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Showing posts from November, 2009

From far away

If my chances of visiting my native country and enjoy the local micro brewing boom are at the moment non existent, I would then need some quantum theorist to estimate those of visiting neighbouring Chile, where there also seems to be a micro brewing boom, or at least that is the impression I get from reading Catador's blog.

The magic of the Internet has practically vanished borders and that is how Leonardo, one of my Chilean readers, made it possible for me to get a small taste of what is happening in his country's beer scene. While we were having a very good time, with very good beers at Pivovarský Dům, he gave me the five samples he'd lugged all the way from the Southern Hemisphere, four from Szot and one from Volcanes del Sur.

I decided to start with the bunch from Szot. Seen from here, Szot (which I like to pronounce the Polish way, "Shot") is a pretty successful microbrewery with a rather good reputation among local beer fans. The four samples I got were Pale …

Announcement

Following the steps of better writers than me I've decided to publish a book. It's still in the project stage and it won't be a historical, theoretical or technical essay about beer. For that, I don't have the chops yet. It's something a lot more mundane, but at the same time, a lot more useful to the layman: a Pub, etc. Guide of Prague.

Similar stuff has been already published, so I'm not going to say I'm original or an innovator. The guide I'm putting together, however, has a couple of advantages over others: I live in Prague, so it will be more easily updated, and its scope is far more ambitious than any other, I'm planning to cover the whole of the Czech capital and some of it's outskirts, and try to include at least one nice place to have good beer in every one of its boroughs. Oh! And it will also be published in Spanish.

Some of the material has already been published in this blog, some is already compiled in a notebook or in  my always r…

The Debate

It all started with this post in Ron's blog, followed by one from Alan, both saying how tired they were of "innovative beers". Stephen Beaumont responded by posting his defense of innovation. Stan entered the discussion (which was raging in the comment sections) asking if there really was any innovation to begin with, to which Stephen that yes, there is, though not nearly as much as many believe, and that there are also different kinds, and I couldn't agree more.

I don't really think anyone is against innovation or the new, not even Ron in his fiery rant. The problem, in my opinion, is another: those who worship innovation.

Several times I've read people praising how dynamic the American craft beer scene is thanks to all those great innovators (not so much, according to those on the know) compared to the European, a prisoner of those pesky traditions, which have not allowed it to develop anything new in who knows how many decades.

This crowd (many of whom don…

Flagship

A few months ago I spoke in some detail about K Brewery Trade, for those of you who don't remember and/or can't be arsed with reading this post, I'll make a summary. This Czech company came pretty much out of nowhere and bought several regional breweries. Today they own seven and have quite important stakes in at least two more.

Even though their slogan is "Navrát k tradici" (Back to tradition), many are those who don't trust the real intentions of these people. Some believe they are a proxy of Heineken, which, as you might remember, was neither denied, nor confirmed by the Czech subsidiary of the Dutch concern.

I've got serious doubts that the rumor is true. I really don't see what interest Heineken could have in this bunch of regional breweries, most of which (unfortunately) aren't even very valuable as brands.

Needless to say, KBT (as they are known in the street), has been categorically denying all that to anyone who asks. Still, even if we take …

20 years is nothing

20 years ago today I was a couple of weeks from finishing High School. Many things were going around in my mind. A big sense of accomplishment from having successfully finished such an important stage in my life; some nervousness from what the future had in stock for me and from knowing that things would never be so easy again and also a bit of sadness from knowing deep down that the twists and turns of life would make me loose touch with many of the people I had shared so many years of my life with.

1989 was also a very hectic year from Argentina. Presidential elections, economic meltdown and violent social unrest. Despite all this, we got and followed the news of the events unfolding in Eastern Europe: Hungary opening its border with Austria, the fall of the Berlin Wall and the Velvet Revolution in Czechoslovakia.

20 years ago today the Velvet Revolution started. It was a series of peaceful protests that, though not the first of their kind, in a few days managed to bring down the Comm…

A Critic to the Critics

Even though we hardly dine out anymore, I still enjoy reading Prague restaurant reviews. I specially like those where the author has a good grasp of the concept of value for money, even if they aren't paying from their own pockets, and where they tell us about their dining experience in a straightforward, fun to read language.

Unfortunately, I must say I've lost my patience with the whole lot of them. The reason, their ignorance and total lack of interest in beer.

The Czech Republic is home to some of the finest lagers in the world. "Pivo" is a source of national pride and plays an important part in Czech popular and culinary cultures. How is it then that restaurant reviewers don't complain when a restaurant offers bad beer?

No, I'm not just grumpy because it's Monday morning (well, a bit, yes). Many times I've read how reviewers complain, and fairly so, about the authenticity or freshness of some ingredients, the way a dish is prepared or presented, the…

And the winners are...

