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Showing posts from August, 2011

Quite an improvement

On the home page of his excellent blog, Appellation Beer, Stan Hieronymus presents his "New Beer Rules", a Decalogue that everyone should pay attention to.

I must admit that I hardly ever follow rule #3"You must drink at least two servings of a beer before you pass judgment on it.". Just like the rest, this rule makes a lot of sense, but in my reality, if a beer has failed to impress me it's very difficult that I will want to drink it again. Why bother when there's so much and so good to choose from?

Such was the case with Merlin, the flagship dark beer of K Brewery, which, according to them, is Stout inspired and brewed with an adjunct of roasted barley. I drank it shortly after it had been launched, during my first visit to Kopyto, in Žižkov. I didn't like it, and I never thought of drinking it again, until the other day.

I was near Jiřího z Poděbrad when I was caught by one of those annoying storms that were such a pain in the arse during the first h…

Disappointment in Žatec

Last week I made a visit to Žatec, the city that is perhaps the heart of Czech beer, since it gives its name to one of the most famous and appreciated kinds of hops, Saaz (thus is the town's name German). It was a business trip, actually, and I visited the Hops Museum and the Hops Institute, where I had a chat with the bloke in charge of the research brewery that operates there. Both visits and the people I met were very interesting and gave me quite a lot of material for my next article in Bar&Beer.

Of course that I didn't miss the local brewpub, U Orloje, which is located right next to the museum and is adjoined to the visitors' centre of Chrám Chmele a Piva (The Temple of Hops and Beer - the moniker adopted by the region).
It's a very nice place inside, modern, but with some soul. They also have a very pleasant and rather big beer garden that could be a lot nicer if they had those long, wooden tables with benches that I believe should be mandatory for every beer …

Short news

I've been quite busy lately, so all the great topics I have in the pipeline will have to wait a bit longer, but I still wanted to share with you some of the things that I've been doing.

I was with my family in Český Kumlov last weekend. I don't think I need to tell you what a great town Krumlov is, on the other hand, I believe the prices are worth mentioning. We sat for a drink and dinner by the river, almost below the castle's beautiful tower and while we were watching the rafters go by we drank at one place Bernard and at another Regent Černý and we also had lunch on the terrace the Café of the Municipal Theatre, which has one of the most beautiful views of Prague. At all places, the food was pretty good, the service was very friendly and the beers (always in good condition) were always around 35CZK a pint. Great value, but not nearly as much as the 29CZK I paid for a pint of Eggernberg Nakouřený Švihák at a kiosk right within the Castle's grounds! And it was rea…

High IBU year

The news has been covered by newspapers and TV, the 2011 harvest of Saaz hops is extraordinarily good, or maybe too good, if farmers are to be believed. The price of the prized aromatic herb has dropped so low that many of them warned that they would rather not even pick it.

So, breweries from all over the world and of all sizes, forget your Citra, Sorachi Ace, Nelson Sauvin, Amarillo and other faddish, transatlantic and antipodean hops. Get in touch with your dealers and buy a good fuckload of Žatecký Porloranní červeňák or Premiant at Lidl-like prices. And before any of you comes saying "But, mate! How can I brew my super double-triple barrel aged Imperial Indian Whatever with Saaz?" Buy a bottle of DeMolen Hel & Verdoemenis, which comes with 99IBU squeezed out of Premiant and Hellertau hops (and it's a bloody kick-ass beer, at least when two years old, great to celebrate a special day) or have a go at brewing something more subtle, yet flavourful, you know, the ki…

On the piss in Franconia (Day 3)

Click here if you want to know what happened the first day

Click here if you want to know what happened the second day

I woke up shortly after... Well I don't after when. This time it was not my bladder that got me out of bed, but something a bit more urgent and a lot less negotiable.

The digestive Chernobyl that followed forced me to leave the room in search of something that resembled fresh air. I felt awful. The head was alright, but my stomach felt as if it was floating in a mix of ink and burnt frying oil. Nothing that a good dönner kebab, an espresso and a cold beer couldn't sort out.

