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Showing posts from May, 2009

Observing

The alternative beer festival at Zlý Časy has so far been great. It might not have the scale, promotion or attendance of Český Pivní Festival, but from the stricktly beer point of view, it has been impressive.

Every day, sometimes more than once a day, there is something new, something that has never been seen before in Prague, and quite often, of dreamlike quality. Take for example pseničné pivo from the brand new Pivovar Matuška (the personal project of Martin Matuška, the brewer at Pivovar Strahov), perhaps the best Czech wheat beer I've had (it might have a permanent tap at after the festival), with a delicious complexity of flavours, or Kopřivnice Uhlo, with an almost Belgian-like character that reminded me of a dubbel, even though it is a dark lager. And I could go on and on.

But one of the things that has been the most fun is watching the faces of some people when they order a beer. During lunch time and in the early afternoon the clients of Zlý Časy can be roughly divided in…

A false start

I didn't have it planned, but almost at the last minute I decided to attend the opening day of Český Pivní Festival 2009.

When I arrived a few minutes after the opening of the opening day of last year's edition, there were a couple of things that weren't working all that well, small and understandable organisation problems. However, the most important thing, the beer, was flowing from the very start.

It wasn't like that this year. I arrived almost at 4PM (the festival had started at 3). The grounds were the huge, warehouse sized tents had been set were coverend in water (there had been a pretty big storm around 3). I met Evan Rail and Velký Al in tent #6, the one with Kout and the micros. After greeting them Evan asked me if I noticed something wrong. "No beer", I answered. It was almost 4 and they weren't serving beer yet! At a beer festival! Someone from the organisation approached us to apologise, explaining that due to some technical problems they would…

First success

The other day I did the first tour of my project Bohemian Beer Tours and it was a great success.

It wasn't any of the tours I offer as standard. It was something special in many ways. The client was a group from Boston University Executive MBA that was in Prague doing research on beer tourism in the Czech Republic.

They had contacted me a couple of months before because they needed some "local expert" to give them information and feedback on their plan. Since I was then preparing the Bohemian Beer Tours project, I thought I would offer them to arrange a brewery visit.
The group was 30 people. Fortunately, they already had transportation arranged. The trip had to be in the afternoon and getting to the brewery shouldn't take much longer than one hour. The group not only wanted to visit thesite as any other tour group would do, but also wanted to meet someone from the brewery's management and ask them technical questions about the brewing process and about the brewery …

Parallel

Český Pivní Festival 2009 kicks off this friday and the beer list is very, very interesting (to see it go to this page and click on the logos). I can't think of a better excuse to make there, but...

- What if I can't be bothered with going to Letňany?
- What if I don't want to be "forced" to drink the beers only in half litre measures, specially the stronger ones?
- What if I want a still wider range of craft beers?

The answer to all these questions can be found at Zlý Časy.

As I said the other day, this hospoda in Nusle has great ambitions and, paralel to the festival in Letňany, they have decided to organise their own festival that will also take place between May 22 and 31. The difference here is that only beers from 30 micros from all over the country will be draught from 11 taps. The beers will change as the barrels empty, which gives the perfect reason to go more than once.

The list of pivovary for Třicet mini během deseti dní (30 micros in 10 days) is the follow…

When will they learn to shut up?

The world famous Spanish chef Ferrán Adriá has been quite busy lately promoting Inèdit, the beer that, together with his team of sommeliers, he has created (or is endorsing, depending on whom you ask).

A few days ago the cook was in New York for the official presentation of the beer to the American market. As expected he spoke about the virtues of the new product and, as it seems common among many celebrity chefs around the world, showed how little he knows about beer and its world.

Adriá said that his beer is "special and unique". As if there weren't already other Witt beers in the world, because that is what Inèdit is, no more, no less.

In the same report it is said that Inèdit is the first beer created to pair with high end gastronomy. First of all, there are countless beers that, despite not having been created with that aim, can perfectly pair with the most exclusive foods, ask many Belgian and Danish chefs if you don't believe me. There are also the microbreweries…

Notes from two abbeys

Some of you might have come to think that I don't drink Belgian beers. After all, they have barely been mentioned in this blog. But I do drink them. I just choose not to publish my views on them. That's for two reasons, on the one hand, because if I were to post reviews of all the beers I drink, this blog will become a diary of my tasting notes (more than it already is) and doing that would also take time that I need to write posts that I find more interesting. And on the other hand, because most of those beers have been commented and discussed in countless blogs and forums and, frankly, I don't think I have anything new to bring to the table. Really, how necessary is it another blog post on how good Orval is? Not much, methinks.

