28 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 two groups, those who come for solid pub grup in big portions and at affordable prices, and those who come mostly for the beer. In the first group there are those who wash down their lunch with beer and usually simply order "pivo", what they get is a glass of Kácov 10%. Not this week, though. The almost permanent desítka has stepped aside during the festival, so when someone orders "pivo", the server's response is "which one?".

"Desítka", the patron will say.

"No, there is no desítka today", the server will answer.

"So, what do you have?", the patron will ask somewhat confused. The server will show the blackboard where the beers of the day are listed. It is really funny the face that many put when reading the list full of seemingly exotic names (even though the names are of breweries that are far more "Czech" than Gambrinus or Pilsner Urquell). Some will accept the servers suggestion, others will order the lighter beer on tap, but everyone surprised and very satisfied with the quality of what they are drinking. And that is what counts at the end of the day.
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Note: I've been at the festival at Zlý Časy almost every day, but only once at the big one in Letňany. That's not because I have anything against the latter, regardless the embarrasing ogranisation mess that left me such a bad taste the opening day (things seem to be going really well now, almost everyone I've spoken to had only good things to say about the event). It's because Nusle is a lot closer to the centre than Letňany and I don't have to wait until 3PM to sit down and have something to eat and drink, not to mention the how many new beers I have tasted, the friends that I run into each day, etc, etc.

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25 May 2009

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 wouldn't start serving beer for another half an hour, then he suggested we go to tent #3.
There we went. The few people that had arrived at the festival seemed to be all there. There were long lines at the taps and the beer was being tapped very, very slowly. Table service, not a chance. At least we were able to buy some tolars (they were selling them in little bags of five units, pretty clever).
Very thristy and a bit frutrated we decided to go back to tent 6. Beer was already being tapped. Only Konrad, of all, the least interesting. I couldn't wait any longer and went to the next door tent. Things were working fine here. With a Primátor Stout in my hand I went back to my friends, only to go with them back again to tent 5.

Things now were looking a bit more festivally. People was slowly arriving. Table service was excellent. The waitresses, all of them very friendly, would show up as soon as a glass was empty to see if we wanted another beer. I stayed with Primator's "non lagers", Stout, EPA and Weizen (what a great idea it was to include them). All of them were in great shape. Almost too good, I would say, specially EPA and Weizen (I could see many people drinking the latter at the neighbouring tables).

We returned to tent 6. It was pretty populated already. Table service was already working properly and all the beers were flowing. The craft of the day was Rampušak, de Pivovar Dobruška, a very nice pale 12, unfiltered and with a lot of life in each sip.

I left a bit after 7, still not liking the choice of venue. Compared with last years, where there were trees, green and life, this one looked like a factory or a distribution centre for a supermarket chain. The atmosphere outside the tents wasn't too different to that, either.
While I was walking the metro station I noticed that all tents were opened and there were plenty of people in each one. The festival was working at full steam already. Comments I received and read during the weekend were all very possitive. Still, the bad taste that the beginning left still lingered. Organisation errors like those are unforgivable. I hope nothing like that happens, I hope the festival is a success.

Oh! Before going to the middle of nowhere that is Letňany, I had stopped by Zlý Časy to check out the parallel festival they are organising. 11 beers craft beers on tap each day (well, when I arrived, there were only 8, we had to wait until the storm passed for the taps in the patio to be set up). I had three, all of them really, really good. Do not miss it, no true beer lover should miss this festival. Actually, if you have to choose between the big one in Letňany and this small one in Nusle, choose the latter.
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21 May 2009

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 as a company, its plans, challenges, etc.

It wasn't very easy to arrange something like that. Fortunately, the people of Pivovar Klášter accepted the proposal and things couldn't have turned out any better.

I was told that the only member of the management that would be available on that day would be the head brewer Mr Vladimír Pelanta. Great was my surprise when one of the people waiting for us at the entrance of the brewery was Mr Ctírad Kábrt, the Business Director, who had changed his appointments so he could join us.

