29 Apr 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. Right?

Right?

Wrong.

As with every other PGI there are conditions. In this case, brewing methods must be the "traditional" ones. To be "České Pivo" a Czech beer it will have to be brewed using decoction mashing, double fermentation (a primary one, and the secondary one at low temperatures), etc. That means that if someone wants to recreate an old Czech recipe: top fermented, infusion mashed, etc., as it was done pretty much until the 19th century, the product will not receive the "České Pivo" denomination because it won't be traditional enough. It seems that the people that prepared the application believe that nobody brewed beer here before 1842.

There are also conditions regarding ingredients (we aren't Reinheitsgeboting here, I hope). To get the PGD label the beer must be brewed with a certain minimum of Czech hops and malts. Why a minimum? Why not 100%? How much are those minimums? And what is the point of such a half assed condition?

But things start getting close to the realm of idiocy with the ABV limits. Only beers that have between 3.8 and 6% ABV can be denomiated as Czech Beers (it is curious that this speaks in ABV when, traditionally, Czech beers speak in Balling degrees). Today there aren't many respectable beers with less than 3.8% ABV, but in the past they were very popular, of good quality and the ones usually drunk at home before bottles became widely available, something like the English "Table Beers". Yet the worst of this is that the upper limit automatically leaves out pretty much everything that is brewed at higher than 14° Balling, among wich are some of the most interesting and appreciated beers in this country, for instance Vyškov Jubiler, Primátor 16%, Jihlavský Grand, Master 18% and Pardubický Porter (brewed since 1891), in fact, the whole traditional Porter category (dark beers brewed at at least 18° Balling) is disqualified.

So far there hasn't been too much interest by the breweries. SAB-Miller has said that they won't request the label for their Pilsner Urquell, I don't think they need it, but the actual reason seems to be that having the label could put the brand into a marketing conundrum. PU is also brewed in Russia and Poland. Wait a second! Weren't the Russian and Polish Pilsner Urquell supposed to be only to satisfy the demand of those respective markets? They will request the label for Gambrinus, though (of course, brewing at 13° Balling and then diluting the result in order to sell it as two different beers is something very traditional indeed).

Budějovický Budvar has said that since they already have their own PDG, they are naturally not intersted in the "České Pivo" as they consider it redundant.

If neither of the best known Czech beers in the world will carry the "České Pivo" label, why is it good for then? Oh! Yeah! So Holba, one of the worst beers in this country, can proudly claim that they are a true "Czech Beer". The PGI label for a fourth rate beer, brewed using glucose syrup (what more traditional than that?) is all fine and dandy, but for a really fine brew of 7.5%ABV? Oh, no! We can't allow that to happen.

I would like to know how much of the public funds was spent lobbying the European Commission, and how much more will be used for future advertising and PR campaigns in order to promote this kind of stupidity.
Right now I am going down to my "cellar" and will put a Jubiler in the fridge. "České Pivo" it might not be, but it certainly is a bloody good Czech beer.

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27 Apr 2009

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 brew masters", says the label on the back. Hmmm! Either they stop with the bollocks or they start looking for new brew masters, because if this beer is the best they can brew, I can't imagine what can come out when they aren't putting too much of an effort (well, yes, I can imagine, and actually tasted it a bit before). "Irresistible taste", says the label on the frent. The drain didn't resist, so it must be partly true.
Cerveja Super Bock - Sabor Auténtico. Another wonder of tasting notes succinctness: Nastier. Nice head. I'd love to know what they mean with "Authentic Taste".
I had to take a few days off to forget the awful taste of these beers. I still had two, both Super Bock "de Abadía" (Abbey).

There aren't that many "Abbey Beers" that are actually brewed by monks at a monastery. However, most abbey beers have at least some sort of historical link to a religious order or building. My knowledge of the history of the Catholic Church in Portugal is patchy at best, but I think it is safe to assume that there has never been a religious order called "The Super Bock Brothers" nor a monastery or church dedicated to "St. Super Bock" (though maybe the Vatican could consider something like this as a marketing strategy). Therefore, I think you'll agree with me if I say that Super Bock "Abbey" does not have any sacred origins.

But as I always say, the important thing is what's in the glass, the rest si more or less superfluous.

