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Showing posts from December, 2009

Who is this guy?

I don't know who Alan Brewer is. Never heard of him, never read his opus. I assume he's someone who knows about beer, otherwise the Spanish magazine Bar&Beer wouldn't publish him. And most likely, he knows more than me, that's the least I expect from someone who's been writing on the subject for as long as he claims.

I don't know who Alan Brewer is. I've looked him up on the Internet, but wasn't able to find anyone beer related with that name. I sent emails to two of the most important bloggers from the other side of the Atlantic (Mr Brewer lives in Brooklyn) y they weren't able to give me any solid information. One of them said that he suspected the name was an pseudonym, A. Brewer (geddit?), and the other one said that the name rang a bell, perhaps someone who wrote some time in the past for a magazine.

I don't know who Alan Brewer is, but he has insulted me. Not only me, had that been the case, I wouldn't give a toss. He's someone I…

St Peter's 12 Apostles (III)

After going having gone through the oddballs and the modern classics that I had received from St. Peter's Brewery, all I had left were samples of the styles that, in the eyes of many, define English brewing: Mild, (Best) Bitter, (Old Style) Porter and (Cream) Stout (I had already tasted the IPA), plus the Winter Ale, which, since seasonal Ales have been brewed for ever, we can also say it's a "traditional" style of some sorts. 

I started with Mild. Not being English, the first time I heard the name of this style I though it was because those Ales were, well, mild (in flavour, ABV, etc.), when actually, it's because thus were called ales that were sold very young, almost without any maturing (if I remember my history well).
I was really looking forward to tasting a representative of the style. Ron Pattison once loosely compared it with tmavé výčepní, an unfortunately underrated Czech style I like quite a lot. I was curious to see how similar they were.

St Peter's…

Burp!

This have been very special holidays for me. The first as a dad, and the first in who knows how long that I've spent with my parents and my sister (and her BF), who came from Spain to be with us.

For Christmas Eve dinner we had the traditional fried carp with potato salad (that I had prepared a couple of days before) and then we went on to open the presents while stuffing our faces with the wonderful Christmas biscuits my wife had baked (a total of 10 different kinds).

The picture above shows a bit of the aftermath of the Christmas lunch, roasted duck with braised red cabbage and sauerkraut and bread knedlíky. Everything washed down with the outstanding Matuška Tmavé, it's mild roast and hint of sourness held their ground perfectly against the cabbages, while the rich dark chocolate and coffee danced a beautiful choreography with the bird and its juices. One of the best lunches I've had in my life.

I hope all of you've had at least half the great time we are still having …

I wasn't going to do this, but

I didn't feel like writing a wrap up of this year, but after reading Knut's (who chose me as one of the bloggers of the year!) and The Beer Nut, I liked the format, which actually was thought up by Mark Dredge, so I changed my mind and decided to give it a go. Here you have it (with some adjustments):

Best Czech beer, draught: U Medvídku 1466, specially when Laďa, its creator, taps me a couple straight from the lagering barrel. Honourable mentions: anything from Kout na Šumavě, Tambor 11° and Matuška Weizen.

Best Czech beer, bottled:Bakalář Polotmavý Výčepní, ever since I discovered it I can't have enough of it. Honourable mentions: Svijanský Rytíř and Primátor Weizenbier.

Best Imported beer, draught: Well, we aren't exactly spoilt for choice here, but still, Schlenkerla Märzen.

Best Imported beer, bottled: This was by far the most difficult choice, as this year I've tasted so many wonderful beers. After a lot of consideration the one that came on top was Haadnbryggeri…

St Peter's 12 Apostles (II)

Following my route through the samples the people of St Peter's Brewery sent me, it was time to start getting into the more or less classic stuff.

The three I had in line were Golden Ale, Suffolk Gold y Ruby Red.