The tour of the brewery itself wasn't too much out of the ordinary. Ms. Lenká Nosková guided us through the facilities, starting at the room with the mashing tuns and coppers and then going down to the underground corridors where the brewery is fermented and lagered.
After that, and after drinking some beers tapped straight from a lagering tank, we went to the brewery's restaurant, Skála, that is located in one of the tunnels that was carved in the 12th century to accommodate the monks that built the now disappeared monastery. The restaurant only opens Fridays and Saturdays, but I was able to get Mr. Raitr, the person in charge of it, to open it for us to have there the meeting with the management.
We had a snack (smoked ham roasted on a spit) and a couple of beers and the Q&A session with Messrs Pelanta and Kábrt started. As I did during the tour, I translated all questions and answers and I must say I did one hell of a job! In fact, I believe thanks to my translation the representatives of the brewery, Nosková, Pelanta and Kábrt, felt more relaxed and were able to tell us more interesting bits than they could have if they had to do it in English. (All that information is reserved for a future post).

I am so happy with the way things turned out! The group from Boston University were very, very satisfied, everyone agreed that this was the best activity of the many they had during their stay in Prague, and they were also very happy with the amount of very useful information the got from Pivovar Klášter as well as from me.

The first trip of Bohemian Beer Tours was an overall great success.

I also want to take this opportunity to thank the people from Pivovar Klášter, who were so great and accommodating. Without them it would have been impossible for things to turn out so well. And I would recommend all of you to visit this brewery, it's got a pretty interesting history and it's something quite unique. And if you need some more information about how to visit this and other breweries, you know where to go.

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18 May 2009

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 following:

- Avar Hlučín
- Slezan
- Qásek Ostrava
- Zabřeh Ostrava
- Hukvaldy
- Kozlovice
- Kopřivnice
- Rambousek
- Medlešice
- Bělěč Car
- Zamecký Pivovar Chše
- Veklý Ribník (Střibro)
- Železna Ruda
- Dobřany
- Purkmistr
- Lotr
- Joe's Garage
- Pivovarský Dvůr Chýně
- Pivovarský Dvůr Dražič Lipan
- Berounský Medvěd
- Zvíkov
- Broumy
- Valášek Vsetín
- Vyšší Brod
- Svatý Jan
- Strahov
- Novoměstský pivovar
- Moritz Olomouc
- Svatovaclavský Pivovar Olomouc
- U Krále Jčminka Prostějov
- Lipník nad Bečvou
- Žamberský Kanec
- Kocour Varsdorf
- Kozlíček Horní Dubenky
- Rampušak Drouška
- Tambor Dvůr Králové
- Rychnov nad Kněžnou
- Excelent Rýmařov

If some of those names sound a bit exotic, they are. Several of the breweries have never been seen in Prague. This festival looks like a "ticksters" paradise.

Zlý Časy
Čestmírova 390/5
140 00 Praha-Nusle

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15 May 2009

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 in Northern Italy, many of which are also top of the range restaurants and the beers there are brewed with the food these restaurants serve in mind. Of course, it is possible that someone as busy as Adriá has not heard about these examples, as he doesn't seem to have heard of a Garret Oliver, Susan Nowak, Ben McFarland y Will Beckett, etc. etc. etc..

Oh! And someone should tell Adriá that beer does not need "glamour". Beer has shown many times over that all it needs to enter the world of high gastronomy is products of good quality backed by people who know about the drink. And that is exactly what the industry is lacking, people who know about beer. Unfortunately, Adriá is not one of them.

Inèdit is a pretty good beer for Spanish standards, and is in a way revolutionary for that market. Not so much for the beer itself, that is nothing new under the sun, but because of its marketing strategy, which might not be much of a novelty in global terms.

It seems that "the best chef in the world", his team and the brewery Estrella Damm are not aware that there are many, many people that know about beer (and their numbers are growing). With this and other statements not only they are insulting our intelligence, but they are also making big fools of themselves. Because anyone who knows at least a bit about beer can realise in a second that what these people are saying is just a big pile of bollocks with no connection with reality.

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14 May 2009

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 go there). They are Maredsous Bruin (8%ABV) and Floreffe Tripel (7,5%ABV).

