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Showing posts from December, 2008

Among celebrations

The year is coming to an end and it is about time to review 2008 from the beer point of view. Well, you will have to wait for that because this post is the tradional one dedicated to the beer of the month.

In December all the Christmas specials came out to the field, some very good, others not so. Among the former there are a few worth a special mention: Chýně Světlý Svateční 14° that paired wonderfully with the traditional Christmas carp and potatoe salad. U Medvídku 1466 that showed up quite surprisely, it was already very nice a week before the festivities, but its creator told me that I should drop by after New Year and tate it from the barrel he's been saving. Harrach Vanoční, somewhat similar to that one from the same brewery I had bottled, but a bit darker and with more expressive flavours. Among the industrial beers the ones I liked the most were Opat 17%, with its intriguing spicy notes, despite not having any spices in its recipe, and Janáček 14%, with a very good balanc…

La Ronda #7: Beery Christmas

For the December edition of "La Ronda" we chose something not very original, but still interesting, I think. The topic was the following:

"What beer, or beers, will you drink with your Christmas dinner or lunch?. And since the Spanish speaking beer bloggers are not from beer countries, they were also asked to talk about the reaction fo the family.

As mentioned in the previous post, this was going to be a very special Christmas for us because it was going to be the first we would be celebrating at our new home.

Everything turned out very well. We had bought the tree a couple of weeks earlier. On Monday 22 we went to buy the fish that would be dinner, a carp, following the tradition of going somewhere where they are sold alive. Tuesday afternoon we decorated the tree and prepared the potatoe salad, and Wednesday morning we finished preparing the table and left everything ready to receive my in-laws.

I had left a few bottles of Svijanský Rytíř chilling outside. They were soon…

Christmas Greetings

To all those of you who are one way or another celebrating something during these days. I want to wish you all the best and more. Thank you very much for reading this blog, recommending it, commenting and participating. I hope will keep on doing so next year.

Around here, all the presentas have bene bought and wrapped, the food is already in the fridge or the pantry. Mi wife is right now decorating the tree. This is going to be a very special Christmas for us, it will be the first we celebrate in our new home.

Needless to say, good beer won't be missing. I have an interesting selection that will give me a lot to think about in the coming days. Representatives from eight countries will go down my gullet sooner or later.

There are of course Czech beers and also from Norway, Scotland, one from Germany, one from Belgium and one from Denmark.

Together with these three Czechs. They are mostly to pass the afternoons. There are multiple bottles of each.

And in the last moment four from my coun…

Ambition. Style. Beers

Last year's Christmas Beer Festival was at one of the halls of Vytavyště Praha. Though it wasn't at all bad, it lacked some atmosphere and the selection of beers could have been better, there wasn't food either. However, its concept was more akin to other Czech beer festivals and the entrance, if I remember well, was free.

I must admit that when I first heard that this year's edition was going to take place at the very posh Hotel Mandarin Oriental - Praha I wasn't too happy at first. Later, when I realised what the idea and the goal the choice of such an unusual venue for a beer event was, I started looking at it with different eyes and begun looking forward to it.

Honza Kočka was the event's organiser and his goal was the same as Evan Rail's with the tastings he's been holding at the same hotel, to show beer as a drink to a new audience. I don't know how successful the festival was in terms of attendance and sales, I still have to receive the figures…

Cathing some attention

The other day I received a very interesting email. It was from an advertising agency and they asked me if I would be interesting in embedding in my Spanish site a video of one of their clients. It was for the campaign in Argentina for Stella Artois. They said they would pay me for every hit coming from my motherland. They also tried to sell me the idea by telling how well made the piece is and how much the people visiting my website would enjoy watching it.

I would be lieing like a campaigning polititian, if I said I wasn't at least a little flattered by the offer. After all, whether we like it or not, Stella Artois is (at least for the moment) the flagship product of the biggest brewing group in the world. That, either directly or indirectly, my blog has caught their attention is something that makes me feel pretty good.

Needless to say, I rejected the offer. It is a moral question, I didn't even bother to see how much they would have paid me (though if the email had mentioned …

If you fancy something different

Prague in the holiday season is something magic. The Christmas markets in Old Town Square is something you can't miss, the atmosphere is unique, and the svařák (mulled wine) is arguably the best in the country. Truth is also that those markets don't change at all throughout the days and if you've seen them once you will have experienced everything they have to offer. So, what can you do the weekend right before Christmas? (other than loosing your sanity at the malls). Fortunately, beer has a solution.

