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Showing posts from October, 2011

Bamberger Rindfleisch

When Cuketka.cz published this recipe for beef with wheat beer, the most read Czech food blogger reminded me about an idea that had been going around my mind for quite some time, to try to make something like Beef Bourguignon, but with beer instead of wine.

Unlike the above linked recipe, I hadn't thought of using wheat beer, but a dark smoked one (hence the name, because I am that creative, yeah) and I must say it was better than lovely.

This is an easy recipe, great for a weekend. It doesn't need too much time to prepare and once you put the thing in the oven you can leave it alone until it's almost ready.

It's better for it to use a cheap cut of beef, it will roast for a couple of hours, so it should be really tender and, also, the fattier the meat, the tastier the sauce will be.

One of the ingredients is celeriac, which is a common root vegetable here, but I don't know how easy it can be to get in other countries. If you can't find it or can't be arsed …

Magnetic Beer

That's the name of the new category I've made up. Yes, I know, it's probably silly, redundant and pointless, but let me explain anyway.

Picture this scenario. You go to one of those pubs that has a more or less extensive beer list. Among the day's offer you find some old favourites, something you have long wanted to drink again and a couple of new things. Eventually, you order one of those new beers, but, being a proper beer-hyperactive, even before getting your pint you are already thinking about which beer you'll order next (if you haven't decided already that this will be your last of the session). However, without even having drunk half the glass, you are already looking forward to getting a new one. The beer won't let you go. The others are still there, you know it, you haven't forgotten them, but there's no way you can leave this one you are drinking. You end up drinking several more pints than planned and only a major dose of willpower helps …

Open letter

To the Chief Editors of the Spanish speaking, non specialised media

Dear sirs,

I am an enemy of censorship of any kind, I strongly believe that everyone should have the right say anything that crosses their mind regardless of how moronic, nonsensical or wrong it might be and as long as they are willing to bear the consequences should the said thing turns out to be slanderous or offensive. However, after reading this piece of rubbish (SP) published last Sunday in the Murcia edition of La Verdad, I am left with no choice but to plead from the bottom of my heart and with a tear rolling down my cheek that you refrain from publishing any more articles that deal, at least superficially or tangentially, with technical aspects of beer or brewing. Not only because they disrespect the noble trade of beer making, but also because they disrespect all of your readers, regardless of how little or much interest or knowledge they have in or about the topic.

The above linked article is just another ex…

Names and categories, their importance or lack thereof

The other day I wento to Zlý Časy for a couple of pints. As usual, I opened the session with a good ležák (Tambor 11º, which was more than lovely) to quench my thirst and see what else the other 23 taps had to offer.

While chatting with a couple of the patrons I decided that Žamberk's Sametový Ale would be my next beer (not before seriously considering ordering another pint of Tambor or perhaps one of Mahr's Kellerbier).

Handsome beer it was, it looked very nice in its nonic. A finger-thick, creamy, slightly tanned head, the beer itself, a polotmavý amber colour. Pity I didn't have my camera. But when I got my nose close to the glass, it's "Aleness" wasn't so clear anymore, I got the distinctive clove notes of a weizen, while the flavour reminded me of a dampfbier. The "Sametový" thing was spot on, though. It had a nice, velvety texture ("samet" in Czech means velvet). Far from an Ale, in my books, but far from boring at the same time.…

Knock-off pivo

It's well known that it's not too difficult to find imitations of famous and horribly over-priced brands of clothes and accessories (by the way, I don't know who's the biggest fool, someone who buys a 2000EU handbag or someone who buys a knock-off of said handbag because they want to pretend they can afford such thing). I've also read about knock-off wines, you know, plonk that is given a label of a well known (and perhaps horribly overpriced) chateau this or that (there was a great Benny Hill gag with that), but this is the first time I've heard about knock-off beer.

According to the news, customs and police last week arrested a gang that was doing just that.

Česká Televize gives a bit more detail on their news broadcast. It seems this gang was sourcing the beer from a small local brewery and selling it under well known brands.

The authorities haven't released the names of either the brewer or the brands that were affected. They have said, though, that one …

Prague's best according to experts

IN, a lifestyle magazine that comes out with the Wednesday Edition of Hospodářské Noviny, one of the most important newspapers in the Czech Rep., has published a list with the 10 best places to have a beer in Prague.

This ranking was put together with the help of a jury of 15 personalities. Each one of them was asked to send their own Top 10, which should consider the condition and quality of the beers, regardless of brands, price or business model, as well as other reasons why they like them, with the food being left out of the equation.

Based on those lists, Tomáš Wehle, the author of the article, ordered the ranking assigning points to each hospoda with the following system: 6 points for each first place, 5 for each second, 4 for each third, 3 for each fourth, 2 for each fifth, and 1 for each sixth to tenth places.

I don't usually give much relevance to most Top X lists, but this one is a bit different because I was one of the members of the jury. I can't even begin to expl…

A British surprise

I roam the streets of Prague a lot and, as you all know, I like stopping here and there for a quick pint and that's why I have a very good mental map of the location of the toilets where I can offload those beers without having to pay for the privilege.

Marks & Spencer's branch in Vaclavák is one of those places. The loos are on the top floor, by the coffee shop, in the food and beverage dept. One day, about two months ago, I went there in quite a hurry and, as usual, I didn't bother to look too much around.

Once the call of nature had been answered, just when I was coming out of the toilets, something made me look down to my left. I don't know what it was, perhaps something I had seen on the way in, but not quite noticed. There they were, almost hidden on the bottom shelf, in a dark corner of the wine section, bottles of beer! And not the usual imported, or pseudo-imported, rubbish you find at most supermarkets, but stuff from M&S's own line of beers. I cou…

Selected Readings: August - September

I've been given a break from this project I'm working on, so I wanted to use it to catch up with this section, which this time spans two months, lucky you!

For reasons I'm not aware of and can't be arsed with finding out, at some point in history someone decided that one day in August was going to be "IPA Day". I like drinking a good IPA as much as the next beer geek and I don't need any special date for that, but if this "holiday" motivates authors like Martyn Cornell to publish some good stuff on the topic, then I'm all for it. And a pretty good post it is, one that tries for the upteenth time tries to kill some of the myths of this style's history.

A few days later, and related to it, another great beer historian, Ron Pattison, speaks about the style, but from another perspective, bringing to the table what he calls "IPA inflation", or how some of those "this or that IPA" that seem to be such a hit among brewers ar…

The Globalised Terroir

Joe, the Thirsty Pilgrim, is again talking about this terroir and beer thing, something I'm not a fan of, really.

At first I saw in it just another nonsensical parallel forcibly drawn between beer and wine, but after reading a bit more about it, I realised that the thing goes further than that. However, and although some of their arguments are quite solid, I get the impression that the "terroirists" (the similarity with "terrorist" is entirely casual) are not taking into account some of the fundamental aspects of the very nature of beer, and they are nothing new, they've always been there.

It is true that wine and beer have many things in common, but at the same time, they are enormously different (and no, I'm not talking about the bollocks of wine = pretentious+snobbish, beer=the everyman's drink. Beer can be as pretentious and snobbish as wine, and wine can be as much the everyman's drink as beer, if the people that sell and talk about it so …