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Showing posts from August, 2009

Well, what a suprise!

Before I get to the point, let me remind you of the products that Primátor put on the market in the last few years: 2003: Weizenbier . One of my favourite beers. To my taste, better than most Bavarian wheat beers I have drunk. 2005: Poltomavé 13% . To me, the best in its category. 2006: English Pale Ale . Regardless of how "true to style" it might be, it's wonderful that a Czech industrial brewer is making a pretty decent Ale in Lagerland. 2008: Stout . A fantastic beer. Recent winner of Best of the World in the Oatmeal Stout category. So, as you might imagine, when word on the street was that Primátor was going to announce a new product, many got quite excited and wondered what the "Specialist in Specials" had ready for us. Well, it turned out to be a simple Jedenáctká , a pale lager brewed at 11 degrees Balling. Nothing special with that, really. Some "blamed" the new owners, LIF (also owners of Svijany and Rohozec ), for this change in philosphy

Much room for improvement

Although Barcelona and its surroudings are leading the Spanish craft beer movement, the rest of the country doesn't seem to want to be left behind. Many microbreweries have opened recently and, slowly, they are getting the attention of consumers. I received four samples from two micros from Asturias (thanks Raquel!), about which I had absolutely no references. That's great! The first two that fell in the line of duty came from Cervecería La Xana (couldn't find a webpage). The samples were Toastada and Negra , both Ales, both with 6.2%ABV. How I would love to speak extensively about this beers! You know, write those poetic tasting notes all of you have come to love. Unfortunately, that won't be possible. Both beers were off. I know how much Asturians like their cider, I believe it's their national drink. But I don't think they love it so much as to flavour beer with apple wine, because that was the way both beers tasted. The difference was that Tostada tasted

Tie in Žižkov

There is no doubt in my mind that Žižkov is the beer capital of Prague, and maybe even of the whole of the Czech Republic. I don't know of any other neighbourhood with so many hospody, restaurants and cafés that offer such a wide range of beers. There were two spots that I'd been wanting to visit for quite some time. Both open in the afternoon and the other day, thanks to a last minute cancellation, I was able to visit them at last. I started with the one that opens earlier, Žižkovská Pivogalerie . I had read in Svět Piva that this hospoda had adopted the "rotating tap" system and that they ussually stocked beers from Rebel and Poutník , two brands rarely seen in Prague. I was expecting a much bigger place. By the entrance there is a pretty small room, with just a couple of tables and the bar. There is another one in the back, but it looked closed, it was still early. Besides the bartender, there were only two patrons, both sure regulars. I asked what was on tap. Sv

From another perspective

I've been following the debate about professional vs amateur beer writers in Alan's and Knut Albert's blogs. Understandably, the discussion goes around what is written and published in English. Being an Argentine that lives in Prague, who also happens to write about beer in Spanish , I thought I could give my two cents, but from a different perspective. The brewing industry is very important in the Czech Rep., so beer is mentioned quite often in the printed media. There are reports and articles about price increases, the hop harvest, closings, openings and mergers of breweries, new products, etc, and the brewpub boon has not gone unnoticed, either. However, most of that appears in the business of financial sections of newspapares and magazines. There is very little that's written from a critical point of view. It is as if the printed media didn't want to antagonise the big breweries, who are an important source of advertising revenues. And for the moment, there is

Sometimes less is better

U Radnice is a hospoda that has gone through many changes in the last two years or so. When I first went there, they were still tapping beers from the now defunct Pivovar Podkovaň . After circumstances forced them to seek a new supplier, they started with Svijany and Rohozec , only to switch to Krakonoš after some time, which in turn was briefly replaced by Kout na Šumavě . Now it seems that they have settled for Konrad as their supplier. It seems that even the name has changed, according to their webpage (another new thing), the restaurant is now called U Šuvinky , something that isn't all that clear because nobody has bothered to remove the signs with the old(?) name. I hadn't visited this Žižkov pub for quite some time, and if it hadn't been by an email from Derrick, one of my readers in England, I wouldn't have known about the minifestival of Moravian micros they were holding. Since I wasn't very familiar with some of the breweries listed, I went as soon as