But I've recently come accross two Belgian brews which I'd never heard about before, nor in forums neither in blogs, at least not recently (yeah, yeah, I'm sure I can find them in Rate Beer or Beer Advocate, but you already know I never…

With good rythm

When I first heard about Pivovar Tambor, in Dvůr Králové n.L. I didn't pay too much attention to it. I thought it was another brewpub like the many others that have opened in the last couple of years.

I was wrong (I must learn to pay more attention to local beer news, I think). I turns out that Tambor is a micro-industrial brewery. And it seems that its owners are no fools and have planned things quite well. Their aim is to be brewing 6000hl p.a. within a year. The current capacity is just below 8000hl, and the good news is that they have more than enough space to expand it and are willing to do so if business demands it.

The brewery's product line isn't anything groundbreaking. Currently they brew four beers, all of them lagers; three of them, the 10°, the 11° y the 12°, are pale. The remaining is an amber of 13° Balling that is still lagering its first batch. They are also preparing kvasnicové versions and if ordered, the beers can also be sold unfiltered. 

The reason of su…

Those surprising Danes

For most people Danish beer means only Carlsberg, Tuborg perhaps. Fortunately for the good beer lovers in Denmark, and the world over, there is much, much more to choose from.

In fact, Denmark has become one of the most interesting countries in the world when it comes to beer. There has been an enormous growth in the number of commercial craft breweries, there is innovation, there are people recreating ancient recipes, there is experimentation, there is something for everyone.

According to Knut Albert, the number of new beers presented during 2008 was 647! So you get an idea of what this means, in 1999 only 17 new beers were presented. Calculate percentages if you want.

But all this is just interesting statistics, but what about the beer themselves? What are they like?

I've recently tasted 5 samples, which add to the ones I already enjoyed at last year's Christmas Beer Festival and during the Christmas celebrations.

Three of the new samples got to my hands thanks to Olle, one of my…

Just don't tell too many people

Josef Krýsl is one of the most important Czech beer gurus. He is the person behind Pivovar Bašta in Prague, Pivovar Purkmistr in Pilsen and several others spread in the Czech Republic.

Besides preparing another five brewpubs in towns like Slaný, Kladno and Most, Mr Krýsl still works on his personal beer project Joe's Garage. It seems that for it he has dropped bottom fermenting beers in order to fully concentrate on top fermenting ones, perhaps partly insipired by the possitive reception that the beers from Pivovar Kocour have had.

Production so far is very limited. It could actually be said that it is still in a very advanced "experimental stage". However, two 15l kegs are on their way to Prague, one with Joe's Garage Californian Pale Ale (which tries to recreate the celebrated Sierra Nevada Pale Ale) and the other one with a Rauchweizen. Both will be available, for I'm sure no more than a few hours, at a renown local hospoda. Those who can figure out which one it…

An example to follow

Zlý Časy may lack nice toilets, space, non-smoking area, proper ventilation, etc. What it doesn't lack, however, is ambition.

Since he left the macros behind, a bit more than a year ago, the owner has aimed to turn his hospoda into the top spot for beer lovers in Prague. Not only there is an increasing focus on Czech craft beers, but also three fridges (with more to come) have been added recently that are filled with bottled Czech Speciály and imported beers, many of which rarities never before seen in this neck of the woods, all can be bought to drink there or for takeaway.

If that wasn't enough, Zlý Časy has commissioned their own beer. And I'm not speaking about a beer of regular production with a new name. This is something custom made. Zabiják z Nuslí was brewed by Petr Burianek at the facilities of Pivovarský Dvůr Chýně.
It's named after a book, but the label  gives it a black humour twist, it pictures Nuseslký Most (Nusle bridge), a favourite destination for suici…

Cut it!

Las year I wrote a post about řezané, the Czech custom of mixing a pale and dark beer, something like the English black & tan, and I never spoke about the subject again.

I used to drink a lot more řezané than I do now. In fact, since I have become some sort of "beer hunter" I almost don't drink "cut" beers at all, and if it wasn't for this pot by Ron Pattison, I don't think I would have thought about doing what you will see below.

I decided to mix some beers at home, but not as it is usually done, i.e. a pale and a dark beer from the same brand or brewing group, I wanted to cut beers that are different from each other, always keeping the pale+dark concept. These were the pairings:

First cut: Svijanský Rytíř + Pardubický Porter. 12° balling - 5%ABV for Svijany, 19° Balling - 8%ABV for Porter. The former, with a classic Bohemian pale lager bitterness to which some almost pale ale like fruity notes are added. The latter, with prunes, chocolate and port.
I …