Skip to main content

Posts

Showing posts from October, 2008

Since I have the pictures

Being considered "the guy who knows about beer" has its advantages. Sometimes, when friends go on a trip they bring me something new for me to taste. This is how I got these Ukranian beers.

I could probably write a long post with something about the country and it's beer industry, but these five samples took away all my will and inspiration to do so.

(notice: the names are transliterations of the brands on the labels, according to what little Russian my wife still remembers from school)
The first one I drank was Slavutich svjetle. Basically a fourth rate desítka. Something like an eurolager drunk from a glass that was left for some time in the rain.
It was followed by Chernigivskje Premium. Of the lot, the only drinkable one. It wants to be an Eurolager of a higher standard.
The third one was Afanasij Premium Gold. I would say that not even the name was Premium. Awful and with pride. The label isn't too shabby, though. Maybe I could have brewed tea with it, it might have …

Hats off

Those of you who regularly follow this blog might already know that I'm a big fan of Pivovar Náchod, Primátor, for friends. Despite being, at least for now, a state company, actually a municipal company (its sole owner is, at least for the time being, the city of Náchod), it is the most innovative brewery in the Czech Republic. They call themselves specialist in specials, which is a big truth, their line of strong lagers is pretty interesting and appreciated by many of those who know about beer. They are the first industrial brewery, and still the only, to brew top fermented beers. Their brilliant Weissbier has nothing to envy its German industrial pairs; and their English Pale Ale, though misunderstood by some, is an interesting beer, very daring for the conservative Czech market, which seems to be having relative success and which I like a lot.

Imagine my joy when I was told that they were about to come out with a new product. Imagine my curiosity when the product in question tur…

What was its name?

In the six and a half years that I've been living in Prague I must have walked past the door of U Benedicta thousands of times, and not only once I must have thought of going in. There is no clear reason for that. Yeah, it is one of the many restaurants in Prague that won't catch your attention, but I've been to many others that will catch it even less. It isn't very attractive, but I've been to many others that looked even worse. So it wasn't until someone in one of the travellers forums I contribute asked about it that I took notice of its existence. Even then, it took me several months to remember to go.

U Benedikta is located in an rather dark alley metres from Revoluční, pretty much behind Kotva Stores. There isn't much foot traffic, or traffic of any kind actually. The decoration is gloomy. It wants to be traditional or rustic, but actually looks tired, as if nobody has bothered to refresh it for the last 15 years or so.

I was lucky on the day that I fi…

Threesome

The idea came from the same person whom I must thank for this beer. Velky Al, from Fuggled, came back from his visit to the Old Country, Scotland, with three samples of BrewDog Punk IPA, one for me, one for Evan Rail, from Beer Culture, and the third one for himself, with the idea that each of us would taste it and then publish our tasting notes in our respective blogs on the same day. From the beginning I thought it was brilliant, and I am really looking forward to read what my friends thought of this beer.

I didn't know what to expect from it. Which is something I actually like a lot. Not having any idea of what I am about to drink makes it easier to evaluate and, if you want, be more objective.

Rergarding the brewery, I had heard and read some good comments. It is Scottish and has a reputation of innovation and top quality products.

Regarding the style. Well, those who know me are aware of what I think about styles. I don't care much about them. If I like a beer, it is absolut…

Struggler

After having missed the previous two, I was really glad to be able to attend again the monthly beer tasting at Pivovarský Klub. This month it was the turn of Pivovar Broumov, Opat for friends.

In its many encarnations Pivovar Broumov has been brewing since 1348. And actually, it belonged to the Church for 600 years, until it was confiscated by the Communist regime in 1948, and then collectivised with several others into what would become Východočeské Pivovary, which would later evolve into Pivovary Hrádec Králove, until 1997, when it was privatised. Since then it will go through several hands until it landed in those of its current owners, in 2006.

Despite the energy and dedication that these new owners have been putting on their enterprise, the brewery is not having a very good time. Like most small regional breweries, it is having a hard time fighting the megamonsters and their less than fair play tactics. More so when even the restaurant owned by the town hall prefers to stock Gambri…

Redeemed

A couple of months ago I lamented the massive drop in the quality of the beers of Pivovar Bašta. It seems now that it was just a hiccup. Shortly afterwards friends started telling me that they had been there and the beers were really good. That 15° the people from the Nusle brewpub presented at Slunce ve Skle somehow confirmed the good news. Yet I still had to go there and see by myself how general the improvement was.

And there I went. I was glad to see they were tapping to beers I hadn't tasted before, a pšeničné and a nakouřované. I started with the former, the wheat beer, that unfortunately only comes in 0,3l glasses. The first one vanished in an instant. It was lovely! A bit darker and less cloudy than others, in the nose I noticed mild cinnamon and clove, yeasts, herbs and some banana, everything very subtle, like a good parfume. The flavour was a game between banana and peach, both spiced by clove. The finish starts up sour, but not agressive, and ends in a more ležáky note.…

Nothing special

Steak Restaurant Hradčanská is potentially well located, just opposite the metro station and tram stops of the same name. However, there isn't much foot traffic on that side of the street, and people that can see it while waiting for their trams can't cross, but have to go all the way to the underground pass, which must discourage most.