At ten we left the hotel, put our bags in the bus and went for lunch. Daša had arranged for us a visit to Brauerei Kraus, in Hirschaid. It turned out to be a very pretty place. The brewery itself had nothing remarkable about it, but the complex that surrounded it did. It included a place for private parties, a beautiful beergarten, a hotel and a restaurant.
The brewery has been property of th…

Friday morning musings

I might be exaggerating, and if that is the case, I apologise beforehand, but some things that I've lately read here and there, wich together with a few e-mails I've received these days, have started to give me the impression that there are not few brewers who are making styles instead of beer and, what's even worse, they seem to make them so they can participate in competitions.

The other day the magazine All About Beer, published an article titled "Rediscovering Pils". A pretty good piece, until the last page (electronic version) where once again we are served the bollocks of "Imperial Pils" (and even Double Pils is mentioned), a new pseudo style that is actually not that new. As I often do with stuff I find interesting, I linked this article on my Facebook page, making my opinion about this style nonsense very clear.

But there was someone who came out in defense of all this, a micro brewer from Argentina, who said:
"The thing is that if I make a…

On the piss in Franconia (Day 2)

Click here if you want to know what happened the first day

I woke up sometime after eight. Or rather, I was woken up by my bladder and it was already late to try to negotiate with it. I went out in search of breakfast (it was not included and I didn't want to pay the 12EU the hotel wanted for it). Unfortunately, there weren't any bierstübe or biergarten open around so I had to make do with a bakery and coffee shop (great pretzel, pretty good croissant, crap coffee).

With something at least a bit solid in my guts I started walking around, following my feet. After a few minutes I remembered what we had been told the day before, that everything in Germany, except bakeries and petrol stations, is closed on Sundays (civilised bunch these Germans). I changed my course to the Getränkemarkt that was near the hotel.

What a wonderful thing a Getränrkemarkt is. This one in particular was supermarket sized and full of booze. And, of course, they had an impressive range of regional beers.…

Spreading ignorance

Mariano Braga is a sommelier from Argentina who keeps a very interesting wine blog. Not long ago he added to it a new section called "Miércoles de Cerveza" and you know what? It's not bad at all! Specially if you consider that its goal is to open the minds of an oenophile audience.

It's evident that Mariano takes things seriously and, more importantly, has respect for his readers, and that's why, instead of talking about a topic he might not know so well, he left the section in charge of his brother Marcelo, himself a micro brewer.

Unfortunately, Mariano seems to be an exception among wine specialists, many of whom don't have any issue with spewing nonsense about something they know fuck all about, like beer. Such is the case with José Tomás, a Spanish oenologist and sommelier, who in this article can be read saying (from the original in Spanish):
"One of the types of beer, the 'lager' (with a lower fermentation) 'are very dry in the mouth'…

On the piss in Franconia (Day 1)

Even though my 40th birthday is still two weeks away, I already got a kickass present (what? You haven't sent yours yet? What are you waiting for?), an invitation to spend a weekend in Franconia, Germany, that had the Annafest as its main program.

The Annafest is a huge beer festival that is held every year at the end of July in what is known as the Kellerwald, a word that can be translated as "cellar forest". It's a forested hill in the outskirts of Forscheim (a very pretty small town) where the local breweries have their "keller", deep cellars dug in the rock, where they traditionally lager their beers. There are five or six that are open year round, but during the festival their number grows to more than 20 and the local breweries are joined by several others from the region. As expected, there is also music, on six stages, amusement park attractions, fast-food stands, etc.

The tour had been organised by Pivo, Bier & Ale and we are 15 people in the g…

Selected Readings: July

Yeah, yeah, we are already in August and like most of you, I can't believe it. Time flies when you are having fun, and July has left us with plenty of fun things to read.

The journey begins actually with a glass of wine. From England, Fiona Beckett writes a critic to wine critics, where she brings attention to the poor ethics, if not downright corruption, that seems to be common among many of her colleagues. After reading it I was left wondering if that couldn't happen with beer. With the increasing importance many people are giving to blogs and how much we all like getting free samples or being invited to events, can it be that some of us are more lenient towards some brewers/distributors because we want to keep on drinking for free? What is the right thing to do when a free sample we got to review in our blogs turns out to be crap? Food for thought.

On a lighter note, but still on the wine topic the Argentine food blog Fondo de Olla publishes a funny rant about the bollocks …