Abadía Super Bock (6.4%ABV): Amber, generous head. Caramel, burnt sugar, metal (I found metallic notes in all these beers, maybe tin foil is their secret ingredient). Caramel, some fruit, dry finish with too much sugar (surprise, no metal)
Super Bock Abadía Gold (6.8%ABV). Golden. Tired fruit and caramel. Fruit in syrup, burnt caramel, sugar and (guess what?) metal.
These two, which claim to have "Craft Recipe" (meaning not brewed with "other malted and unmalted cereals") were the only ones I was able to finish. I hate to throw beer away, no matter how awful it might be, but these portuguese ones left me no choice. It was either them or my sanity.

I wonder if they are the best Portugal can offer beerwise. I'm sure there are better ones, but if I ever go to Portugal, I think I'll stick with the wine.

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23 Apr 2009

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

20 Apr 2009

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 ingredients and any other bit of info that the brewer saw fit to include. Unless I can't understand the language on the label, I hardly ever look for information about the beer on the internet.

As I empty the glass and take notes, I try to imagine moments for the beer, what sort of foods I could pair it with, etc. (that is, of course, if I like the beer). If my wife is around, I always give her to taste and pay attention to what she has to say, this helps to see things from another perspective.

Never ever, nor before, nor during, nor after I look the beer up in RateBeer or BeerAdvocate, or any other similar web site. I think it is an utter waste of time. I will not like the beer more or less if my opinion about it agrees or not with that of people I don't know and likely will never know. And needless to say, I don't decide whether I'm going to taste a new beer based on the ratings of those sites, that, to me, is something bordering the stupid.

I do like discussing the beer with friends, people I know, readers of my blog or fellow bloggers. It is interesting to compare impressions with other people, but my opinion about the beer will always remain, at least then. It can change with time, though, beers change and so do tastes; a beer that I found wonderful me the first time, might not be so later, and viceversa.

But this is not dogma, and many times I drink a new beer without paying too much attention to what I'm drinking, just for the sake of drinking it.

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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! Pivovary Staropramen. I'm sure they won't be missed. I wonder if their absence is due to the organisers not wanting to offer something that nobody will drink, or the brewery refusing to sell to save themselves the embarrasement.

See you in Letňany (that, unfortunately, hasn't changed)

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17 Apr 2009

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 it was, maybe the German Holsten or the Greek Mythos, it doesn't matter. What I do remember is that it was served the Greek way, bitterly cold and in a tankard that was taken out of a freezer. Whichever it was, I don't think it's a beer I would very happy to drink under other circumstances, but at that moment and place each cell in my tired body enjoyed it ecstatically. Never had a beer tasted so good.

Until the other day.

Spring has started in full swing. Everything is blooming and sprouting, temperatures have become very pleasant, the sun seems to be shining more than ever and the girls have finally left their coats at home. It must be my favourite season in Prague. But this also means that forced labour in the garden must start. I hate physical work, always have, always will. But like many other unpleasant things in life, there is no point in complaining, you just have to accept it.

And so it was that after a whole day of hard work, when the sun was already checking out until the following morning, I went to the fridge to fetch a very deserved beer that I would drink on the terrace. I had a Svijany chilling since the morning, but it was one of the last two bottles of Porteňa what ended up in my hand.
That first sip was magic, it made me feel so good. As I emptied the glass my muscles started to loosen up and the pain slowly went away (only to come back later). And that way, very slowly, that bottle of Porteňa became the best beer I've had in my life.

The point is that many times the quality of a beer greatly depends on the circumstances and the moment. What made the above mentioned beers so great was that feeling of reward, with Porteňa, of course, having the added value of being my beer.

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16 Apr 2009

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 bricks (though, I must add that the paintings hanging from the walls were pretty ugly).

I picked a table by the door, took the menu and got a bit afraid when I didn't see Pardubický Porter on it. I still ordered it, after all I had seen its sign outside. At first the waitress didn't know what I was talking about, might be because sometimes my Czech is not as good as many believe, or that they don't serve the beer all that often. Anyway, the beer was brought. While I drank it I couldn't fail to notice how everybody, staff and patrons, seemed to know each other for a long time. This made me feel a bit ouf of place, to be honest. I don't see it as a shortcoming of either place or service, it's just one of the reasons the regulars choose this café and a new comer will to accept that or go somewhere else.
After finishing my beer and paying the 32CZK owed for it, I left and started wondering how could I define Cafe 89 in just a few words. After a couple of blocks, I realised that it was the kind of place I would welcome if I had it around the corner, but that otherwise I wouldn't bother to visit. In fact, if it hadn't been for the Pardubický Porter sign, I wouldn't have given it a second look. Cafés like this one there are many in Prague.

