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Showing posts from April, 2009

A great idea! Yeah, right...

It's already old news, but when it was announced it was something that flew below my radar, never managing to fully catch my attention. It wasn't until it was mentioned in an e-mail I received the other day that I started to think about it, and then seek some information on the matter.

Last Autumn the European Commision authorised the Czech Republic the use of the Protected Geographical Indication "České Pivo" (Czech Beer). Which was the successful culmination of several years of work by the Czech Ministry of Agriculture (or so they claim).
As of that day, only beers brewed within the borders of the Czech Republic could be denominated as "Czech Beers". That means that, say, an Estonian brewery will not be able to come out with a product called "Tšehhi õlu". We can rest assured of that.

That's good news, isn't it? After all, every beer brewed in my adopted country will be automatically eligible to receive the "České Pivo" label. Ri…

At least their wines are good

After the debacle that was Super Bock Stout (one of the best examples of the style called "Marketing Stout"), I wasn't looking forward much to the rest of the beers that Nuno brought me from his native Portugal. But beer blogging can't be all about delectable and rare Danish craft beers, and they were taking way too much space in my cellar.

Saying that my expectations were very low wouldn't be the whole truth. I was ready for the worst, and I must say I wasn't dissapointed.

Super Bock Express (4.9%ABV). My tasting notes consist of only one word: "Nasty". Isn't it nice sometimes to be able to drink a beer so easy to describe?. Express to the drain it went.
Cerveja Sagres (5.0%ABV). My notes say "A bit better (should say "a bit less awful"), also metallic taste (now you have some more information about Express)". As the previous one, to the drain.
Sagres Bohemia Reserva 1835. A pretentious one. "The supreme realisation of our …

Again and better

It was the first beer I drank at Pivovarský Klub, almost four years ago now. It appeared sporadically after that, until last year it started to be brewed on a more or less regular basis. Each of the last few batches has been better than the previous ones.

Křižiková 17° is back and better than ever. Delicate fruit notes backed by a touch of toffee that gives the beer an interesting character, all followed by a bitterness that grows as the sip is kept in the mouth. Dangerously easy to drink (ask those two ladies that were yesterday in Karlín sitting at the table near the bar).

Not to be missed, go now, don't wait because it might get too late.

Pivovarský Klub
Křižiková 17°, Praga 8
+420 222 315 777

Superflous explanation

It might not interest anyone, but I felt I would share with you my "method" when tasting a new beer. To explain you how I do it and why.

Before opening the bottle or ordering the beer I try to forget everything I might have heard or read about it, I also try to ignore as much as possible what the label says (easier with a beer on tap). The only information that at the moment is useful for me is the ABV or the gravity. This isn't easy to do, almost impossible I would say, but the aim is to be able to focus on the most important thing, what I will have in the glass.

At home, I pour the beer carefully, in a clean grass and try to do it at the proper temperature. Once served, I make a couple of photos and start taking notes.

Usually the first sip is rather big. I close my eyes and keep the beer in my mouth for some time trying to "listen" to it. I want to understand what the beer wants to tell me. Only then I might start reading the label, looking for the list of ingr…

Update on Pivní Festival Praha 2009

The other day, when I spoke about the 2009 edition of Pivní Festival Praha I was left qith a few questions regarding the line up of breweries. They've been answered very satisfactorily.

This year there will be many more breweries. All of them will be distributed in 7 tents, each with their own gastronomic offer. If you read or can manage to understand some Czech, you can see the menus in this page.
The most interesting news, however, is the brewery list. Almost all of those who were last year are coming back for this edition. The new ones are:

- Bernard
- Primátor (my prayers have been answered)
- Regent
- Rakovník
- Nymburk
- Kout (what else can you ask)
- Klášter
- Lobkowicz
- Herold
and 12 micros, among which are Chýně, Kocour, Zvíkov, Purkmistr, Žamberk and Střibro.

It's still not known which beers each brewery will present, still, it will be really hard to choose.

When above I said "Almost all" I was of course meaning that there will be one absentee, and what an absentee! Piv…

A parable

Several times I've been asked what was the best beer that I've ever had. I always answer with the following parable:

In September 2004 we wento for holidays to Crete, where we spent two wonderful weeks. One of the trips we made was to the Samaria Gorge, in the Sout West of the island. The only thing that can be done there is a 16km hike that starts at 1700m above sea level and ends pretty much by the sea, all on quite rough terrain and surrounded by impressive natural beauty. It was a great day.
The author looking cool in Samaria
Right at the exit of the national park there is a kiosk selling snacks and drinks, beer among them. After having walked so much you can imagine that I couldn't resist having a draught beer. It wasn't that I was dying of thirst, in the park there are spring water fountains a couple of hundred meters from each other, and we had also brought drink and food with us, still, I fancied that a cold beer would do me just fine.

