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Showing posts from March, 2009

Curious

It is already old news, but not less good because of that. A European Union court has rejected AB-InBev appeal to use Budweiser as a registered trademark in the EU, backing the clain of Czech Budějovický Budvar.

But the thing that caught my attention the most in the news report was something that was mentioned in the Spanish press, where, quoting the court's ruling, it says that AB-InBev will not be able to use the Budweiser brand for the following products: Beers, ales, porters and alcoholic and non-alcoholic malt drinks.

It is well known that in the past in England there was a clear diffentiation between beer, ale and porter, but I was conviced that such thing didn't exist anymore and that now everything is called "beer".

Might I be wrong, or is that only a sample of the anal retentive vocabulary employed by many lawyers?

Na Zdraví!

Choose your preferred Prague hotels and get free transport.

The moment of truth

The moment I feared the most finally arrived, that one I did not want to face, tasting my own beer for the first time.

My first attempt at homebrewing did not end up well. The opinion of those experienced brewers that I spoke to or left comments here was that I had killed the yeasts with a thermal shock. I had forgotten to take them out of the fridge and I simply tossed them into the tepid wort.

But I didn't let that discourage me and two weeks later I had another go. The recipe changed a little, 500g of smoked malt (generously donated by Velký Al), 400g of Munich, 240g of caramel and 160g of wheat malt for a 5l mashing. Unlike the previous time, now I went for a single rest infusion, 75 minutes at 65°C, simply because I looked like a lot less work than the one I had done before. I did the boiling a bit longer, 75 minutes, too. The only thing I didn't change was the hopping, 30g with the same schedule as the previous time. The resulting wort had an OG of 1036 and marked 9° (Ball…

Marketing bollocks or a beer culture oportunity?

Some weeks ago I found this news item (sorry, in Spanish, though you can use Google Translate to get an idea) in the electronic edition of a Colombian newspaper. It speaks about training courses for restaurants with beer as the sole topic. According to the article, attendants will learn about beer tasting and food pairings, cooking and cocktails with beer, how to sell beer, and topics such as beers of the world and brewing processes.

I found it interesting so I thought I would share it with the Facebook that seeks to promote beer culture in Colombia.

The response I got what not what I had expected. Not only there wasn't any enthusiasm for the news, but one of the forum members even said that this specializations were something useless and a waste of time.

Such reaction is greatly because one of the organisers is Bavaria, the, by far, biggest brewer in Colombia (in fact, one of the biggest in the world), now propery of SAB-Miller.

The apprehension is understandable. I've never drun…

Honoured

When I started blogging about two years ago, I never thought that there would be people that would take me seriously. Yet, there are.

A few days ago I received an e-mail from Honza Kočka inviting me to a tasting of rare beers. The tasting was more than just a bunch of mates getting together to drink new beers, it was part of Honza's new project, putting together a web portar inspired in RateBeer and Beer Advocate, but in Czech. The goal of this, and other future tastings, was to compile a beer data base that would work as a reference point for the future users of the portal.

Being called to share a table with above mentioned Honza Kočka, plus Honza Šuran and Evan Rail, three of the people that know the most about beer in the Czech Republic, together with two more beer enthusiast, made me feel really honoured. And more so because my judgement would be used for something else than a discussion about the merits of this or that beer. For this first session we would be tasting twelve sam…

What beer for a really special occasion?

I still find it hard to believe, but in about three months I am going to be a dad for the first time. It is going to be a girl and it is going to be the most important thing that will happen in my life, bar none. Of everything I've lived so far, I don't think there is anything that can compare.

Of course, such event must be celebrated properly, and being the beer geek that I am, I want to do it with a special brew. For that, i will need your help.

I've recently started homebrewing and I would like to brew something special for my daughter's birth. I'm not interested in copying the recipe of a well known style, I wanto something original, inspired by a baby girl that will be born almost in summer. Got any ideas? You can leave your recipes either in the comments section or at this email address. The author of the chosen recipe (that will be chosen also from those sent by the readers of the Spanish version) will get a bottle, provided the beer is at least drinkable....

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From the motherland

I'm not one of those Argentine expats that feel nostalgia for the old country. I don't shed tears whenever I listen to a tango, and there is nothing in this world that would make me drink Quilmes Cristal. It's not that I'm ashamed of my nationality, I actually don't believe a nationality is anything to be proud or ashamed of, it's not an acheivement. I don't reject it either, no matter how well assimilated I can be to my Czech life, I am and will always be Argentinean.

I didn't leave because of financial, social or political reasons, I left Argentina because I simply hated living in Buenos Aires. I wouldn't have had any problem with moving somewhere else within the country (Mendoza comes to mind), but it was Prague that gave me the opportunity first and I don't regret having taken it in the very least.

One of the things I do regret is missing out on the craft beer revolution that slowly seems to be sweeping the whole country. Before I left the ter…

More good news

It seems that Pivovarský Dvůr Chýně is not the only craft brewer that wants to have a permanent presence in Prague. There are, at least, two more places that have adopted a craft brewery on a permanent basis, though, unlike Hotel Victor, they do it to supplement their already existing offer of very well known faces. The other day, I visited both.