Four more vikings

After White Dog I still had four bottles left in the box that Gunnar had sent me. All from the same brewery, Haandbryggeriet . I had tasted one of their beers, Rumjol , a Christmas brew that I had liked a lot, packed with flavour despite having only 4.5%ABV. I was really looking forward to tasting these four samples, all very different to one another. There was a Belgian style brew, a smoked beer with juniper, a Douple IPA and a pretty strong dark Ale. It's not that Gunnar picked the four oddballs of the brewery's portfolio, if you go to their webpage, you'll see that the whole product line is pretty interesting. I decided to start with Ardenne Blond , which for some reason I thought it would be similar to White Dog, and I wanted to compare them. I was so wrong. Ardenne Blond is a completely different beer. It's stronger to begin with, 7.5%ABV. It pours deep gold, almost orange. The head doesn't last too long and there is a bit too much visible carbonation. The nos

Real Potential

While some breweries are working hard at reducing or dumbing down their product line , there are others that, fortunately, are doing the exact opossite. A couple of months ago Herold brought back from the dead their pseničné pivo , which, though not as good as Primátor Weizen , is a very decent product that can be easily compared with the better known Bavarian brands. But it seems they haven't had enough. Pivovar Březnice "announced" (meaning that I was told by someone with no connection to the brewery) a Dunklesweizen a couple of weeks ago. Actually, it's not an entirely new product, either, they used to brew it in the nineties, according to what I've heard. I haven't been able to taste it yet, it is only available in kegs and I haven't been lucky enough to get it anywhere, but just the fact that it is out there is reason enough to celebrate in my books. And they aren't the only ones taking the wheat road. Word on the street is that Pivovar Černá Hor

Tail Wagger

As I told you the other day , my friend Gunnar sent me a box with five Norwegian craft beers together with a bottle of Westvleteren 12 . The first of those that I opened was White Dog , from Lervig Aktiebryggeri , which has a rather nice story. Gunnar told me that in his town there used to be a brewery that made the favourite tipple of those who lived there. At some point that brewery was bought by a bigger one, which eventually closed it, resulting in the "local beers" being shipped from Oslo (sounds familiar?). Fortunatelly a few years ago Lervig opened and once again the town had a trully local beer. White Dog is their first attempt at something non-lager. When I first looked at the label I read "Based on medieval Norwegian traditions". Then I looked at the ingredients and noticed they were very similar to those of a Witbier. I was already preparing a very funny witticism about that when I read the label a bit more carefully. It turned out that it said Belgian

An example to follow (II)

Zabiják z Nusli , the custom brewed beer commissioned by Zlý Časy last spring was a big success, so Nusle's beer temple once again joined forces with renown homebrewer Petr Buriánek and Tomáš Mikulica , brewmaster at Pivovarský Dvůr Chýně , to create Nuselské Bilé , a Czech style Witbier. With 11,2° Balling, this beer was brewed with wheat and barley malts, unmalted wheat, hops, coriander and orange and curaçao peel. Its colour is a couple of tones darker than that of a witbier as we are used to. In the nose there is spice, fruit and sweet oranges, all with grainy base. Although a bit more fruit would have been nice, it still a well balanced beer, and it shows they didn't cut corners with the special ingredients, each one of them can be felt aplenty making the beer all too very easy to drink. And people are drinking it and liking it, a lot. They are selling about a 50l keg a day. So if you want to taste it, better hurry up. But perhaps the most interesting thing was the conve

Been there, done that

I've already spoken about my philosphy when tasting a new beer . Basically, it's about concentrating only on what I have in the glass, ingoring everything that has been written or said about the beer in question. Of course, it's easier said than done with many beers, and with some, it's downright impossible. A couple of weeks ago Gunnar sent me from Norway a box with six beers, one of them without label. I recognised the bottle as Westmalle's, but I thought it was a home brew. When I had a better look at the cap I noticed that it was none other than Westvleteren 12 , yeah, the same that got stuck with the stupid tag of "The Best Beer in the World" . How was I going to taste something like this? (I'm not going to tell you the story around the brewery, most of you already know it, and those who don't, look it up! The internet is a wonderful tool for that). This beer's got the kind of hype that is impossible to ingore and, whether you want it or n