Just like I promised yesterday, here you have the list of winners of this year's Sdružení přátel piva awards, plus some comments.


Desítka roku

1. Podskalák, světlé výčepní pivo (Pivovar Rohozec)
2. Moravské Sklepní (Pivovar Černá Hora)
3. Březňák, světlé výčepní (Pivovar Velké Březno)

I must confess that I don't remember ever drinking this beer (which I hope to correct soon). The other two, however, are well placed, yes.

Jedenáctka roku

1. Otakar 11% (Pivovar Polička)
2. Svijanský Máz (Pivovar Svijany)
3. Klášter 11% (Pivovar Klášter)

Otakar is a very good, and not known enough, beer. Máz is my least favourite from the Svijany lot and I would put it well behind Klášter's (which dropped from the first spot for the first time in I don't know how many years).

Dvanáctka roku

1. Svijanský Rytíř (Pivovar Svijany)
2. Březňák, světlý ležák (Pivovar Velké Březno)
3. Bernard, sváteční ležák (Rodinný pivovar Bernard)

This first prize is going to be discussed a lot among Czech beer geeks, some w…

It's good to be me (2009 edition)

Just like last year, and the year before, the good people of Sdružení Přátel Piva were kind enough to invite me to their annual award ceremony, which, to a certain extent, is actually an excuse to get together for a few beers with friends, colleagues, etc.

This year's edition took place at Pivovar Strahov. It seems thasince there was no need to travel anywhere, more people that usual attended. I arrived at 11 and the downstairs room was already packed.
It wasn't long before a glass of beer almost magically materialised in my hand (Budvar Dark, fine, but way too cold for my taste). It was a rather chilly day, but I was thirsty after the walk from Dejvická. I found Evan Rail and while we exchanged stories about our family lives and greeted a few known faces, the beginning of the award ceremony proper was announced. With a new beer in hand (Chotěboř světlý ležák, really good) I followed the crowd to the room upstairs, which was also wall-to-wall full.
The ceremony was fun and didn&#…

Making (at least a bit) of sense of it

Some time ago I wrote a post strongly critisising the Protected Geographical Denomination "České Pivo" (Czech Beer). One of the conditions a beer has to meet in order to be eligible for the DGP is that it must be brewed with a decoction mashing. As if Czech brewing tradition started in 1842, I said then.

Well, I didn't know what I know now.

In the comments of one of the post in the Argentinean beer blog Logia Cervecera I ranted that a proper lager should be brewed using a decoction mashing.

Someone answered saying that that is not true anymore and that most German breweries have stopped using decoction. According to him, thanks to the highly modified malts used today, the process is no longer necessary for soft waters to be able to extract enough sugars from the grain, and that a multi-rest infusion mash (don't know if that's the exact term, but you know what I mean) does the job just fine. He also added that the breweries from Northern Germany never used decoction …

A Cholesterol Bomb

Warning: If any of you out there has cholesterol problems, you'd better not read the following recipe. If any of you out there is voluntarily on a diet, leave it! It's not good for you. Get you ass off that chair and do some exercise instead.

Some of the names of classical Czech dishes are rather curious. "Moravský Vrabec", for example. The translation is "Moravian Sparrows", but it's actually made with roasted cubes of marinated pork. It's a favourite pub grub, specially at lunch time.

The other day I thought I would make my version of the recipe. It's ideal for an ugly weekend day, when we have more than enough time, but don't feel like doing much. It doesn't need much work, but it requires quite a bit of time.

Another advantage is that this is a very versatile recipe. Here it's usually served with knedlíky and stewed cabbage, but there's no problem to serve it with potatoes in any form, veggies, rice or salad.

Ingredients: (serves…

Changed my mind

Do you remember that I told you I was going to let MB Porter årgång 2008 age a bit? Of course you don't! Well, I did say it, you can read it here, at the bottom of the page. Doesn't matter, I changed my mind, anyway.

As I've already mentioned, I really fancy dark beers this season. The other day in the afternoon I went to the cellar to pick something dark to drink and there she was, MB Porter, calling me, tempting me. I couldn't resist. I'm not the patient kind of guy, I don't think I'll ever be able to let a bottle gather dust in my cellar for a year or so.
MB Porter årgång 2008 pours very dark amber, clear against the light, topped by a spongy beige head. The bouquet has prunes, molasses, chocolate and a little bit of tobacco. The palate is treated with notes of chocolate, roast, some licorice, everything wrapped in an unctuous mouthfeel that is really nice to roll around your mouth for a bit. The finish is dry with a background of dry fruit, long and very …