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Showing posts from June, 2010

A star is born...

So, let's see... I write for a Spanish magazine and the other day I sent an article (the fist of many, I hope) for an upcoming Czech beer magazine. I've been interviewed for an article in a Norwegian magazine, for the new edition of Lonely Planet - Prague guidebook, and also for the Spanish service of Czech Radio. What am I missing? Oh yeah, TV!

Clase Turista is a travel show on an Argentine TV channel. It's got a nice twist, instead of sending a camera and a celebrity to show not much more than the postcards of a given city, they contact Argentines that live there and tour it with them, seeing it through their eyes while talking about their lives.

One of the hosts for the Prague episode was me, and here you have it (in Spanish, sorry).

Of course, not everything was about beer. We shot the whole day and the experience was for me very interesting and a lot of fun. The most impressive thing, however, was the response from people. The show aired last Wednesday, late in the eveni…

In Praise of Simplicity

Anyone who follows this blog knows that I like strong, complex, weird, extra hoppy, extreme beers as much as the next power BeerRater. My favourite, however, are the simple ones, those with ABV's from from low to average. The kind of beer I drink every day, that waits for me in the fridge, that is great company while watching the World Cup, that is a lubricant of those meetings with friends or that simply quenches my thirst after working on the garden.

There are some people who will tell you that saying that a beer is "simple" is to put it down. That's not true, "simple" doesn't mean "boring", it just means the opposite to "complex". To me, there are few things more satisfactory than a "simple and tasty" pint. Unfortunately, there are many out there who believe that if a beer isn't "complex, intense or challenging" it's almost not worth the bother, and that is why extreme, etc. beers receive such a dispropo…

God Save the (Real) Ale II

Mi friend John, from England, was back in Prague for a short holiday a couple of months ago. Just like last time, we met for lunch, in this opportunity joined by his two friends, themselves beer enthusiasts. We had some good fun, talked at length, had several beers (the IPA from I don't remember whether Koucour or Matuška made a pretty good impression among these experienced Ale, etc. drinkers). Just like last time, I received some samples of RAIB's (Real Ales in Bottle), all in beautiful bottles and all, with the exception of Fuller's 1845, very sessionable, with an ABV below 5%. (BTW, I was really glad to receive another bottle of 1845, I loved it last year).
To start, I opened Barnstormer, a Dark Bitter brewed by Bath Ales. I would love to tell you more about its bouquet. At first, I thought it was the beer that didn't have much to offer, but after going through these and other Ales. etc. I came to the conclusion that the nonic glass, though pretty nice and comfortab…

It hurts!

Beer consumption in the Czech Republic has declined, last year by 5%. Of course, this doesn't amuse the macros very much, but I reckon the must have assumed that this is something out of their control; after all, there is a crisis to which we should add demographic and lifestyle changes of consumers.

What it must really hurt them a lot is that while their production volumes have dropped, those of several regional breweries have enjoyed considerable growth, as I pointed out some months ago. In other words, not only people are drinking less, but there is a growing number among them that are buying alternative brands. And that is something the suits that run these companies can't accept. How can you explain otherwise, that all of a sudden, and almost simultaneously, all of the three multinational groups that operate in the Czech Rep. have decided to launch new products, which, curiously, aren't direct competitors, but seem to complement each other.

We have that Heineken has pre…

More pork

Carrying on with my series of my recipes that aim to clog the arteries of my readers (and also, because everyone seems to be watching the World Cup) I wanted to share something I came up with that was inspired by a great looking recipe published by Logia Cervecera the other day (in SP).

Vepřový Bok na Nakouřenem Pivu (Side of pork in Smoked Beer)
Ingredients:

750g side of pork (you know, the cut that after curing and smoking becomes bacon)
500ml smoked beer
2-3 garlic cloves
Plenty of  fresh thyme, rosemary, sage and a couple of bay leafs
1 tbsp. cumin
1 tbsp. paprika powder
A few beans of cayenne pepper
Salt and pepper

With a very sharp knife cut a few incisions on top part of the meat (the thick, fatty one) and salt it. In a bowl add the spices, herbs and garlic cloves cut in half or crushed by hand. Add then half of the beer and mix. Put the meat into the mix, cover and take it to the fridge to marinade for several hours or overnight. Pour the rest of the beer in a glass and sip it …

Who let the dog in?

Besides the interesting growth and success of some of the regional brewers and the boom of the micro breweries, all while beer consumption in the Czech Republic has declined, another segment that has seen an increase in sales are the imported beers. And I mean quality beers, most of them brewed by micro, regional or independent breweries, and not aberrations like Corona, Desperados and Foster's. Their market share and sales volume might still be rather insignificant, but there are more and more people interested in new and different stuff and they seem to be willing to pay a relatively high price for it.

For already a few years the company ACSAY has been working quite well with a solid portfolio of Belgian brews, that seem to find a new outlet every day. The success of Zlý Časy with their, mostly, American specialties has been remarkable, they pretty much sold out in a couple of months, without prices being much of a factor.

And now, with the addition of Odd Dog things are getting r…

Is the crisis a blessing for the regionals?

One of the questions I asked Max Munson, owner of Jáma during an interview I had with him a couple of months ago was why he had decided to change the beer supplier after a decade long relationship with Plzeňský Prazdroj.

After making clear that the people from Pilsen had always been very good business partners, and that the decision had been by no means influenced by anything they did wrong , he told me that the main factor for the change had been the crisis.

As many other restaurant owners, Max was doing the impossible to keep his head above water, which means cutting down costs. One day he was visited by a representative of K Brewery Group. Max didn't feel like talking to him/her at first, but then he remembered the first edition of the Czech Beer Festival, where he was part of the organisation. He saw first hand the huge success the regional breweries had, to the point that some of them had to be moved to the tents of the macros so they wouldn't be so empty.

To make it short, …

Sporting Wood

What nasty weather we've been having the last few weeks! It almost looks like Autumn. The worst day of the lot was last Wednesday, when it rained pretty much the whole day. When I left early in the morning I didn't think of taking a raincoat, let alone an umbrella, and all I had on me was a t-shirt and a sweater (besides jeans and shoes, your pervs!).

The walk between the bus stop and my house was miserable. After having managed to dry a bit during the trip, I got soaked to the bones again. But still, I was in a rather good mood, I'd had a good day at work and fancied drinking a special beer. The weather called for something strong, rich and very dark. Fortunately, I had several barrel and wooden aged dark beers in my cellar.

By the time I got home I had already made up my mind: Espresso Oak Aged Yeti Imperial Stout from Great Divide Brewing Co.. With that name and a respectable 9.5%ABV, I know I couldn't go wrong.

It had reached me, together with two more samples of new …