it. He is shown as middle age man with a long thick beard, always smoking one of those typical Czech pipes; he wears a broad rimmed hat and a thick cape, both dark green, and uses a long walking stick.

Trutnov is a town at the feet of the Krkonoše hills, and the local pivovar is called after this jolly giant, who appears on the label of all their beers.

As many others, Krakonoš brews an Easter beer, and this is the one I'm going to tell you about.

I really like the design of the labels from Pivovar Trutnov. This one in particular is a bit funny because it shows the giant wearing a more summer outfit (he almost looks as Charlon Heston in the 10 Commandments)

I had tasted this beer, fermented at 14°balling, a couple of years a…

If only...

If someone had asked me a few months ago about Klášterní pivovar Strahov I would have advise them to avoid it.

It's got a great location, within the walls of the Strahov Monastery. I've known it for for a long time, but it's a place I've never visited often. The restaurant never had much of an atmosphere going on. The beers brewed in the house were good, but not worth the 59CZK for 0.4l glass.

I must put emphasis on this. I've never disliked the beers, but I've always known that for less you could get better pivo at other brewpubs in Prague. They lacked character and personality, their flavours not intense or interesting enough. Every now and again I would drop by just to check things out. My opinion was always the same. And apparently not mine only, several more people would say that those beers are not worth that much money.

Things started to change one day. I was with friends and Pivovarský Klub and they were tapping one of the beers from Strahov. I thought I w…

Shaken up March

With my life (and at least for the moment my finances) a bit more settled, I was able, in March, to (as much as the wallet allowed) go around beer hunting.
One of my goals was to go to Beroun and taste their Easter beer. I did go to Beroun, but the beer was missing. The brewery was closed for some technical reason and the restaurant had ran out of their beers. Of course that I was very disappointed. Fortunately, they were not tapping any rubbish, Chodovar Sklepní Ležák and Tmavé and Klášter 10°. Nothing out of this world, but it could have been a lot worse.

My next stop was at Pivovar Sv. Norbert, in Stráhov (more on them soon) to taste their Easter brew. This time the beer hadn't gone AWOL. The Jarní Ležák is a golden lager fermented at 13°balling, with 5.3ABV. I found it simply delicious, fantastically hoppy, with finish that tasted almost like grapefruit. It could have been the beer of the month, if it wasn't that they charge 59CZK/0.4l for something that is not much better t…

Literally

It's one of those places I found by chance while wandering about alleys of Staré Město. Near the square and Charle's Bridge, around the corner from the legendary Týgra, but at the same time, light years away from all the rat race. Literární Kávarna (Literary Cafe) Řetězová is just as I like them. Old fashioned furniture, real wood, looking pretty worn out, it invites you to stay, maybe reading a good book or smoking a cigar.

The walls are full of black and white photos, mostly from heroes of Czech contemporary Literature. The ceilings are vaulted and there are persian rugs on the floor.

But the thing I liked the most from the beginning, and actually, what made me walk into this kavárna is their choice of beers. Bernard, no less, they tap desítka, světlá dvanactká kvansicové and the gorgeus tmavé speciál 13°.

When I go I usually start by dvanactká kvansicové. I let myself be carried by its fruity flavours, while soaking up the atmosphere and letting my thoughts go for a walk. The…