Tweet I was going to publish a review of Spanish beers, but that would have been two reviews in the same week, so I decided to leave it for later. So we'll have to make do with a compilation of news, some of them not so new.
I've given up all pretense of keeping up with the openings of new brewpubs. How many have there been so far this year, 10? It's amazing. I have tasted the beers of several, though, and there's a bit of everything, from the ones from Mutějovice, which I found on the wrong side of average, to Černý Orel from Kroměříž, a Baltic Porter-like dark beer, that was really, really good.
The ones I can (barely) keep up with are the brewpubs from Prague.
Finally Jihoměstský Pivovar is living up to its name. Since sometime last month the beers you can drink there are brewed on site and at least the three or four varieties I've tasted make going "do Háje" really worth it.
Closer to the centre, in Nusle, U Banstehu, besides being now 100% non smoking (great!) have already started working with their new and very modern equipment that, I reckon, doubles their capacity. The old pots have made their way to the centre of Prague, to U Dvou Koček, which is already brewing, or should I say "again"? If the claim that this pub has been open since the 17th century is true, then it is very likely that, just like many other šenky in town, they were brewing their own beer until perhaps the late 19th century. I was there like two months ago, when they had just started tapping the first batches. Nothing to write home about, really, perhaps they needed some adjustments in the recipes. However, other people that've been there since have told me they liked those beers a lot, and at 32CZK a pint in the centre, there's not much we can complain about.
"Ejls" and other top fermented goodies
I was in Varnsdorf two weeks ago, visiting Pivovar Kocour to gather material for my next article for Bar&Beer. What I found there was, well, almost a construction site. Besides the some day to be opened restaurant, they were finishing with the installation of some new equipment that will double their current capacity. The star is the set of mashing tun and kettle, literally a museum piece. It looks beautiful, it's over half a century old and it's made of copper. The kettles you see at most Czech brewpubs are actually stainless steel encased in copper, this one is the real deal. One of the owners told me that the plan is to use that additional capacity for the specials and top fermented beers. They want to be able to brew V3, Weizenbock and some of the Ales on a permanent basis and not just whenever the lagers so allow.
Another micro that is brewing some really good top fermented stuff is Pivovar Matuška. To their heavenly Weizen this father and son team have added the wonderful Raptor IPA, the very good California (not to be confused with Bravur's California Pale Ale, that one was nasty) and their newest one, Sahara. A fantastic beer brewed with rice, malted and unmalted barley, Saaz and Cascade hops and packing a lot of flavour despite having only 7ºPlato y 2,9%ABV!. A great summer drink, really.
Another great summer drink is Nuselské Bilé (2010 ed.). Just like last year, Zlý Časy commissioned a seasonal brew. Once again, the recipe was Wit inspired, but this time they added a new ingredient, elderflower (they used actual flowers, hand picked in the countryside). The resulting beer is very aromatic, very refreshing and with a lot of drinkability thanks in part to its 11ªplato and 3.8%ABV.
Inspired by Zlý Časy, První Pivní Tranwaj, also decided they would have their own beer, Tranwaj 11%, an Ale based on a recipe by Honza Šuran that includes oats, American hops and Scottish yeasts. Very nice, interesting and well balanced even with a couple of rough edges.
And since we are talking about Yanks. Chirs Baerwaldt, an American home brewer who's been living here for quite some time has started to brew commercially under the name of Pivovar Zhůřák. His beers have already been seen at several hospody in Prague. I've only tasted Total Eclipse Black Ale , which get both thumbs up.
The Vikings have landed!
The other day I sent an e-mail to Mike, owner of Odd Dog, to see how he was doing. Very well, he had just come back from a trip to Norway and Denmark from which he came loaded with news, delicious news: Nøgne-Ø, Mikkeller, Nørrebro and Amager in an impressive range. The beers are available for purchase either on Odd Dog's e-shop or at Pivoteka Zlý Časy.
So many good news!
PS: It's nice to see some brewers using imported hop varieties. I just hope this will not en just in the American ones that they will start using British, German, etc. varieties as well.
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