Both are Abbey Beers. Maredsous is brewed under the supervision of the monastic community of the same name, according to Benedictine traditions (or so the bottle says). Floreffe is brewed by Brasserie Lefebvre. Though there doesn't seem to be any monastic involvement, the beer does have a historical link with the namesake monastery, now a school.
I arrive at the mass at Maerdsous. The officiating abbot is wearing a spongy cap of slightly tanned colour and a very dark amber robe. He starts the sermon in a low voice and dull tone that soon becomes a monotonous drone. My mind starts to wander, only decorum is keeping me awake. When the sermon ends I am bored out of my skull. What a waste of time! The only thing that the good Abbot Bruin of Maredsous has managed to stir in me is the question whether a really bad beer isn't sometimes better than a very boring one.
A few days later I find myself at the Floreffe abbey. The officiating monk is wearing a compact white cap and an almost orange robe. Like his colleague (or competitor or enemy, you never know with these religious orders), he starts his homily with a dull voice. I take a deep breath, getting ready for the worst. Then suddenly something, a word? a phrase? a change in the tone of voice?, catches my interest. I start paying attention to what this monk is telling me. It is nothing new, nothing I haven't heard before, sometimes even with fancier words. But many times it isn't what it's said, but how it is said, and this friar says it so well. When the sermon ends I feel very glad I have attended it. It was nothing life changing, mind you, nor has it converted me (my sincretist beer faith is too strong), but it is something I would like to listen to again in the future. Sometimes it is the simple and reassuring words what you need.

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13 May 2009

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 such conservative portfolio is that the owners know their market very well. They have already secured deals with several hospody in Dvůr Králové and they know that the patrons haven't got very sophisticated palates and are more than likely to reject anything that strays too much out of the stuff they are used to drinking, more so when it is from a new brand. The brewery is looking for clients in Prague and it seems they have already agreed with a couple of hospody, which will tap the new beers at least occassionally.
I've been able to taste two of them. The 11° and the 12°. They are impossible to tell apart visually. Both are very, very pale gold, with compact bright white head and no visible carbonation (as it should be with a well brewed and well tapped lager).

The 11° has an intense grassy aroma, very fresh. It's got a pretty hoppy taste, quite a lot of Saaz there, with just enough malt to avoid becoming boring. What a great session beer this is! Light bodied, smooth, it goes down easier than mineral water and the finish lingers long enough to have us have another sip. While I was drinking it I could almost feel myself sitting in a beer garden knocking down pint after pint, after pint of this Tambor while having a good time with friends (Oh! If only Prague's beer gardens had decent beer!).

The 12° is very similar to the previous one. Fuller bodied, a little maltier. It might lack some personality (a bit more fruit notes would give it more character), but it's still a very well brewed lager and more than adecuate to drink with lunch.

I really want to have a go at the other two, but more than that I want Pivovar Tambor to be sucessfull. In this day and age it is really nice to see someone taking a risk and offering quality. May the drums keep rolling!

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11 May 2009

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 Danish fans, with whom I had a great afternoon drinking beers and chatting about everything and nothing.

