28 Sep 2012

You learn something new every day


The other day I attended the official opening ceremony of Břevnovský Pivovar at the namesake monastery. A nice do, I must say, with the Prior blessing the brewery, and the beers, of course, and a few friends who made the afternoon even more enjoyable, there are few pleasures in this life that are bigger than a friendly chat paired with excellent beers, and the beers from Břevnov are top-notch.

Their světlý ležák, in my opinion, already ranks among the best you can drink in this country. It's completely different from any other I've drunk before. There's the classic, wonderful, sexy malty body of a proper Czech pale lager (bless decoction for that), but this one is almost bursting with notes of mint and something that reminds me of chewing a sage leaf, in between those two there's some fruit that my friend Evan Rail described as that bit of a peach that is by the stone, thought it could also be described a not fully ripe apricot. It gives the beer a truly unique character and I'd been always intrigued as to what it was. With its creator, Jan Šuráň, present, this was the best chance to find out.

"It's the hops", he said with some excitement even before I was able to finish the question. They are Saaz, or Žatecký Poloraný Červenák, as they are called here, but they come from a hopyard near Louny that is 70 years old. He explained what the difference between those hops and all the rest is with some technical details that I understood, but I've since forgotten.

It was the first time I've heard about the age of the hopyard having any effect on the characteristics of our favourite aromatic herb, I found it fascinating and it made me realise how much there is out there about beer that I still don't have much of a clue about, and I just love that!

Anyway, before I leave, let me share with you some words the Prior said in his blessing, not an actual quote, but it went something like this:
"Beer is a good thing. It brings people together and always in good will."
Wise words from a man who seems to love his tipple.
Photo: Evan Rail
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12 comments:

  1. "Decoction is not necessary because modern malts are so much more modified."

    No, I don't believe that bullshit either, it does something to the beer which it so intangible yet so magnificent.

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    1. It's not so intangible, actually. Šuráň told me that though lab analyses would say that a non-decocted Pils is the same as a decocted one, tests show that the decocted one has a considerably higher drinkability. It simply tastes better...

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  2. given that taste is entirely subjective, then the difference is by definition intangible. Either way, a decocted lager, in my experience, is always better than a non-decocted. Not to say you can't make a decent lager without it, but elevating it to greatness requires the investment in decoction.

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    1. Actually, there is a tangible thing. Šuráň told me about it, what sort of stuff decoction produces that infusion doesn't. They make a difference in the taste...

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  3. I really want to visit this place!

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  4. PIVNIZUB : Two things are not really clear after reading Your article: What kind of decoction mash is used? Single, classical double or triple as they use to do at Prazdroj?
    Is it right, that the brewery was officially opened and not an associated tap-room? When I visited the brewery this summer, there was only a bottle shop on the premises (and the indipendent Klasterni Senk a few steps away).

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    1. Double decoction (or so I think I've heard). And yes, the brewery hasn't got a taproom, and it's not likely it'll have it. There are facilities for tastings and small private events, though.

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  5. I think that beer just went high up on my list of must-tries. In less than a month!

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