Golden Ale is a pretty new style that, according to Martyn Cornell, came out as a kind of response to the rise of lager by the English Real Ale brewers. I had only tried one Golden Ale thus far, Oppigårds Bryggeri's, from Sweden, which I had found pretty pleasant.
St Peter's Golden Ale is similar to its Swedish counterpart in many aspects. It reminded me to a good světlý ležák in looks, aroma, mouth feel and, to a lesser extent, maltiness. Its most distinctive note is given by the hops, that provide a marked, but controlled bitterness that gets stronger in the finish, long and bitter. With 4,7%ABV and very low carbonation, it's extremely easy to drink. Very pleasant, it leaves you wanting another one (and a few more to follow).
Suffolk Gold isn't another Golde…

Out of Nowhere

Yesterday I got an e-mail that surprised me for two reasons: That someone bothered to send me an e-mail announcing an event, instead of waiting for me to find about it on the web, and the very nature of the event and its organisers.

They call themselves "Pivní archív restaurace U Balbínů", something like Archive Beer Restaurant (coming from "Archivní Víno", wines meant for long aging). I had no references about them, but whoever they are, what they seem to be doing looks really interesting.

This weekend (Dec. 19/20, from 10 to 5) they are organising a presentation of really special beers: Sam Adams Utopias, Bass King's Ale 1902, together with some Belgian Stuff and Vintage Beers of limited editions, among others.

The event will take place in Jungmanová 22, Prague 1 and the entrance is free (or at least the e-mail doesn't mention an admission price).

Because of family reasons I won't be able to attend, but I've already arranged an interview/visit once th…

St Peter's 12 Apostles

OK, it isn't biblically accurate, but it does the job for a silly pun.

The good people of St Peter's Brewery, through Claire, were really cool and sent me a box with 12 samples from their product line, a very varied selection indeed.
Since posting the tasting notes of 12 beers might be quite boring for you to read, and would sure be a lot of work for me to write, I have split them in three installments that will be published in the coming days.

Before getting down to it, I want to take a few lines to praise the presentation of these beers. Those oval shaped bottles are just lovely, so apparently simple, with so much identity. Better writers than me have already emphasised the importance of a good packaging for beers, specially of the "craft" sort, and they are right. Of course, nobody is going to buy something they don't like, no matter how prettily it's wrapped, but you have to know it first, and a nice bottle or label can make a big difference when it comes to…

Progress Report

Since a few (very few) of you have been great enough to send me a few virtual moneys to help me finance my book, I thought it would be appropriate to write the first progress report, so you can see that your money is at work and that I'm not spending all of my free time doing things like looking after my daughter.

I've already started wandering the streets of Prague gathering material for the book and I've come across many new places that look quite promising. I've already visited a few and have a couple of (I hope interesting) stories to share with you.

In a small, lost street in Letná there is this small, pleasant café/bar/restaurant that stocks Pilsner Urquell, Kozel and Kácov Kvasnicové (though I think is nefiltrované). I went there the other day to have a beer, I don't think I need to tell you which (if any of you thought of PU and Kozel, go away, read another blog).

When the waiter, a relaxed and rather affable bloke, brought my kvasnicové (I insist is nefiltrov…

Brave

From the first sip Pivovar Chotěboř made a great impression on me. Their Světlý Ležák is a perfect example of the style that made Czech beer famous around the world: solid malt base with a most subtle touch of caramel and the distinctive presence of Saaz hops, and the unfiltered version ranks among the best new stuff that has come out this year.

During the SPP Awards Party I had a brief chat with Mr. Záruba, head brewer at Chotěboř. He told me that his brewery, which opened earlier this year, it's not a brewpub, but a "micro-industrial" (as I like to call them) that combines the latest brewing technology with Czech lager tradition (triple decoction, open fermenters and enough lagering time). Currently their capacity is 10,000 hl/year, which can be expanded to 25,000 hl in the current facilities.
I took home two bottles from the party (světlý výčepní y tmavý ležák) and a branded glass to drink them from.
One evening, while I was getting in the mood to prepare dinner, I opene…

Tasty December News

Those who are in Prague during December, either permanently or on a visit, will have plenty of new, special beers to choose from.