The other place, though, is a true gem. As the previous one, I found it by chance and I also noticed it thanks to the Pardubický Porter sign by the door.

Al Cafetero must be pretty much the same size as Cafe 89, but with a better layout. Instead of being long and narrow it is wide and the whole room is by a huge window that lets a lot of light in. It also has a lot more atmosphere. No McRadio, lounge Jazz is the sound track here and much of the furnishing consists in sofas and armchairs (I love sofas and armchairs in cafés)
I was lucky when I visited it, one of the sofas by the window was free. I took off my jacket and a lady offered to take it to the hanger, something I had only seen at very posh restaurants here in Prague. Pardubický Porter was here on the menu (there was also a gift pack displayed on the bar) together with Žatec Xantho, both in 33cl bottles, both at 39CZK. I ordered a Porter, which was brought with and ad-hoc glass, just like at Cafe 89.
Sitting in that comforatble sofa and sipping my beer I saw a tray with medovník pass before my eyes and couldn't resist ordering a slice. It must have been one of the best medovník I've ever eaten, with plenty of nuts and the right sweetness. If my Porter had been at room temperature, I think it would a been a very good pairing for the cake.
45 minutes later, when I finished reading what I was reading, I paid and went to meet Evan Rail for a luxury lunch at Celeste, paid by the New York Times. While I strolled under the sun in the still chilly spring weather I thought about how much I had liked Al Cafetero and that I was sure going to go back soon.

And so I did. This time not for a beer, but for a cuppa. One of the things that had caught my attention during my first visit was the "vaccum tube", a coffee making system that I hadn't seen in ages and that, according to its owners, Al Cafetero is the only place that offers it in Prague.
The friendly lady who took my order was careful to explain me how the system works after letting me choose between organic coffee from Guatemala and Ethiopia. When the coffee was ready (something that is kind of interesting to watch)  she described the characteristics I should expect to feel from it.

Being an espresso person, I was not all that impressed at first, but by the second cup the aromas and flavours started to express themselves with more energy and by the time I finished they had completely invaded me without overwhelming me. What a great cuppa!

The 75CZK price tag almost made me go for an espresso, but curiosity won over financial sense and in the end it was good business because the serving is good enough for 3, maybe 4, cups and it can be shared.

So let's see. Al Cafetero = good beer, great service, fantastic coffee, very pleasant atmosphere, very good medovník, an interesting snack menu, non-smoking, free wi-fi, near the centre and sofas. Who needs Starbucks.

Na Zdraví!

Cafe 89
Botičská 14
Prague 2 - Vyšehrad

Al Cafetero
Blanická 24
Prague 2 - Vinohrady

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10 Apr 2009

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 am a bit nervous about this new enterprise. Everyone I've asked told me that the idea is very good, and that there isn't anyone who offers something similar (though, I'm sure thre is). It's got the advantage of being something different, I just hope there will be enough people interested in it.

So, if you are planning to come over here, or know someone who is, have a look at the webpage www.bohemianbrewingtours.com. It's no big deal and I'm not all that satisfied with it, to be honest. But I will soon get someone to design it a bit more professionally.

Wish me luck

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8 Apr 2009

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, the Dutch would end up with more than 45% of the market, which might put them on top of Plzeňský Prazdroj, at least in official figures. I wouldn't expect then that the Czech Antitrust Office would allow the operation, not because they are very efficient or interested in what they have to do, but because I'm sure that the Czech subsidiary of SAB-Miller are very good when it comes to lobbying.

And what about AB-InBev? According to the original report the brewing monster wants to sell their Czech business unit to raise some much needed cash, something they are lacking after the purchase of the St. Louis based brewing group. Somehow, this doesn't add up to me and makes me wonder about the following:

After selling Pivovary Staropramen, AB-InBev will not have any presence in the Czech market, which could save a lot of time and money with the Antitrust Office, and they will also have a wad of fresh cash that they could easily use to buy Budvar. And believe me, if there is a brewery that AB-InBev wants to buy really badly is Budějovický Budvar.

