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Showing posts from January, 2010

Surprise from Barcelona

Fortunately, Glops Fumada wasn't the only thing that my friend Ramón brought me on his last visit. When he wrote asking if there was any beer in particular I was interested in, I could have asked him for another sample from Guineu , their Montserrat was lovely and I have good reason to believe it isn't an exception among their product line. I could have also asked him to bring over a bottle from Ales Agullons , so I could see what their beer is like when it's in good shape. However, and against my better judgement, I decided for something from the brewery everyone in Barcelona seemed to be talking about at the time, Zulogaarden . Ramón obliged and during a long, animated and liquid lunch he gave me two samples from this new micro, Norai and Sang de Gossa . When I saw Norai's presentation I started to have serious doubts about my choice. The label seems hand drawn, cut with scissors by someone who was either laughing really hard or riding a horse and then stuck on an

Darker greys

Some time ago I commented that what Heineken was doing in the Czech Republic was neither black, nor white , but rather of several shades of grey. Well, it seems those shades are getting a bit darker. Pivovar Kutná Hora wasn't the only brewery that Heineken closed last year. They also sealed the fate of Pivovar Znojmo , which stopped brewing last summer. After closing down the shop, the Dutch group offered to sell the brewery to the city of Znojmo for CZK 26 million (about a million EU). The city's government is, of course, very interested in buying it, not so much for the brewery itself, but because within its property is located the Rotunda sv. Kateřiny , a small Romanesque church dating from the 11th century, as well as the access to the Znojmo Castle, both sites of great historical and touristic importance. So far so good. However, there is a condition that Heineken has put to sell the brewery which illustrates very well the attitude that companies like this have towards t

I just love winter

The colder the better. OK, it's true that the amount of snow that fell the last two weekends was way more than necessary, and that clearing it from the driveway, walkway and part of the terrace, several times, was a pain in the ass. The reward, however, was priceless. I love winter, a few minutes outside and a světlý ležák gets to the right temperature. Na Zdraví! Travel to the Czech Republic and stay at the best Prague Hotels

Something tasty for the weekend

This is the result of another culinary experiment that turned out to be great, tasty, rich and very caloric, what isn't there to love?: Baltic Porter Ragout Ingredients: (Bailey, you are going to love this) 500g of shoulder of pork (though mutton, lamb or even boar could be good) 1/2l Baltic Porter (If you don't have anything in that style, plain Porter or Dopplebock should do fine) 100g of smoked streaky bacon, chopped. 1 mid sized onion, coarsely chopped. 3 garlic cloves, chopped. 200g (approx.) of tomato puree (I used what was left from the sauce I had made for a pizza the day before) Soy sauce, paprika, salt, pepper and cumin. Oil or lard. Cut the meat in the smallest pieces you can be arsed to and put them in a large bowl. Add some soy sauce, salt and the spices, mix and then add half the beer (the other half pour in a glass and drink while you cook, it's a very important step). Put that aside while you chop and fry the other stuff in a large pan. When the onions start

Don't bother

In his previous visit, my friend Ramón had brought me three samples from the Spanish micro Llúpols i Llevats , a.k.a. Glops . One of them, d'Hivern , an ale flavoured with honey and herbs, I quite liked. The other two, both lagers, well, let's just say they weren't good. That time Ramón didn't want to bring me Glops Fumada (smoked) because he had very wrongly assumed that I didn't like that kind of beers. In his most recent visit he made sure to get that sorted out. Since the very first sip I took from a Schlenkerla Märzen I fell in love with smoked beers. Even when the smoked malts don't represent a big part of the grist, they are able to give the beer an extra twist. I was very curious about Fumada. My expectations, though, weren't very high, they were actually lying on the sofa, channel surfing and getting very bored. Just like those Torrada and Negra , Glops fumada is a lager that has also gone through a secondary fermentation of only 21 days. Now, I