I'm not sure which beer i…

New discoveries

I really like Pardubický Porter, it's one of the best strong Czech lagers and, for those who pay more attention to styles than me, a very good example of the Baltic Porter style. It's a pity that this beer is so hard to find here in Prague.

No! It's not!

Apart from Pivovarský Klub and Zlý Časy there are two other places that I've discovered almost at the same time that offer it on a permanent basis.

Both are cafés, both are small, both are in Prague 2, both metres from streets with a lot of traffic of all sorts, both near the centre and yet, they couldn't be any more different.

Cafe 89 has all the looks of a modernish Prague neighbourhood café. The service is informal and unpretentious. The music is your typical McRadio, which for me takes away much of the atmosphere. The furnishings are the usual out of a catalogue for bars and restaurants, not ugly, just adecuate and comfortable enough. The nicest thing of the place is its vaulted walls and ceiling with exposed brick…

Advertising

I'm sure you've noticed the banner above, and perhaps the one at the bottom as well. It is the realisation of a project that "lagered" for over a year. I meant to launch it last year, but moving to the new house sapped all of my energies and when I was finally able to put myself back together it was already too late in the year to begin.

Bohemian Beer Tours is about the following: One day tours to visit both a regional and a craft brewery, but the ones not so well known by foreign visitors, or even by Czechs.
The tours include transportation, tour of both breweries, lunch at one of them and afternoon drink at the other, both, of course, with beer. It's almost "All Inclusive". And on top of that, they will have a top of the range guide, Pivní Filosof himself. :)

They aren't cheap, though, 2500CZK per person, but they will be only in small groups, max. 10 people. I prefer quality over quantity and I want the experience to be as personalised as possible.

I…

Analysing the news

Evan Rail reported in his blog yesterday that Heineken has started talks with AB-InBev to buy Staropramen.

If that turns out to more than just a rumor, then it will be the biggest news in the last few years in the Czech beer market. And since I am a beer philospher, it has given me quite a bit to think about.

If the sell takes place the plans of the Dutch brewer to become a leader in the Czech market will be realised, and from one day to the other they would have a market share of more than 30%. On top of that, they will ad to their already big portfolio the Staropramen brand, which has a terrible (and well deserved) reputation among Czech consumers (and not only among those with a more demanding palate) but it is very well positioned in markets like the British.

But to me, the most interesting thing is how this news affects the future privatisation of Budvar.

Their new position in the market will leave Heineken pretty much out of the picture. If they wanted to acquire the state brewery, …

Someone who should know better

Diggin once more in the depths of my archives I found a PDF of an Argentine e-magazine that I had downloaded some months ago. Lounges is a fashion & lifestyle mag, not the kind I like actually, and I wouldn't have bothered to download it if it hand't been for the topic of their special dedicated to beer (pdf in Spanish).

As a whole it is something pretty well done, perhaps the best I've seen in the Spanish speaking media. The magazine has a total of 129 pages full of articles and interviews of all kinds, some of them very interesting, specially for those who would like to know a bit more about beer.

One of the interviews caught my attention, the one made to Fernanda Orellano, Academic Director of Escuela Argentina de Sommeliers. Unfortunately, Ms Orellano managed to greatly dissapoint me already in her second question. There she misses the point really, really bad. Quoting from the Spanish original:As consumers, how can we know if a beer is good?.
Orellano: "What I t…

Something different

People that suffer from celiac decease are those who aren't tolerant to gluten. What does that have to do with beer, some of you might be asking. It's that gluten can be found in several cereals: barley, wheat, oats and rye, all used to a more or less extent in beer making, specially barley.

Now you start seeing the relationship with this blog. Almost all Czech beers are brewed with 100% barley malt, there are also those brewed with wheat, oats and rye, meaning that if someone suffering from this ailment fancies a pint they are in trouble.

So far I had seen only one gluten free beer. It showed up briefly at Pivovarský Klub, it had been brewed by Pivovar Zabřeh, near Otrava, and called itself Pohankové Pivo (buckwheat beer). It wasn't well received. It was a very cloudy beer, hay coloured and with a taste that was too sour for the averaga Czech. It hasn't been seen again, and I don't know if it's still brewed.

But there are some gluten free beers in Germany, and on…