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Showing posts from September, 2009

A matter of origin

I was going to rant about something else, but the comment that one Manrique left on the Spanish version of my review of Asturian (or wannabe Asturian) beers made me change my mind (don't worry, that rant will be published soon).

The comment says, in quite dodgy Spanish: "with all respect, I don't agree at all with your views about Belenos and L'esbardu: I think they are very tasty beers and your comment about the labels is typical of a beer amateur that likes give his opinion about everything, but sometimes in excess. As for the rest, I think they are both very interesting beers with a lot of character"

Manrique's opinion about the beers, provided it's honest, is as valid as mine, so I'm not going to argue that.

Neither I'm going to argue the overopinionated beer amateur thing, because he's not that far off the mark.

I will argue the reason he calls me an amateur, though, the labels thing. In my review I complained about the almost total lack of i…

If you happen to be around

I heard about this just by chance (thanks Kristian), starting on Friday, 2/10 through Sunday 11/10 those of you who happen to be in Prague will be able to attend a reduced version of Český Pivní Festival, called "Octoberfest at Pankrác or Podzimní Ochutnávka (Autumn tasting), depending on whom you ask.

The event will take place at Panorama Hotel Prague, right by the Pankrác Metro station (Line C). The system will be the same as at the big Spring romp: free entrance, payment in "tolars", etc.
The beer list, which you can see here, has been reduced to 14 samples, all from K-Brewing Trade breweries.

It's just a good alternative for those who will fancy doing something different while visiting Prague, and also a good opportunity to taste some beers that you are very unlikely to come accross in the centre.

Na Zdraví!

Choose your preferred Prague hotels and get free transport.

A Project to Support

The number of hospody that have adopted the "Čvrtá pípa“ model is growing ("Čvrtá pípa“, fourth tap in Czech, means the tap, or taps, with rotating beers). Honza from Svět Piva said in a comment on Evan Rail's blog that he's putting together a list of this kind of places, and that he count was already 40 spread all over the country. Great news for those of us who love good beer.

And the good news doesn't end there. Jirka Bejček, owner of První Pivní Tramvaj (a great place everyone should visit), one of the pioneers of the fourth tap, now wants to bring together all these places in what he calls Aliance P.I.V..
At the moment, there are five members of the Alliance of Beersmart Taprooms, the above mentioned Tramvaj, Zlý Časy, Merenda, U Prince Miroslava and Obžerství (a hospoda in Petrovice that I haven't visited yet). The organisers say that the group is open to every hospoda that has at least one rotating tap.

This project isn't only about a list of pubs, re…

A family visit

For the first time since our wedding my parents came to visit us (well, actually, they came to visit our daughter, their first grandchild) and the other day we went with them and my parents in law on a not very beery trip to Mělník.

Despite not living to far from it, I had never visited Mělník. It's located 37km North of Prague and its skyline is dominated by the local chateau and the tower of the church of St. Peter and Paul. When we went there were repairing many of the streets of the historical centre, but I felt the town was really nice just the same and its air of decadence gave it a pleasant atmosphere.
The chateau  overlooks the confluence of the two largest rivers in the Czech Rep., Vltava and Labe, and the view from up there is great. On the steep slopes below the building there are vineyards. This is also a wine making region, much smaller and less famous than South Moravia, but, according to those on the know, some of the wines coming from there are just as good.

And, just…

From Barcelona with taste

I've already mentioned this somewhere, Catalunya/Barcelona seems to be the most dynamic centre of craft brewing in Spain. In the last few years several new breweries have started offering their beers to the public, though, just as it happens everywhere, there is a bit of everything when it comes to quality.

So far I'd had only one experience with Catalan craft beers (those from Moritz don't count as they are not brewed in the province), two lagers that where mediocre at best and a very interesting ale brewed with honey and herbs. Now, thanks to María and Susana I can expand my horizons a bit. They brought me three samples, from different breweries and styles.

I started with Runa Brown Ale (5%ABV) from Ales Agullons. The other day I read an interesting article about this brewer. Among other things, it speaks about how jealous Mr. Agullons is with the quality of his beers. If a batch is not up to the quality standards he wants, he sells it cheaper, in unlabeled bottles as &quo…

An interesting experience

Regardless of what some people would like us to believe, it is clear now that there are some beers that are meant to be drunk only after months, if not years, of maturing in a bottle. It's not that you can't drink them "fresh and young", but that's not what their brewers had in mind and likely is they won't be enjoyed to their fullest.

There are also many beers that you can perfectly enjoy "fresh and young", but that at the same time, can be aged, after which they will have evolved and in some cases even improved. Many ales that fit this description could be mentioned, but how many lagers? Well, the other day I came across one, and the best of all was that it was a beer that I know very well, X33.

