25 May 2012

A few quick reviews (II)


In view of the enormous success the first edition was (and because I can't be arsed with writing anything else today), here's another roundup of short reviews originally posted on my Facebook Page.

When was the last time I had Kocour Stout? I can't remember, but fuck it's good! And it goes wonderful with a well cured italian Provolone cheese.

Badass = A girl minding her own business while casually drinking a 16º Czech IPA straight from a 1l PET bottle

Evan Rail's Dark Saison: A drunken band of young, jazz raising stars who suddenly realise they must play together instead of pissing about with their instruments. And very well they play.

Nomád Black (IPA). Ristretto, bitter chocolate, pine, nettle, autumn fruit and a touch of prunes that manage to work surprisingly well together...
Slaný Nakouřovaná 13º. A tad too polite of a rauch, perhaps, but quite a nice tipple nonetheless...

Harrach Kouřový Speciál: Imagine you are kissing the neck of a krev a mléko Slavic beauty who's spend the last hour grilling the nicest cuts of pork for you and you'll get an idea of what this rauchbier is like.

Krakonoš 10°, bottled: I'm in a good mood so I'd just say "not good" (and I'm in a very good mood)
Not true to style? I don't give a flying fuck. Not as good as the 1.0? True, but who cares if you can't drink that one. The fact is that Jubiler Amber IPA is a bloody fine tipple for a sunny afternoon like this....
Starting the "getting slowly pissed al fresco" season with Rohozec 11º. Technical purists might not like it too much, but its almost rustic edge is something I can enjoy, specially sitting in the sun on my terrace.... (wouldn't mind having a whole keg of it, though my wife might)
On assignment: Fuller's Past Masters XX. The kind of beer that can inspire poets, can generate the wildest hyperboles and metaphors, yet the best way to describe it is "Fuck me! What a good beer!"

Fuller's Past Master's Double Stout = Beergasm...

Yeah.... Pardubický Porter. A quiet gentleman that always has something interesting to say if you are willing to listen.

St. Peter's Smokie. My first Peated Beer. It wasn't love at first sip, but I ended up liking it, a lot. Perhaps the orange peel kindofthing note in the background helped a lot.

Great Divide Smoked Baltic Porter: A prune soaked in rum, wrapped in a thick stripe of lean, top quality bacon, lightly coated in mildly bitter chocolate and a few specks of ground coffee.... YUM! (I bit less carbonation wouldn't have hurt, though)...

And just to wrap things up, remember. There are only three beer categories: "I like", "I dislike" and "I don't quite like, but don't quite mind drinking". All the rest are (more or less sensible) sub-categories...

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23 May 2012

10 years


On May 19, 2002 I took an Air France flight to Paris, which would later connect me to another AF flight, operated by Czech Airlines, that would leave me in Prague the following day at around 7PM. 10 years have passed since that event, the most significant one in my life, bar none.

I wanted to celebrate this anniversary my way, drinking a beer that would fit the moment. I meditated long on which it should be. The ideal would have been to find a 2002 vintage beer, but that turned out to be out of the question. Having come to terms with that, I thought that I could celebrate with more than one beer, each with their meaning, including a truly special one that I had never drunk before. Here they are.
Gambrinus Světlý, canned: It was the first beer I drank after getting off the plane, so it belonged there. I won't lie and tell you that I remember what the beer was like then, but on Saturday Gambáč was exactly what I was expecting, no more, no less.

Svijanský Rytíř: My epiphanic beer. I might not be writing this if it hadn't been for this pale lager that is still among my favourites. As reliable, trustworthy and great company as an old mate.

Tambor Tmavý Speciál: I spotted it by chance and I liked the rather fucked up label. It represents one the one hand some of the hangovers I've had and on the other that not everything has been very pretty these 10 years. The beer, like drinking the juice of brownies baked with bitter chocolate and not too much sugar.

Myrica Gale: From the Welsh Mws Piws, brewed with bog myrtle. A present from my Welsh friend Dave. It represents the selfless generosity that I found when arriving here, something I was not very used to. Delicious, incredibly interesting and makes me wonder why the fuck there aren't more beers brewed with this herb.