Pivní Vánoční Trhy 2008. The Beer Christmas Markets 2008 are going to be really interesting. They are taking place at the luxury Hotel Mandarin Oriental and have as main goal help our favourite swill to get the place it deserves in the high end gastronomy market.

The entrance is 150CZK and can be reserved here, or you can buy them at Zlý Časy, První Pivní Tramvaj and Tlustá Koala, in the centre. Needless to say, they will be also available at the hotel, though you might risk no…

To warm up

For many, beer means a yellowy drink of low ABV that is drunk at artic temperatures, many others, however, know that that isn't the way beer showld be enoyed, regardless of what the macros would like to make us believe. Yet few are those who would consider drinking beer at room temperature. The question then is: can you enjoy a beer at the same temperature you would drink red wine? It depends on the beer, of course.

The idea for this "experiment" happened almost by accident. One afternoon I fancied having a pint (strange, isn't it?) only to realise that I had nothing cooling in the fridge. I didn't feel like waiting for one to chill in the freezer, so I took a bottle of Bernard Černý that I had in the cellar (actually a little room under the stairs that keeps a few degrees cooler than the rest of the house), thinking that maybe it won't be bad. Even before opening the bottle I thought I could make a selection of dark beers to taste them at room temperature, al…

Identity Crisis

Svatý Norbert Vanoční Speciál model 2008 has given a lot to talk about. It was one of the seasonal beers that I was most looking forward to drinking again. Last year's had blown my mind. I described it then as "an explosion of hops that demolishes everything else", yet very well balanced by velvety syrupy notes. The kind of beer many dream about.

Velký Al tasted it before me and his review of the beer was a big surprised, and not at all pleasant. Al describes it like driking alcoholic honey. Then he would confess that he'd had "a couple" of pints before going to Strahov, so it might be that his senses were not very finely tuned. Still, just by looking at the photo he published in his blog made me realise that it was not the same beer. I remember model 2007 a couple shades darker.

I already had planned to make the pilgrimage to the Strahov Monastery, but fortunately, my weekly visit to Zlý Časy spared me the trouoble and saved me quite a few Crowns. Last year,…

Christmas Flavours

After coming back from Bělec we went to have a bite at a forgettable place and returned to Pivoňka to prepare the Christmas beer tasting, which was going to take place in the nice and very well conditioned cellar that the owner of the building lets Filip use for events like this. It is a very coze place, specially considering the nasty weather outside.
The samples were going to be five, two of them I knew: Opat 17° Sváteční speciál and Krakonoš 14° Vanoční Speciál. The rest would be something new for me: Holba Vanoční Šerák 13.51%, Janáček Vánoční speciál and Weltenburger Kloster Winter Traum, a German guest.

The attendants started to arrive. To warm up we started with Kocour Pale Ale, which I liked more than the last time I had drunk it. Very dry, but with a mild fruity undertone to balance it. Light bodied and very drinkable.One curiousity about this beer, the label lists rye as the first ingredient after water.
The first to come out was Janáček Vánoční speciál. When I saw the Balling…

Bad weather vs. Good beer

The weather was still misserable, hadn't changed a bit since the day before. We stayed in our room watching TV until it was time to check out. We had slept well and breakfast had been plentiful. We didn't have any reason to rush, we had agreed with Filip to meet at 2.30.

In the end, we didn't have any other choice than going to the centre. Fortunately, it had stopped raining when we found a place to park, so we went the part of the town that we had missed the day before. We strolled by the place where the city's fortifications had been, now a wide boulevard lined with trees that at some point goes around the surely more colourful in Spring Žižkový Sady.

Hunger started nagging my wife. It was already 12. The day before I had seen a restaurant with the Svijany sign outside, and another one with Ferdinand's, both almost next to Velké Nám. We chose the former, that was the nicer looking from the outside. It was closed. It was already well past 12 (its opening hour) and t…

Christmas? What Christmas?

I'm not a big Christmas person, but I have to admit that I do love the atmosphere that is generated in Prague when Christmas decorations start to show up in the streets (excluding the ones at malls that are put already in October, I hate those) and the markets. So one of the things that we were looking forward to seeing the most in Hrádec Králove were the decorations that would surely adorn Velké Náměstí, the town's main square, while enjoying something tasty at the Christmas market that we had no doubt would be there.
The impression we got was was of having arrived in the middle of January. Not a single light, only a tree by the Church Svatého Duha (of the Holy Spirit), that looked like something someone had forgotten to take away, and that was it. Of a market, not a hint. The weather didn't help either, rather windy, cold and threatening rain, very unpleasant. We walked around the streets, squares and alleys (very pretty all of them) for some time and started to think of …