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Showing posts from July, 2008

Ignoring the giant, well, almost (II)

First part.

When I got to the end of the tree lined street I could see the trolleybus leaving. I would have to wait. Not for too long and, fortunately, it had stopped raining, at least for the time being.

I got off in the centre, at the stop Muzeum. I had to take the tram 4 to get to my next destination. For that I would have to walk a few hundred metres across Smetavý Sady. A walk I would have sure enjoyed a lot more had it not started raining again.

By the time I got to the tram stop, in front of the imposing Synagogue of Pilsen, the Sun had come out, again. The tram arrived very quickly and it less than ten minutes left me at the stop Sokolovská. I was only a few metres from U Rytíře Lochoty.
It's far from Purkmistr, not only distancewise but conceptwise as well. While the hotel and brewery opened last year boasts the fact that beer is made in the premises, Lochoty, opened in 2001, but looking older, is more a neighbourhood hospoda where they happen to brew beer. Actually, when wal…

Ignoring the giant, well, almost (I)

I had the rest of the day free. Some of my clients are on holidays. I considered my options, going home after having lunch somewhere to read stuff on the Internet, maybe watch a DVD I could rent on the way or going to Pilsen and visit the three brewpubs working there.

Guess what I chose.

Actually, I almost didn't go, the day was miserable and it didn't seem it was going to get better. But the maps I had printed from the Internet, the camera, the notes I had taken about public transportation and the book I had to read during the trip were heavy in my bag, so I zipped up my jacket and went to Smíchovské Nádr. to take the 10:24 train.

I could have taken the Student Agency bus from Zlíčin, but I wasn't sure about the schedule, nor the price (cheaper than the train) and I didn't want to go all the way there only to be told that the bus was full and I would have to wait for the next one. Also, I knew the train would leave me closer to the centre and one of the trolleybuses I ha…

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 ha…

BP (Before Pivo)

Before they started brewing some of the finest beers in the world Czechs mostly drank "medovina", which literally means honey wine, but in English is better known as mead.

It's one of the oldest known alcoholic beverages and has a more than dignified history, at least from the mythical point of view. It's believed that it was the Nectar drank by the Olympic gods or the soma, the sacred drink of the Persians. It was also the favourite swill of the Nordic gods. It appears in the legends of Beowulf (at least in the film version:) and in some old Czech legends such as Bivoj and the Boar.

It has since lost its place of honour to beer and wine. However, it has never disappeared, it has always been there, specially at Christmas, when it is very popular to drink it warm.

Despite its Czech name, it's not a wine. It is made in a way similar to beer, though, instead of fermenting an infusion of cereals, an infusion of honey is fermented. At some time in the process different f…

Good and bad

The good first:

It seems that the other great Czech brewer is beginning to realise what year we are living in. After having come out last year with the awful Pardal, following a market trend that had died a couple of years before, now, a bit late but better than never, they have become the fourth brewer to roll out the tanks. The other day, walking in Štěpanska I noticed, on the door of U Šumavy, a sticker announcing nepasterované tankové pivo. Later I heard that Budvar tankový can also be found at U Medvídku, and probably a couple more places around Prague. I didn't notice a big difference between the "new" unpasteurised beer and the good old one; perhaps a bit of a fuller body and more fruit. I must say that Urquell tanková, at the right place, is still better.

But that's not all from Budvar. The consumption of non alcoholic beers has increased considerably in the last few years, something most breweries haven't failed to notice and some of them have even started…

Visiting Relatives

The other day we went to visit some of my better half's relatives in Strakonice, a city at about 160km south of Prague. The excuse, a family celebration. The weather was ideal to sit in the garden, grill something and drink plenty of beer (well, actually, any weather is good for that). The beer of choice was, of course, from the local brewery, Pivovar Strakonice, mostly their Švanda, a new member of the team that seems to have replaced the locally popular "10". As its predecessor, this is a pretty good session beer, light bitterness, but with plenty of body and malty flavour for its 3.8%ABV. But there was one thing that caught my attention on the label.

During and after the presentation that Pivovar Strakonice gave last November at Pivovarský Klub, Evan Rail and I nagged about some bits of the company's marketing. Among them we ranted that, although being so, it wasn't mentioned anywhere that the beers were unpasteurised. When I asked the brewmaster why they were …

Viking landing

A couple of weeks ago I had a very pleasant visit, Knut Albert, a fellow beer blogger from Norway. He was in Prague on a business trip and, as it is his custom everywhere he has to go, he decided to spend an extra day in order to explore the local beer scene.

He arrived on a very warm Sunday. I went to pick him up at his hotel and we both went straight to Zlý Časy to enjoy the brewing wonders of Plzeňský Kraj, from there we went to Pivovarský Klub to have a couple more pints and pick a few bottles to take back to Norway.

It was an ideal afternoon to drink excellent Bohemian Golden Lager, chat about beers and life in general, and have a very good time. It's really remarkable the effect that our beer passion has. Two total strangers, different ages, from different cultures who had never seen each other before can have a great and extended afternoon with nothing more, nor less, than beer as the excuse.

I wont go into the details of the meeting, if you are interested, you can read about …

And we are both happy

So, my male reader. Let's picture this situation. It's a lazy afternoon, you are walking around Vinohrady with your wife, girlfriend, lover, date or one of your many ladyfriends when the munchies strike. As pretty much every other red blooded man would do, you suggest going to a pub.

She's having none of it, she wants to go to a nicer place, maybe have a cup of good tea or a glass of good wine to wash down something sweet or something more appealing to the female taste than the usual beer snack. You, on the other hand, are really craving for a good pint, and you know such thing at places like, say, Louvre are pretty much unheard of (nothing personal, in fact, I love Louvre for cakes and hot chocolate, but their beer is rubbish).

There are a couple of choices that would do the job. Dobrá Trafika is a few blocks away, but you know it will be full and you want something more spacious than their small café. Literarní Kávarna Řetězová could be fine, too, but you really can't …

High temperatures

Except for a couple of rainy days, June was a fantastic month to drink those wonderful summer beers like golden lagers or wheat. And of the latter, there were several and all excellent. Starting, of course, with the every day better and more popular Primátor Weizen. Both bottled and draught it's a beer that has nothing to envy its German counterparts. On a more crafty side, I tasted the superb Pšeníčné from Pivovar Strahov. Mild, but unctuous body, very refreshing banana and cinnamon notes with a deliciously sour finish with a touch of cream. At 59Kc for a half litre (yeah, when they want, they can serve half litre glasses) it's not cheap, but worth it. Also down my gullet went the almost tropical Weizen from Ječmínek Prostějov. A beer almost ideal to pair with a rather spicy lunch.

Ah! But that's not it. During the minifestival at Zlý Časy there were, not one, but two wheat beers. Purmistr Weissbier, from the brand new brewpub of Pilsen, and Duchmaus Weissbier from Stříbro…