Boogoop: A collaboration of Mikkeller and 3 Floyds, brewed at De Proef, Belgium. When I saw it at Pivkupectví I realised that it was the beer I'd been looking for. Just like when I decided to move here, I had half certainties. Everything I had drunk so far from Mikkeller had been good (though sometimes not wonderful), but I'd never had anything from 3 Floyds (though I had good references). The best way to describe it is "LOUD". It is like the first demo of a young rock band, who, despite not bringing anything new to the scene, with the guide of an able producer, they could still kick some ass. Just like my moving to Prague, it was far from cheap and there was the slight fear that things wouldn't turn out well, which was not the case, fortunately. However, knowing what I know now, would I do all this/buy the same beer again? The answer is "yes", but for only one of them. Guess which?

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16 May 2012

Belated update


The closing of U Slovanské Lípy the other day made me realise that since putting out my book I had not published any update, something I should have done a while a go.

There have been some changes regarding the places that are included in "Prague: A Pisshead's Pub Guide".

Pražský Most u Valšů (p. 27, 40) has had some, mostly, administrative problems and has been forced to stop brewing, which, in my opinion, was the only excuse to visit that place. Fortunately, the other day, not far from there, a new brewpub opened Pivovar U tří růží. I haven't visited it yet, but for what I've heard, it's seems quite good.

Kavárna Meduza (p. 53) closed shortly after the book was published. It's a real shame, I loved that place. It's been replaced by another café that has Bernard, not bad, but far from the same. On the other hand, Dejvická Divadelní Kávarna (pág. 54) replaced Richter's Světlý Ležák for Únětická 12º.

And since we are in Prague 6, Bistro U Baronky (p. 57) has ceased to exist, while Únětická 12º has given me a great reason to go back to U Pětníka (p. 59) with a smile.

In Žižkov, besides the above mentioned change in Lípy (that should open with a new format in about a month, we'll see), the jury is out on Hotel Victor (p. 69), last two times I was there, the beers from Chýně were in terrible condition (the brewery should do something about that).

Already in Letná, U Počtů (p. 93) doesn't stock Černá Hora Kern or Rychtář Natur anymore, and thus has lost any reason I had to visit it. Fortunately, after being closed some time for refurbishing and making me fear the worst, Kovaldina U Lázní (p. 92) reopened without any major change, o, it could be said, improved. They've done away with Urquell and the freed tap has been taken over by small brewers like Kocour or Matuška.

Last but not least, I'm still hearing and reading complaints about the condition of some of the beers at Prague Beer Museum (p. 109). I really want this bar to improve so if you happen to be there and happen to get a duff pint, return it, explain what's wrong with it, and order another one. If enough people do that, perhaps the owners will finally sort their shit out.

And that's it, the rest of the changes have been for the better. There are lots of new places like this one or these two, or perhaps this one and let's not forget about this one and this one, just to mention some of the ones I've reviewed here.

But putting all the above aside, Prague: A Pisshead's Pub Guide is still an awesome book, a must have for anyone who's planning to visit the Golden City and a cracking read for those who aren't, and I'm not saying this just because I happen to be the author. Buy it here (if you do it before 18/5 you can get a 20% discount by entering the code TENYEAR) or in Amazon UK, Amazon US and other local Amazon "branches" (paper version only).

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14 May 2012

Epic Weekend


Just like I told you the other day, last weekend I went with my family to Kostelec nad Černými lesy with the festival, or celebration, as main excuse. We had a fantastic time, pity the weather that was on the wrong side of crappy, but there's nothing you can do about it.

We arrived on a very warm Friday evening. We were accommodated in the dorm that belongs to the local branch of the National Agricultural University, a building from the 18th century that used to be a orphanage and a hospice. The rooms were rather spartan, but very comfortable, more than adequate to crash for a couple of nights.

Once we had left our stuff in the room, we went to the Pivovar. Jarin, who had invited us, was waiting there, together with Milan Starec, one of the owners and a very nice guy. The pub is beautiful, it reminded a bit to those rural pubs in Franconia. The walls are full of treasures, old adverts of bygone beers, photos and documents from the times when Černokostelecký Pivovar was still brewing (in the golden years it had a volume of up to 70,000 hl a year and was the biggest in Central Bohemia). The atmosphere was great. We shared a table with a couple who were also on a visit and spent much of the dinner talking with them.
Shortly after we had sat Jarin came back with two pints of his very own Jantár, one of those rather shy beers, that need a bit of time to open up and show its subtle beauty, delicious. I knocked down two while I wolfed a massive řízek with potato salad (the good reputation of this pub's kitchen is well deserved).
After eating like cavemen (even my daughter managed to eat most of a řízek bigger than her head) and having a quick chat with Milan, we went to a corner in the courtyard to meet a few friends. There I found Vladimír Černohorský, Brew Master at Únětický Pivovar and an über top bloke. He's 70, has been brewing for more than half a century and he still loves his work and feels he has stuff to learn, a true master and it's an honour to be among his friends.