Those few that bother will find a small place with just a handful of tables and very little atmosphere. Actually, it looks more like a bar by a train or bus station than a restaurant, meaning that it does not make you stay, but just get something quick to kill a little time. All this is enhanced by the soundtrack. A Mcradio, one of those that, except for a few concessions to local interpreters, plays the same prefabricated music the world over. Ok, the music thing is a matter of tastes, but what really irritates me is the agressive advertising and the silly blond voice of the host that seem to attack you every five minutes or so.
I got there a bi…

Bitter Reunion

There was almost nothing very interesting on tap the other day when I went on my weekly visit to Pivovaský Klub. I ordered only a pint of the brilliant Regent Tmavé, and while I was drinking it I pondered what I would drink next. The shelves were full to burst and they had on them some beers that I hadn't drank for some time.

I went for the magnificent Vyškov Jubiler 16,80°. It was a delicious reuning, after several months. It is a beer that I like more and more each time I drink it. Between sips, scanning the shelves I noticed something I hadn't drunk for many years, and wanted to taste again.

During the few months that I lived in Stuttgart I tasted a lot of different beers. Only two stayed in my memory as something special, Jever Pils and Paulaner Salvator. I remember the first time I drank the latter, it blew my mind. I thought it was something from another planet. So I was pretty excited when I was brought the bottle.

The excitement lasted until the first sip. It wasn't b…

Facing reality

Consumption of non alcoholic beers in the Czech Republic has increased dramatically in the last couple of years. I don't have any figures (as an investigative journalist, I'm quite lazy), but you can believe me.

There are various reasons for this. New traffic laws, although drinking and driving has been illegal here for many years controls nowadays are more strict and fines (or bribes) a lot more expensive. A slow, yet constant, change in lifestyle, there are more and more people, specially among the young, that are watching their diets and have lowered their intake of alcohol. A change in the corporate culture of many companies, together with the relocation of their offices to metal and glass boxes in the outskirts of town; having a beer or two with lunch is not an option anymore for many, be it because their employer forbids it or because the canteen of their (at least) eight hours a day prison does not sell booze.

All this, of course, has not escapted the attention of breweri…

Vintage 2008

I almost forget to post this!

This year, in the garden of our new house, we planted many things (all legal), aromatic herbs, tonnes of flowers and bushes, tomatoes, zuccini and even a tree, and we still have to plant a few fruit trees before winter. Of all that, what excited me the most were two specimens of a vine that I found one day at the garden centre where we usually buy things for our garden.

This is a beer and food blog! Many of you might be complaining already. Patience my friends, because the plant in question couldn't be any more related to the main topic of this blog.
I'm sure many of you have recognised it. It is no other than our good old friend Humulus lupulus. I don't know what variety it is. The label that the vines had said that they are humulus lupulos aureus, and that they seem to come from Poland. We planted them more as a decorative thing, we were not expecting to get anything from them this year. I was really surprised when buds started to appear that l…

On some marketing bollocks and a new converts

The other day I had a, not quite, surprise visit from Spain. My almost brother in law and our great friend Fernando (owner of La Barraca, a proper beer pub in Ávila, Spain), came togehter with the Spanish representative for the Pilsner Urquell Bartender of the year competition as guests of the brewery.

They were all accommodated in a posh hotel in the centre of Prague. They were taken on a tour to the world famous and legendary brewery, were fed and given drink until it came out of their ears; in sum, they were very well treated. And, acording to what they told me, the organisation of the whole thing was flawless, as it would be expected from a company like Plzeňský Prazdroj, experts when it comes to marketing and PR.

As they are in the fine art of marketing bollocks. The hotel lobby was dressed in the colours of the brewery. I was waiting for them there while they went to fetch their luggage and check out, when I noticed, written on poster on one of the walls, the claim that Pilner Urq…

Experimenting

I haven't posted a recipe for a long time. This one was inspired by my better half.

When we went to the Slunce ve Skle festival we didn't go back home empty handed. We brought with us some bottles and a couple of treats, a jar of škvarková pomazánka (a spread made with pork drippings, mustard and spice) that was simply delicious and great for breakfast, and a jar of dark lager marmelade.

The latter would become the magic ingredient in the following recipe.
Ingredients (for two):

3 por steaks tenderised (just in case soneone wants to have seconds)
250cl of pale bitter lager
Curry powder
2 or 3 rosemary springs
some sage leaves
some fresh mint leaves
2 tablespoons of dark lager marmelade
salt, pepper, sunflower oil.
Finely chop herbs and put them in a bowl with the curry and the pepper. Add about half of the beer and mix. Put previously salted steaks in the marinade and let them stay for 60 to 90 minutes at room temperature.
In a very hot pan with some oil put steaks and fry them until golde…

Autumn is here

Warm weather is over, it was just like that, no smooth transition. One day it was warm, the next, it was autumn. My finances have improved, thoughnot that drastically. Not enough to allow me to go back exploring, but I still managed to attend two wonderful beer festivals.

How many wonderful beers I had at those festivals! And the several more that went down during last month.

I had chosen a winner pretty much at the beginning of September. Not only because of the quality of the beer, but more for the sake of being subversive and a bit controversial. It was Kukuřiční Ležák from Chýně. Yes, a maize beer. It was partly inspired by this post in "A Good Beer Blog". I had tasted and liked the top fermented version last year, this year, it was bottom fermented and I liked it even more. Together with those fruity notes that are almost a signature of the beers from Chýně, the corn could be felt almost like popcorn. The beer never tries to hide its cursed ingredient, quite the contrary,…