I started with the one I was most curious about. Beer Here Påske, an Easter beer brewed by, according to Olle, one of the best young craft brewers in Denmark (who unfortunately, isn't so goot when it comes to business, so now he has resnt capacity at other breweries to make his own stuff) with, besides the usual ingredients, grapes and honey. A fantastic beer, I must say, perhaps the best I've had so far this year. Pours amber with a generous head. The nose is full of pipe pinapple, with a herbal and floral background. What a refreshing bouquet it's got! The taste is at the same time mild and complex, a lot of sweet fruit (pineapple, apricot) and as much dry herbs that in their fight to take charge of the flavour the only winner is the palate. It's 7%ABV is so well integrated that it's a bit hard to believe that this is such a strong beer. Perhaps more summer than Easter beer, but a lovely thing anyway.
It was followed by Mikkeler Stateside IPA. The name is enough to figure out that in front of us we have a IPA inspired by the American model. In fact, according to their web page, many of Mikkeler's beers are inspired by American crafts. This one in particular pours amber, looks very similar to Påske, and like that one, it's got a very generous and lasting head. In the nose predominate tropical fruit with a subtle caramel touch. I really like it when there is a contrast between aromas and taste in a beer, and Stateside IPA does that great. The flavour is really citrusy, very American, the tropical fruits show up for an instant only to, after a quick nutty note, leave room for a finish that becomes drier as the glass goes down. Very nice beer that, also with 7%ABV, goes down very easily.
Last of that lot was Hr. Frederisen from Amager Bryghus. Olle warned me that this was a bit of a monster. Brewed with 8 kinds of malt (I couldn't confirm which kinds because the web page is only in Danish), 10.5%ABV and 80IBU, those numbers alone tell us that this is not a beer for beginners. I opened it with a "let's see how tough you are" attitude. I poured that very black liquid with the same stance. I was surprised by how long the sandy head lasts despite the high ABV. I started to doubt my attitude when getting the bouquet, a very complex one indeed, brandy, wood, grapes, very bitter chocolate. I regretted having understimated it once I started drinking. There was tobacco, fruity acidity, whisky, nuts, all at the same time, all dancing a perfect choreography. As the glass went down chocolate notes show up, as if anything else was needed. The finish is surprisingly short, very dry and with a spicy touch. It's not an easy beer to drink, it's quite sticky. A half a litre bottle is definetively for sharing. I can see it as a pefect pairing for a very cured cheese platter or one of those curries that will make your eyes sweat. Alone, better in small doses.
These three beers gave me the excuse I was needing to open the two beers from Nørrebro Bryghus that I had in my cellar. Nørrebro Bryghus is a brewpub (or rather a pretty posh restaurant - brewery) in Copenhague that bottles its beers in 600ml bottles with very nice labels, the presentation is flawless. I'd already tasted La Granja Stout y the Christmas beer Julebryg, I had liked both a lot. Now it was the turn of the other two that you can find in Prague. Bombay Pale Ale and North Bridge Extreme.

Bombay Pale Ale is, as you can imagine, and IPA. Pours an almost orange amber, nice head, very finy bubbles. There are tropical fruit and some caramel in the nose. So far, very similar to Mikkeler's Stateside. There is bit more body in this one though and the hops are more subdued. The taste is tropical with notes of green apples and flowers. The finish is very dry, but quite short. A very nice summer beer. Ideal to drink at the end of a very warm day, perhaps paired with grilled veggies or seafood.
North Bridge Extreme is another thing. 9.5%ABV, dark amber, a bit cloudy. In the nose there is cinammon, gingerbread and citrus, that despite their different characters they integrate really well. It tastes of spice, with some vanilla and tobacco notes. The finish is tremendously dry and the alcohol shows up without having been called, though is not a big issue. More of a winter beer this one, but a nice one nonetheless.
I liked all of these beers, each of them with its personality, with something different to say. It is really remarkable what is happening in Denmark, not only because of just these five samples, but because of the great number of beers of apparently great quality that are brewed in that small Scandinavian country. It's about time for me to start paying a bit more attention to my roots.

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7 May 2009

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 is and manage to get there on time will be able to sample these two interesting novelties.

The same day and at the same hospoda a beer from the brand new Pivovar Tambor frm Dvůr Králové nad Labem will make its debut in Prague. Let's hope they are better than the two I had yesterday from another brand new micro, Rychnov n. Kněžnou, which were, one very boring, the other one, downright bad.

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6 May 2009

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 suicides of all ages (the name means The Killer from Nusle). The beer is a 17° Balling polotmavé with a "very Chýně" nose and a taste that starts up with fruit and caramel, but that soon switches to a rather intense hoppy bitterness. It is dangerously easy to drink and, though there are a few rough edges that need some polishing, it is a very well made beer by all means.
And it is selling really well. The 1.5l PET bottles are selling like warm bread and they are tapping about a 50l keg every two days. If my maths are right, of the 1000l that were brewed, less than a half is left, so hurry up if you don't want to miss it.