In one of my visits to U Medvídku I had a chat with Laďa, the brew master, about vintage beers and he, just like that, said that he had some samples of X33 that were a couple of years old aging in a fridge. Then he asked me if I didn't want to come back …

Vintage 2009

We've had a great summer in our kitchen garden. Like last year, we planted tomatoes and courgettes. We weren't very successful with the latter last year, I think we could only pick three. This year, though, it was impressive, we've got tired of eating courgettes in any way you can imagine, and we still have several kilos of tomatoes waiting to be picked. We also planted onions, carrots and strawberries. All was great, fantastic yields. We even managed to taste some of the raspberries and currants we had planted in spring.

The hops were not an exception. They grew bigger and leafier, and there were a lot of blossoms. Last weekend was harvest time. I was, I think, two hours picking those blossoms.The quality of last year's harvest wasn't that good, but I wasn't expecting that, actually. The hops had no aroma at all. Harvest 2009, though, not only was a lot more plentiful, but the blossoms are very aromatic, with strong piney notes. I have them in a bowl on the bar…

Two events in September

Slunce ve Skle was perhaps the best beer event I attended last year (well, at least what I remember of it). Fortunately, this festival of microbreweries will have a second edition next weekend.

Just like last year, it will take place in the courtyard of Purkmistr, in Pilsen, next Saturday Sept. 19, and it will be bigger this time. The official webpage of the festival lists 35 breweries that are not only from the whole of the Czech Rep., but there will also representatives from Austria, Germany and Slovakia.

Not to be missed by good beer lover that happens to be in the area.

Slunce ve Skle
Sat. 19 Sept.
Pivovarský Dvůr Plzeň (Purkmistr)
Selská náves 2
326 00 Plzeň – Černice
Reservations for the hotel-restaurant:
Tel. + 420 377 994 311
E-mail: recepce@purkmistr.cz
To know how to get there using public transport go to this post I wrote last year.

That very same Saturday, in Prague, Pivovarský Kĺub kicks off their "Minioktoberfest". There will be three Festbier from Munich served in 1 litre…

God Save the (Real) Ale

Look at me, all this time ranting about beer and not once I've reviewed English Ales. Well, thanks to my friend John, this has been now corrected.

I know I've mentioned it several times already, but I'll never get tired of saying it. The best about this beer blogging thing is the possibility I've had of meeting new people and making new friends. It's really gratifying being able to sit for a chat and a few beers with someone who shares my passion, or who simply wants to meet me because they appreciate what I do in this space, to all that, we have the chance that many have given me of tasting beers that otherwise I might have never been able to experience. What else can you ask?

Back to the topic in question. John brought me three samples, all from different styles and breweries. A nice palette that shows different aspects of contemporary English Ales.

As usual, I started by the lightest. T.E.A. (Traditional English Ale) from Hogs Back Brewery, an independent brewer fr…

Shades of grey

If there is something most good beer lovers will agree is that nothing good usually comes out of foreign ownership. Examples that prove that are plentiful, AB-InBev with Staropramen just to mention one that is closer to me.

But is it always so bad?

Much can be said about the changes for the worse that have taken place at Pilsner Urquell since it was privatised last decade. But I remember what a friend once told me: "The best that could have happened to PU was being bought by SAB-Miller". He points out that if it had been bought by some other multinational, Pilsner Urquell would have become a "provincial" brand. SAB-Miller, though, turned it into their premium brand at a global level. Yes, it's true that the beer isn't what it used to be, but how many doors have been opened to "Czech Beer" thanks to the mighty marketing power of this brewing giant?

I think that a more clear example is Heineken. Starobrno, the first brewery they bought in the Czech Rep…

From Barcelona, well, sort of

If I remember well what I was told, Moritz is a historical beer brand from Barcelona. At some point the brewery that made it had to close down and it wasn't until the beginning of this year that the descendants of the former owner were able to resurrect it.

At the moment the beers aren't brewed in Barcelona, but under contract at La Zaragozana. However, I've heard that the owners are about to open a brewpub in their hometown.

I apologise for the vagueness of the information on the brewery. I didn't take notes when I was told the story and the web page is mess of Flash animations that make its navigation a nightmare.

I received samples of the only two beers Moritz seems to be currently brewing.

The fist one I opened was, as it's my custom, the weaker one (5.4%ABV), which is called just Moritz. What sort of beer it is, what is it made of, etc, that's information you will have to seek elsewhere, because you won't find it on the labels (and, unless you are very pat…