Last week Zlý Časy tapped the first barrel and sold the first bottles of their own Christmas Special, a Weizenbock which, just like their previous seasonal specials, was brewed in Chýně (who I'm sure are already pulling pints of their own holiday brew) by Petr Buriánek. I've already tasted it and it's really good.

This week Pivovar U Medvídku will present to the world their 18° Balling dark lager, a very limited edition that will only be available on tap at the brewery.

Not far from there, Pivovarský Dům should already have on tap their Imperial Stout, which has been maturing since February or March.

And though I don't have any concrete information, I'm pretty sure that Pivovar U Bulovky, Pivovar Strahov and U Bansethů will have their respective ad-hoc beers ready to drink in these days.

If all that wasn't enough, Honza Kočka once more is…

Hypocrisy?

I was going to leave this post only for the Spanish speaking beer community, but since it wasn't very well received I thought I would share it with my English speaking readers as well, hoping some of you will have the same reaction

Andrés, from the Spanish beer blog Culturilla Cervecera wrote about his visit to Fortiverd SL (Sp), makers of the Bleder beers. There he tells us about the brewery and the chat he had with its owner, Salvador.

There was something in there that left a sour taste in my mouth. When Andrés asks Salvador why he's taking the risk brewing an Imperial Stout instead of a (should we call it Republican?) Stout Salvador says:"I haven't set up this company for the business, but to brew the beers I like. I'll be fine with earning enough to make a living out of it"However, a few lines later, we can read that the brewery has a lot of work thanks to making beers for some other brands, and that is about to increase the capacity.

It might be that I take…

BFSD

The other day my Spanish friend Delirium published a very interesting post (Sp) on the different processes used to make non-alcoholic beers.

Besides enlightening me on something I didn't know too well, the post made me realise how little we speak about this kind of beers. No surprise, really. After all, we are all pissheads who love to drink and talk about the "realy stuff". And also, there quite a few out there who refuse to consider these products as beers.

I think they are, but since I don't like having arguments over semantics I've decided to make up a name for them: Beer Flavoured Soft Drinks, BFSD's for friends.

Much of the animosity many people have towards BFSD's comes from comparing them with "real" beers, which is, in my opinion, a mistake. Nobody will compare Budvar with, say, Westvleteren (well, some people do, but they don't understand the first thing about beer), they are two different things, with a different purpose. The only th…

It's cold!

I really don't understand why so many people are so negative about autumn/winter. I love it! I like the rain (unless it's pissing down and I'm walking home from the bus) and I love cold weather. It's great, come on! At weekends, you can stay at home, watching the rain out the window, knowing that there won't be any work on the garden for a few months. Or you can go for a walk and find a nice, cozy, warm place to sit down and have something tasty while you unwind. Also, winter food kicks some serious summer food ass!

And nothing represents winter better than a bowl of hot, rich, home made soup. We love eating soup at weekends. They are relatively easy and cheap to make, you can improvise with what you have in the fridge or pantry, recipes are usually pretty flexible and you can make as much of it as you want and enjoy it the next day or two. It's true that they can take some time to get ready, specially if you have to prepare some stock from scratch, but since th…

Should we be worried?

A bit more than a month ago AB-InBev made official the sale of Staropramen, together with a bunch of other Eastern European breweries. As I mentioned here, the buyer is CVC Partners, a Private Equity Group of Belgian origins. According to what's been reported, the transaction won't be effective until next January and the new brewing group will be named StarBev.

No surprise, nothing new, not much to talk about. However, reading past the headlines I came across two bits of information that all by themselves don't say much, but when brought together and spiced with a pinch of paranoia might give some reasons to worry.

First bit: The purchase contract has a provision that stipulates that should CVC ever decide to sell any of these breweries AB-InBev retains the right of first offer. Nothing to worry about here. After all, these breweries haven't been sold because they were a bad business, but because the brewing giant was badly needing cash to cover some debts. It's lo…