That would be terrible news! I'm not so naive as to think that after the privatisation Budvar will be allowed to operate and brew they way they are doing now, no matter who the new owner might be. But of all the contenders, the worst is no doubt AB-InBev. Their almost religious global strategy of brewing the cheapest possible way no matter what, was what ruined Staropramen and seems to be on its way to do the same with the American Budweiser">.

Still, that isn't the most worrying thing for me. During the negotiations to buy AB the people of InBev made a lot of promises to the shareholders, one of them was that they would make Budweiser a household name in Europe. Something already then pretty difficult due to the trademark litigations, and almost impossible to fulfill now after the recent ruling of the EU Court.

But what if both brands have the same owner?

Anyway, if I had to bet on who will be Budvar's new owner, I would put my chips on Carslberg. But whoever it turns out to be, it is us, the consumers, who will end up loosing.

Now, if all this means that, at least temporary, Stella Artois will be leaving the Czech market, then we have a little reason to rejoice. Yes, Heineken will stay, and it is the same sort of rubbish, but for some reason it is Stella that irritates me the most.

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5 Apr 2009

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 think the consumer should demand is consistency. Beer isn't like wine where differences between vintages are allowed. Beer must offer a taste and always keep it. Then, it's a matter of taste"
If it is all fine and dandy when wines come out different with every batch (because that is what a vintage is), why isn't it so with beer? After all, the process to make it is more complex than wine's. Moreover, to make wine only one ingredient is used, while beer is the result of mixing at least four ingredients of very different natures (one of which, malt, is not even a raw material!).

Differences between beer batches are not only allowed by the knowleadgable, but in many cases they are welcome and even expected. The consistency that Orellano mentions should refer only to quality. That is the thing that brewmasters all over the world work hard to acheive, a constant quality. The identity of the beer is also important, differences between batches are OK, as long as the beer keeps its personality, but that is also expected in wines.

The fact that most consumers expect their beer to be always the same is something that came out of the septic tank that are the minds of most macros. But even in macro beers a trained palate will be able to distinguish differences between batches.

The problem here is that Fermanda Orellano isn't an average consumer, she's someone who should know a lot better since she's in charge of training future sommeliers, and more so when one of the school's projects is to start giving courses in beer tasting. If she makes such a basic mistake as this, what others will those courses include?

Things like this make me sometimes ask if the craf beer revolution in Argentina and other countries isn't only a trend that many want to get on in order to make a quick buck before it passes. It is indeed something that many people do, including, apparently, Ms Orellano.

But it is not the magazine who's to blame. They are only putting "in paper" what they got from an interview that is part of a very possitive effort when it comes to spreading a beer culture.

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2 Apr 2009

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 one of them got to my hands. Neumarkter Lammsbräu - Glutenfrei. The person who gave it to me confessed that he'd never tasted it, but that he'd been told that it was something completely different to any other beer I'd tasted so far. Which is a lot to say.

This 4.7%ABV beer looks just like your average mass produced pils. Things start getting different in the nose, there is some raw grain, similar to what you can feel in a nealko, but with some more fruit. The taste again is similar to a nealko, Budvar in this case. It's dry, with a sugary undertone and leaves a not very identifiable aftertaste, the closest I got to pin it down was resin. I wasn't too keen on it at first, but as I emptied the glass it slowly won me over. If you asked me if I would go out and look for it, I would anser that no, I wouldn't, but I wouldn't turn it down if offered, and it is nice to know that those who can't tolerate gluten have a quality product available.
In Prague, I've seen at some specialists shops and at Pivovarský Klub. And if anyone is interested in selling it or buying at least a case, you can contact the importer, Pivoňka from Hradec Králové.

There is one thing, though, that caught my attention. It's unrelated to the quality of the product, but still curious. My German is almost 0, but I know the word "bier" all too well, and I wasn't able to find it anywhere on the bottle. The label on the back identfies the product as Alkoholaltiges Getränk (alcoholic drink). On the same label, the brewer tells us that this drink is made with spring water, malt from organically grown barley and organically grown hops. Is it possible that the bollocks from the Reinheitsgebot have reached such extreme of silliness? I've got now idea about the process by which the gluten is extracted from the barley or malt, but shouldn't the resulting product be considered as "pure" as water that has been chemically altered before the mashing?

If anyone knows the answer, it'll be more than welcome.

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