A while and two pints later I walked my wife and daughter to the hotel, gave each a good night kiss and went back to the brewery. I kept my promise with Milan and had with him a glass of their home made sour cherry liqueur ("a glass", what en euphemism), it was delicious. We had some beer and a few words. The beer, tapped in a 1.5l copper tankard, was Bešťák, the Světlý Ležák brewed for the event, a pale lager with an attitude that could have spent a week or two more in the cellar, but was still very nice.

Milan had to get back to work so, tankard in hand, I went back to that corner of the courtyard to live one of those magic beer moments. They were tapping two beers there, the above mentioned Jantár, and Černá Svině, a dark beer also brewed by Jarin. We were all standing around a wooden barrel, talking about old Czech films and books, listening to the brewing stories of Černohorský and one of the other owners of Černokostelecký Pivovar, laughing until our jaws were almost falling, with the copper tankard passing from hand to hand being refilled every time someone wanted to leave. Word can't describe such joy. But the day had been long and I went to bed some time after 11, quite tired but very happy.

When we woke up the next morning I felt as if we had slept months and not hours. Not because of those feelings you sometimes get after spending the night at a foreign place, but because the temperature had dropped by almost 20ºC from the previous afternoon and the sunshine was only a nice memory. We had breakfast at a café in the town's main square, it turned out to be really beautiful, my wife and daughter loved it, a liked it, too, but was eager to go to the Pivovar.
Needless to say, there weren't many people, it was still early and the weather wasn't the kind that makes people say "yeah! let's spend the day getting pissed outdoors!". There were already quite a few familiar faces, though. We each got a beer, mi better half picked Šenvajz, a very much by the numbers weizen that still managed to have enough personality to make it interesting, I picked Mudrlant, a black beauty that I would have sworn was a Stout, if I had drunk it blind. The roasted and the rye malts gave it a lot of character, while the smoked malts had been expertly used like a spice, giving it that extra level of complexity without taking the centre stage.

What I like the most about this kind of events it's not so much the beer or the food (by the way, that fire roasted smoked ham was gorgeous), it's the people. I met a couple of friends whom I hadn't seen for a while, a few of the štamgasty from Zlý Časy and some other colourful characters of the local beer world. It seemed that every time I turned around someone would say hello to me.

The main feature of this festival was the barrel pitching. In the past all beers fermented and matured in wooden barrels and to prevent them from getting in touch with the wood and contaminated, the inside of the barrels was coated in brewer's pitch. As with every other traditional craft, it is fascinating to watch when performed by masters. There was a time when breweries would employ platoons of coopers and pitchers. The pitch had to be replaced periodically and was done even with the biggest casks (in the courtyard there was one with over 800hl capacity). Here they showed how it's done only with smaller barrels, the plan, according to what I heard, is to have them filled with beer.
Which was something we could actually taste. Podkovaň 12º tapped from a barrel that had been pitched a few days before and filled straight from the brewery's lagering tanks. Wonderful! Pitch isn't supposed to add any flavour to the beer, but when this barrel was filled, it was still rather "fresh" and it had given the beer an intriguing aroma.
And to drink it from the copper tankard I mention above was even better.
And that wasn't the biggest tankard of that day.
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Just like the evening before, in the barrel corner, beer and laughter flowed freely while the mastodontic tankards passed from hand to hand. The best word to describe all this is "beauty".
Although the weather wasn't showing any signs of improvement, the place started to get more populated and the atmosphere got livelier. With my wife we took turns to look after our daughter (who also had a cracking day and her fair share of beer, too).
We took one of the tours to the old brewery, or actually, that was the plan, but Nela was having none of it, she wanted to go back to the trampolines and it was my turn to keep an eye on her. Fortunately, later I was able to see the facilities with Milan. The brewhouse is a beauty, it can brew 160hl of wort and they are very likely the biggest (copper) coal or wood fired tun and kettle in Europe, if not the world.
Milan told me they expect to get it to work within a year. The fermenters are basically ready and the works in one of the lagering cellars are already quite advanced, there are only a few details to sort out with the brewhouse proper. The brewery was shut down in 1987, Milan and his partners bought it over 10 years ago with the plan of resurrecting it. All the money they make with the restaurant, etc. goes to this project. The investment in time and effort has been huge. You all know very well what I think of the use and abuse of the word "passion", but I don't think there is another way to describe the thing that motivates these people to do what they are doing. It's true that in the long run this is still a commercial enterprise, but they could have done things a lot easier and faster (and cheaper) by setting a microbrewery with modern gear, keeping the old stuff as museum pieces. I'm sure they would have been very successful, but they chose the longer, harder and riskier road and they deserve respect for that. I can't wait until those old pots start brewing again, I'm sure the beers will be very good, because besides passion and all that, these people really want to do things well.