And if you do miss it, well, you will have to wait until next year. This 17° polotmavá is only a seasonal beer. The summer Zabiják z Nuslí is already on the drawing board and I can already tell you that it's going to be a Witt.

Wouldn't it be nice if more pubs and reastaurants were managed by people who like thinking outside the box? I really hope this idea will catch on and will be copied, just like it's happening with the "rotating" tap model pioneered by Pivovarský Klub.

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Zlý Časy
Čestmírova 390/5
140 00 Praha-Nusle

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4 May 2009

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 poured a bit too much Svijany in the first pint and the result was a very boring beer. Instead of complementing or contrasting each other, both beers did their best in drowning each other out.

Maths dictated that the second pint should have more of the Porter. Things improved considerably. Licorice, coffee and burnt sugar stepped forward. All by themselves they wouldn't have been very pleasant, but with the support of the fusion of the fruit in both beers, the resulting drink acquired a very interesting complexity. A slow drinker.

Second cut: Janáček Comenius + Primátor Double: 14° Balling - 6%ABV for Comenius, 24° Balling - 10%ABV for Double. The biggest gravity difference and also a pretty large difference in flavour, dry herbal in the former, licorice and chocolate in the latter.
The result, however, was awful. Tasted like medicine with sugar. I had a hard time finishing the glass, and I still had two half bottles to mix. I Thought better and decided to drink them separatedly instead.

Third cut: Opat Bitter + Herold Tmavé. 11° Ballig - 4.2%ABV for Opat, 13°Balling - 5.2% ABV for Herold. The former, a light, pretty bitter session beer with cold hopping. The latter, perhaps my favourite Czech dark beer, with intense roasted notes.
The result was that Herold crushed the abbot, and while he was down on the ground, kicked him a bit more for good measure. The only effect on Herold was that it tasted a bit tired. Tried adding some more of the Opat, which resulted in a further beating and in a more tired dark beer. I thought that the contrasting flavours of these two beers would work in an interesting way, but I didn't consider the differences of the bodies of both.

Fourth cut: Polička Záviš + Herold Tmavé. After Herold's domination of the previous cut, I had my doubts about how this one would turn out. Though I was also hopeful, Záviš comes with 12°Balling and 5%ABV and with a rather fruity profile.
The result was a Herold a bit more tired than before, but still dominating, leaving only a tiny space for the fruit from Záviš.

Neither of the cuts with Herold worked as I had expected. Maybe I should have mixed it with Svijanský Rytíř, or something similar, after all, that one managed to hold its ground very well with Porter, a much stronger beer. I will try it out one of these days.

Fifth cut: Primátor Weizenbier + Primátor Stout. The original plan was to recreate a black & tan with Primátor English Pale Ale, but I couldn't find it, so instead of going to look for it somewhere else I picked a bottle of Weizen. And why not? wasn't it the idea of this "study" to mix very different beers? And what can be more different than a Stout and a Heffeweizen.
I didn't know what to expect, but whatever it would turn out to be, the very idea of mixing these beers was a lot of fun. Fortunately, the result was fantastic. I poured the weizen first in the first pint. The taste of the blend was reminiscent of a rauchweizen, with some chocolate. Primátor Stout is brewed with some smoked malts, I don't know in what proportion, but I'm sure it isn't too big since their contribution is limited to an undertone that adds a bit more complexity to the drink. Here they took a more protagonist role, becoming a perfect duo with the fruit from the weizen.

The second pint was even better. This time I poured the stout first. The yeast sediments of the weizen formed a golden cloud that almost managed to totally separate both beers. The taste, very ripe bananas with espresso coffee and some chocolate. Here the smokned notes went back to the background and the coffee gained in intensity as the glass went down, without ever managing to fully dominate. When I finished this beauty I regretted not having bought another pair of those beers. I wanted to cut them again, this time in a pitcher and sit down to sip them slowly as the sun went down. That is something I will definetively do soon.
I want to keep on cutting beers. The possibilities are endless. Besides, it is something really fun and interesting to do, which also gives me some material to write about Czech beers, which I've kind of neglected lately.

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