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Showing posts from October, 2009

Aren't they missing something?

Just as it happened last year, I had a great time with Knut Albert at at Zlý Časy . While we were enjoying several of the 16 beers they had on tap , we spoke about many things, most of them beer related (I bet you are surprised by that). There was a topic that stayed in my mind after the evening was finished. It might be something that does not concern some of the more developed markets, but it does apply to those where the micros are just starting to make some sort of impact. I'm not going to discuss here the advantages of pasteurising/filtering or not, neither of bottle fermenting, because that is not what we talked about with Knut. It was something more cynical, if you want. Picture the scenario: You love "good beer", you might even consider yourself a "beerevangelist". You also make a point in supporting your local micro-breweries (provided their beers are good, of course). You are organising a BBQ. You see the event as a good opportunity to introduce your

What a find!

It might be because the weather chilled so incredibly fast, (really, one day, at the beginning of the month we all were wearing shorts, sandals and t-shirt, less than a week later, it was snowing!) but I had never felt such an intense crave for darker beers. Fortunately, I have plenty to choose from, I live in the Czech Republic, the country where the widest range (gravity-wise) of amber and dark lagers are brewed. So I have plenty to choose from. That is something that, despite living here already more than seven years, I had always overlooked and didn't realise until I saw it written in Decotion , a book written by Ron Pattison . Another thing I had more or less always overlooked is Pivovar Rakovník , a.k.a. Bakalář . The reason is that, to be honest, they don't make anything that stands out. The only exception, perhaps, is their 18° Balling Jubilejní Speciál . The rest are your typical Czech lager. Not that there is anything wrong with that, quite the opposite, but I don'

A Pro

... Well, sort of. It's been already more than two and a half years that this blog is online (the Spanish version at least). I started writing it because I felt I had something to say and share with the rest of the world. There have been many changes, yes, and very likely there will be still more. The reason is that what I have to say and share has also changed or actually, evolved. I don't write hoping to make anyone happy. Of course, the more people that agree with me, the better, but I will not loose any sleep over it. Anyone who doesn't like the contents is free to say so in the comments (which I never moderate) or simply leave the page and never come back. I have no problem with that. Never, ever I've written a single word hoping to catch the attention of someone working in the media and get a job offer. I'd be lying my ass off if I said I never dreamt or fantasised about the possibility. But it was something like the dream or fantasy many men have of spending

The Tap Race: A New Leader

When I first spoke about "The Tap Race", U Prince Miroslava , in Prague 5, was the leader with 13. Not anymore. The other day, when they inaugurated their new rack of 12 taps, which together with other four make a total of 16, Zlý Časy became the new leader. I wasn't surprised. Hanz, the owner, had told me about his plans over a year ago. Still, when I heard the news I was at first glad, then I started having some doubts. Firstly, the diversity of the beers. What's the point of having 16 taps if 14 of them will pour pale lagers? I'm sure there are plenty of people who wouldn't mind that, but still, that's not the idea of having such a wide offer. Secondly, the freshness of the beers. Knowing Hanz as I know him, I was sure he would try to have as many beers from micros as he could get, and Czech micros don't filter. Czech unfiltered lagers are wonderful, but they are not known for their long life, a keg has to be sold in two days, maximum; in fact, eve

Doggy tricks

Pete Brown wrote the other day a very interesting piece on beer marketing . Though he mostly speaks about labels and bottles, Pete also mentions the internet as field where every brewery can play in the same conditions regardless of their size. To this I would add marketing tricks. Yeah, yeah. I know that in the past I have critisised some marketing tricks, from a "new" way to sell a beer so you won't be able to taste it, to an attempt to add a layer of glamour and uniqueness to something that is, at the very best, average. The problem here is that the marketing trick or gimmick isn't backed by a product of quality or actually new, and ends up being only something vacuous and superficial. This doesn't mean, however, that well used, a marketing trick can't be an effective and legitimate tool to promote a brand or a product, or to create hype about it. The Scottish brewery BrewDog , who have been using very well all these low cost tools to sell their beers, h