I used to work in Anděl, Smíchov, but for reasons I can't specify I never went to U Buldoka. I must have walked past the door hundreds of times, yet there was nothing that made me walk in.

What better excuse to fix that than the beers from Zvíkov.

I arrived when lunch time was finishing. The room was almost packed and I was lucky to find an empty table. I'd already eaten, so I only ordered a beer. They were tapping Zvíkov's 13° tmavé (they rotate, Velký Al had been there a few days before and he had Zlatá Labuť 11°).

The beer arrived fast and I started to soak up the atmosphere. I must say that from the beginning I felt very comfortab…

Changes, and all for the better

Four favourites of Prague's beer scene have very welcome news.

Pivovar Bašta has extended its opening hours. From Monday to Friday they are open from 11 and they offer a very solid lunch menu to go with that. At weekends they still open at 3PM.

Pivovar U Bulovky no is open also on Sundays. No lunch menu here, but their regular one is already very solid and quite inexpensive.

U Sadu has caught the rotating tap "trend" and now, besides Gambrinus, Pilsner Urquell, Master 13°, Master 18°, Primátor Weizenbier and Svijanský Maz, they offer beers from regional breweries that will change every week. So far they seem to be only tapping the more standard stuff from each brewery. Let's hope they prove popular with the patrons and that soon more interesting stuff will show up.

From March 21st, Pivovarský Klub will be 100% non smoking. Until now, smoking was allowed in the cellar. Not anymore. Around a year and a half ago the same policy was applied at Pivovarský Dům, without busines…

Delight

The Scottish brewer BrewDog has in its still short history acheived an important reputation. Partly thanks to their very intelligent marketing, which unlike many other breweries, is supported by quality products.

My first experience with their beers was with Punk IPA, which I liked, but didn't blow my mind as the label so seemed to promise. In short words, good beer, should shut up a bit.

Not counting the prototypes, because they were that, prototypes, the other BrewDog beers I had afterwards were good, very good, culminating in the brilliant Paradox Smokehead.

I was already thinking that after Paradox, BrewDog would not be able to top themselves. Then I opened a bottle of BrewDog Tokio.

I had bought it at the Vanoční Pivní Festival last December. It was the last of the beers I had brought home from the event. I wasn't actually thinking of drinking it the day I did. It was Monday evening, my wife was out. I was drinking Schneider Weisse (fine, but I like Primátor Weizenbier better…

The dark side of paradise

Ah! It is so nice to live in Prague! Whenever I fancy a beer all I have to do is find a good hospoda and I know I will find a good quality pint, tapped as it should be, and at the right temperature. If that wasn't enough, it will also be dirt cheap, about 30CZK in average, if not less.
It's paradise! Or not?

Being able to drink beers of a very high quality standard at such low prices is a blessing, no doubt, and it's something most foreign visitors deservedly rave about, but it has its dark side.

Everyone expects beer to be cheap. This has put serious obstacles to the industry. High costs prevent microbreweries from bottling their beers, and also put them, and the industrial breweries,  in a stituation where that makes it difficult to risks and come out with limited editions, bottled conditioned beers or beers to be aged. The low price of the very good domestic beers is also an obstacle for importers, at least for those who would like to bring beers other than the macroindust…

Failed attempt

Last weekend I was finally able to try to brew my first beer. The result, unfortunately, was not good. The positivething is that I know what I did wrong, or at least so I believe.

But I still wanted to share with you the experience that, though not successful, was still interesting and quite some fun.

I had read quite a bit, consulted with friends from several countries who gave me many useful tips. I had planned everything carefully and had all the ingredients ready, which had been donated by friends (thanks Honza and Laďa). The equipment was a bit improvised, but since I was only going to brew 5l, I didn't think necessary to buy anything too big.
I like cooking very much, but I'm not the kind of person that follows recipes. Most of what I cook are my own recipes, many of them improvised pretty much on the spot. The few times I do go to a recipe book I do it mostly to get an idea of cooking times and methods, adapting the ingredients to what I have at hand or I find during the s…

A bit boring

To be honest, it's getting a bit hard to write my traditional "Beer of the Month" entry, which more than an award is a sort of recap of the most interesting Czech beers I tasted during the month.

It can be that I've become more demanding, or just that there isn't much more left for me to discover out there (which I seriously doubt). Whatever it is, each month the stuff that catches my attention seem to be fewer and fewer, and sometimes one tends to ignore the good ol' ones, regardless of how good they are. It can also be that I've become a bit saturated with all this lager, regardless of how good they are (something which I'll deal with soon).

So February pased by without much news. One of the few beers that stood out was Kocour's Samurai IPA (why it is called like that, I don't know, and forgot to ask). Strawish colour, with an interesting mix of pinapple and marihuana in the nose and tropical fruit and spice in the mouth, finishing bitter dry,…