Enriching conversations

OK. I'm sure that for many of you this won't be anything new, but still I want to say it. Having a chat with someone who makes a living out of making beer, specially with true Brew Masters, is a fantastic experience, one I think I would still enjoy even without being the beer obsessed that I am. During this decade that I've been teaching languages to adults  I've got to know pretty well many people from all walks of life. Few are those who enjoy what they do and feel so passionate about it as brewers. Last week I visited some of the local brewpubs to research for my new piece for Bar&Beer and I "interviewed" the lads in charge of making the beers. As always, I came out learning a couple of new things. At Chýně , Brew Master Tomáš Mikulica told me that he always lets top and bottom fermenting yeasts do their job in open fermenters in the same room without fear they will fight each other. Only once he's had a problem, and it was after letting ferment se

A question of semantics?

In today's blog post Alan once again rants against the use of the word "pairing" when speaking about beer and food combinations. I understand and, to a certain extent, I agree with his point of view. Those who know about beer, or who are experienced and curious drinkers don't really need to be instructed on which beer should be drank with this or that food. We are very well able to do that by ourselves by means of trial and error. And many times we don't even bother with that, really. At home we drink světlý ležák with most dinners, regardless of what they are made of, because that is what I always have at hand. Still there are times when I cook something thinking about a specific beer, or pick a beer that will best match what I have prepared. Anyway, the reality is that we are a small minority. Most people do not associate "beer" with a drink, but rather with a brand or a funny ad. So, I see it as a positive thing that the mainstream media is more and


My old man had his 65th birthday a few days before he and my mum came to visit us for Christmas. When I sent him the greetings I promised we would have toast with something appropriate. The beer I had in mind was Mikeller Black , a 17.5%ABV that its creator had sent me a couple of months before. And so it was that I uncorked it after a pre-Christmas dinner . We had it in brandy glasses, perhaps not the best container, but the beer did look great in them. Mikeller Black (such is the meaning of the ideogram on the label) pours really black, the kind that sucks the light. I can't speak much of its aromas, the shape of the glass concentrated too much of the alcohol in its narrow mouth, but I could notice what I think were wood, smoke and Port. To the palate, though, it's a magnificent beer. Full bodied wine mouthfeel. The flavours surprise by how relatively moderate they are and the best way I can find to describe them is Tawny Port mixed with espresso where someone melted some b

Historic detail

While reading a book full of pretty interesting bits of Argentine History (pity it isn't them what schools teach, we would have learned our history a lot better if so) I came across some rather curious beer trivia. The economy in the Rio de la Plata region got started with a lot of hard work and smuggling (yeah, that's right, even from the very beginnings in Argentina, abiding to the law is the exception) and one of the most "popular" products at that time, after slaves, was beer. The book's author also quotes the writings of an Englishman, who lived in that neck of the woods during the first quarter of the 19th century, saying that public officers were bribed with bottles of beer. The book, unfortunately, doesn't give any details about the beers. I wonder where they were from (England, I would bet), and what sort of beers they were, Porter, Pale Ale? The mentioning of bottles really caught my attention because I find it hard to believe that the beers where cr

PF 2010

We had a veeeery quiet New Year's party yesterday. At home, sitting watching the telly (there was some really good live music on ČT2) drinking some beers, eating very little (I had prepared a really wicked guláš for dinner, but we went to visit a very good friend of us who stuffed us with some really wicked roasted goose, so we weren't hungry. Doesn't matter, the guláš will be today's lunch). We had put Nela to sleep at around seven, but she woke up in a very good mood some time after 11. She wanted to celebrate with us and see the fireworks. She loved them, you should have seen her face. We welcome the new year with a bottle of Mikkeller Draft Bear , an (Ron is going to love this) "Imperial Pilsner" with 8% ABV. It tasted a bit like Jihlavský Grand with American hops (Amarillo and Cascade). In a way, this first beer of the decade pretty much sums up what I hope 2010 will be: nice, interesting, with a few bits to make it more fun, satisfying, but not very su