After having some dinner and leaving my family safe in their bed, I went back to the pub to keep on drinking, talking and having a great time. Tilting a bit to starboard I went to sleep after midnight, feeling happier than a kid at Christmas and already looking forward to going back to Černokostelecký Pivovar, a place everyone should visit some day.
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PS: Many thanks to Jarin and Milan for their hospitality and generosity.

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10 May 2012

Guess where I'm going this Saturday?

I've wanted to go to Černokostelecký Pivovar (which is not a "pivovar" proper, at least not yet) for a long time. Many people have told me about how nice it is and how well you can eat there, but it was one of those many trips that I've always postponed because this or that. Not anymore, the "official" invitation I received for this Saturday's event has given me the best possible excuse.
Vysmolení, to put it in simple words, will be a day of frolicking outdoors. There will be plenty of activities that include live music, visits to the old brewery and the museum, food, lots of food and four beer specially brewed for the occasion: a desítka, a hoppy světlý ležák, a wheat beer and a dark beer with smoked and rye malts (which I can't wait to taste).

I'll be with my family from Friday evening (we've been generously invited to stay the whole weekend). For those who want to go on Saturday, getting there is easy, buses 381 and 387 leave from the Metro Station Háje every hour from 8:00 (you have to get off at Kostelec n.Č.l.,nám. and then walk towards the chateau and keep on walking until you see the place). Entrance is free and there will be stuff to keep the kids entertained while the adults get civilisedly pissed. See you there.

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8 May 2012

Ai-Pee-Ei

In some corners of the beer drinking population IPA is no doubt one of the most popular styles, if not the most. It even seems that in some countries micro breweries are almost legally bound to brew an IPA, if they expect to be taken seriously.

But what is IPA? What does IPA mean? That is the question that a few days ago Boak & Bailey were asking themselves and the one that Ghost Drinker is asking today. All this is somehow related to Greene King IPA, which doesn't quite fit within the idea many people have of IPA (it doesn't get to 4% ABV and it's not very hoppy). The thing is, this beer has been brewed since forever and it doesn't seem to have changed much throughout the decades. Now, if we consider that this beer precedes the modern concept of styles and all the existing American IPA's and the BJCP, then we could say that it is Greene King who are right and everyone else is wrong, but well, let's not go there.

Controversy aside, and referring to what Ron Pattinson said some time ago when he was talking about the inflation of IPA, I believe that IPA has become a label, not too different from "Premium" or, at least in some countries, "Pilsen", something that GK seemes to have understood. It doesn't mean "India Pale Ale" anymore, it's just "IPA" and everyone is free to add descriptor to it, "Black", "White", "Double", etc. and do what they want with the term.

Come to think of it, this is nothing new, "Pale Ale" has always been a bit of a lie. Historically speaking the early, hoppy Pale Ales weren't Ales, but Beers.

And since we are on topic. Isn't IPA going through the same thing as "Stout" did? It started as a descriptor used for (not only) Porters that were stronger than usual. At some point it stopped being and adjective to become a noun and today we have at least half a dozen different styles that have the word "Stout" in their names, all more or less widely accepted and well defined.

But anyway, at the end of the day, the choice of the right words to put on the labels is more a problem of the brewers than of the consumers and if it wasn't for competitions like the World Beer Cup, there would a lot fewer people concerned about alleged taxonomic discrepancies.

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7 May 2012

Selected readings: April

You thought I had forgotten? That I was going to disappoint you? HA! You were wrong.

Since it was posted on April 1, I'm still not quite sure of the veracity of the la "Albino Porter", but I truly hope it was just a joke by Jeff.