Belgium in Prague

The good people of Pivo-Pivo carry on with their mission to open minds and palates of český pivaří and the general public. This time is a festival of Belgian beers. Like the previous ones (the one at Christmas , and last Summer's Wheat beer fest) the event will take place in the classy halls of the Mandarin Oriental Hotel . Over 70 different beers will be presented, many of which, I'm sure, have rarely, if ever, been seen in Prague. A great opportunity for those who are already familiarised with the now relatively easy to find Trappist, etc. , and fancy exploring what else has made Belgium such a highly regarded beer country. Once again, the event will be divided in sessions limited to 250 visitors each. The sessions are: Friday 3–5 p.m. and 6–9 p.m.; Saturday 10 a.m.–1 p.m., 2–5 p.m. and 6–9 p.m.; Sunday 2–5 p.m. and 6–9 p.m. Tickets cost 150CZK and can be booked here or can be bought at Zlý Časy , Pivovarský Klub or at the hotel. If the weather continues like this, or not

More taste from Barcelona

It seems that, at least in Spain, I have acquired a reputation , and a good one at that! Thanks to it, the good people of Companyia Cervesera del Montseny thought it would be a good idea to send me some of their beers so I could review them here. Now, together with those I reviewed recently , I have a  small overview of what is happening in Barcelona. CCM , as they like to be called, is one of the many micros that have opened in Catalunya in recent years. They started brewing about two years ago and now make six different beers, including one that is aged in French oak for no less than a year. The three samples I got were +Lupulus , +Malta and +Negra . I loved those names! So simple, yet they can say so much about the beers and what you can expect from them. Pity they aren't given more space on the labels. But instead of talking about something as irrelevant as Graphic Design, I should get to what I do well, tasting beers. I started with +Lupulus , a so called Iber Ale. Before bu

Mo' Wheat!

Who would have said at the beginning of the year that we would see five new industrial wheat beers in the Czech market? First were the ones from Herold , a pale and a dark. Actually, they aren't anything new, but a return after a few years of absence. I reviewed Herold Pšeničný Ležák Světlý here , but I haven't been able to get my hands on the dark one yet. If anyone knows where I can find it, please, let me know! Then the first surprise, the seasonal Dožínkové Pivo , which Heineken.CZ presented about a month ago. OK, Czech to the bone, it isn't, it was brewed by "Czech hands" in Austria, but Heineken promised it will be brewed here next year in one of their breweries. The other two came out almost at the same time. One of them, Černá Hora Velen , had been announced about two months ago , but the other, Svijany Weizenbier was a total surprise for me. I've first heard about it thanks to a comment left on Evan Rail's blog . I really wanted to taste both.

Two Questions

1) Why do some people critisise beers or breweries for being "Commercial" ? What is wrong in being commercial? All breweries are commercial! After all, they make beers that at least enough people will want to drink/buy and then try to sell them for a profit (if they want to prosper, that is). Or is it that we should honour those who brew (perhaps even brilliant) beers that nobody is interested in drinking above those who are successful thanks to brewing "just" good beers? 2) Who was the dimwit, creatively handicapped who came out with the term "Gourmet Beer" ? Is there anything more hollow than "Gourmet" to describe a beer? (Other than "Super Premium", that is). What is it that makes a beer a "Gourmet Beer"? I'm not expecting any answers, but if you want to have a go at them, you'll be more than welcome. Na Zdraví! PS: I've come to the conclusion that I'm also getting tired of the term "Craft Beer" a

Another Family Trip

Okoř has always been one of our favourite places. When we lived in Velké Přílepy we used to go there quite often. It was a very nice and relaxed 4-5km walk, even in Winter. The main attraction of this small village is its castle, or actually, the ruins of a Gothic castle. I'll never get tired of its view, it's got an almost mystic vibe. In fact, all the surrounding area is full of history, magic and legends. We also liked going for a treat to Dělová Bašta , the hospoda at the foot of the castle. It's architecture makes it seem like part of it. It's a very nice place that also has a very special atmosphere, be it outside on the patio or in the Gothic looking room inside. At the beginning there used to be good service, so-so food and well drafted beer (back in the days when Staropramen was decent). At some point there was a change either in management or ownership, which brought better beer ( Budvar ), worse food and abominable service. This made us start going to the r