28 Oct 2009

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't buy them because they aren't as easy to find as, say,  Svijany or Bernard (or actually, because the place where I buy beers by the case doesn't stock it and I can't be arsed with going anywhere).

The other day I had to go to the Dejvice branch of the supermarket chain Billa (had to buy something for the baby) and I came accross Bakalář Polotmavé Výčepní. I took a couple of bottles. It wasn't only that I had never drunk this beer from Rakovník, I didn't even remember having a beer of that style at all! I wasn't expecting anything special, really, but It's always good to have something new.

And what a surprise I got!

With 4.5%ABV Bakalář Polotmavé Výčepní must be in the upper limit of its category (Výčepní are beers brewed at a range of 8 to 10.99 degrees Balling). It pours a glass-like dark amber with a hue between ocher and brown. Even when pouring carefully it forms a generous spongy head with a pretty long life. A very handsome beer indeed. There isn't much in the aroma, caramel, mostly, with some roasted notes there in the back, but you'll have to stretch your nose a bit to catch them. It's light bodied, as expected, but with a surprising pack of flavours. Caramel base, almost toffee, with a healthy touch of licorice and roasted notes in great balance, which vanish in a mild dry herbal finish. Wonderfully easy to drink, perfectly sessionable. It is very difficult to resist the temptation of opening another bottle (and why should you?) and it must be impossible to drink only one at a place where they have it well tapped (which I hope to find soon).
It's also nice to wash down some foods, in the picture it is together with a piece of roasted smoked meat, potato salad and rye bread. A simple, but tasty lunch, with a simple, but tasty beer.

Na Zdraví!

Choose a Hotel in Prague in the city centre.

5 comments:

  1. Mmm and i have a bottle of the 555 Jubilee in the fridge. I think one bar has Bakalar, will let you know when i find out.

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  2. I know of a couple of places that stock Bakalář. Don't know if they have this polotmavé, but I want to check it out.

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  3. I think I've seen Bakalář pilsner (or whatever they call it) on sale in London but didn't even clock that it was Czech. The dark beer looks great and I definitely want rye bread, smoked meat and potato salad for lunch tomorrow.

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  4. I had a good glass of bakalar polotmavy at a little cafe/bistro on stepanska, just off jecna towards the old town. Kind of an odd place, feels sort of like an american diner though the owner struck me as russian. But that's not why I went there, I went in because I saw they were pouring the beer I've always enjoyed whenever in and around Rakovnik and it was as delicious as I'd hoped and a reasonable price at 25kc.

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  5. majk,

    That's a great tip, thanks a lot! I'll check that place out as soon as possible!

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