What was an April's fool's joke was this press release from Vyškov announcing a new kind of environmentally friendly packaging for their beers. A swing at the PET bottles that are giving so much to talk about. Curiously, a few days later Bernard rolled out the new piece of their campaign Svět se zbláznil. Držte se Bernard (The world is crazy, hold on to Bernard) with a very similar, though more direct message. "Dnes z PETky, zítra z tašky" (Today from PET, tomorrow from bags).

Getting more serious, but not too much, Adrian Tierney Jones posted a beautiful ode to the noble art of getting civilisedly pissed. Brilliant.

Tandleman, on the other hand, deals with the somehow controversial topic of music in the pub. I don't think a pub needs music to have a good atmosphere, but it is a welcome feature specially when I'm having a quite pint early in the afternoon. Either way, if the owners of a pub decide they want to have music, for fuck's sakes get a 21st century stereo that can play MP3 and do not play the radio or MfuckingTV or other similar crap.

In the realm of the technical, Ron Pattinson once again shows how relative style categories can be.

Meanwhile, in the Spanish beer blog, In Birra Veritas, the author speaks of the political implications of craft beer. It's well written and argued, but on pretty weak premise that fails to take into account a number of very important factors. But well, everyone is free to dream their own utopias. Personally, I prefer some beers over others not because of image, status or a political statement, but because I like them more. It turns out that most of those beers are brewed by small and/or independent companies, but that's just a coincidence. Believe me, if I had to choose between a crappy "craft" beer brewed by a hypothetical brewpub in my village and Krušovice, I would happily and without second thought give my money to Heineken, though I would actually be giving it to the hypothetical small company that retails it. (but I think I've already made myself clear on this

The bollocks of the month comes in a double portion. The first bit is a product of the bottomless shitpit of the marketing bollocks a Japanese beer that is dispensed with a frozen head, because yes, why not? The second bit is courtesy of a tourist info web page called Prague.fm and its article The Main beer companies. It's a disaster, they say that (sic) "Měst’an produces the country’s best dark beer" and that Samson is a brand of Bernard (the Spanish version is worse, instead of saying "twelve degree beer" it says "twenty..."). I hope the rest of the information in this site is not of this quality.

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4 May 2012

My beer evolution

I've been a beer drinker since I can remember. It's not hyperbole, is true. When I was little my parents would let me take sips from their beers (tradition that I continue with my own daughter) or mix some of it in my Coke or Pepsi. Our doctor, very sensibly, had assured them that there was nothing wrong with that.

Of course that for someone of my generation in Argentina, beer meant Quilmes. In fact, it was Cevecerías y Malterías Quilmes the company that managed to get Argentinians to drink beer with a brilliant marketing campaign that they started at the beginning of the 80's, which produced one of the best slogans for any beer, ever “El Sabor del Encuentro” (sorry, there's no English translation that does it justice). But that aside, the truth is that I liked Quilmes Cristal, a lot. I still remember fondly the Quilmes I drank with my mates at a takeaway pizzeria or the 1l bottles we passed around sitting on the pavement after an afternoon of playing basketball (quite a refined bunch, we were). I also liked Palermo and Imperial. However, even when I was chugging down gallons of Quilmes Cristal, I wouldn't drink just anything with “beer” on the label, I never liked, for example Brahma Chopp or Biekert Gold (actually, I've always thought the former was shit). On the other hand, I already had a soft spot for dark beers, with the Bocks from Quilmes and, curiously, Brahma among my favourite (and I still remember the ad of the latter, it was excellent, I wish I could find it).

At the beginning of the 90's some shops in the centre and some petrol stations in Buenos Aires started to sell imported beers, mostly cans, from Germany, Holland and the US, among other countries. It didn't take me long to become and avid consumer of these. I was always in search of a new one, but I remember that I had the Germans and Carlsberg among my favourite.

As any middle class Argentine worth his salt back then, I took advantage of the cheap USD (which would eventually ruin our economy) to see the world. I carried with me the habit I had developed with the above mentioned imported beers, and in every country I visited I'd try to drink as many different brands as possible. Of the many that went down my throat, the ones that I remember the most are Monteith's in New Zealand (1996), Toohey's Old and Castlemaine XXXX Bitter, in Australia (1999) and Jever and Salvator in Germany (1999-2000) and I could add Guinness to this list, but back in Buenos Aires, where “oirish Pubs” had it on tap. I loved spending Sunday afternoons at the Kilkenny in Retiro, having a couple of pints (0.4l?) while reading a book and listening to music. I was almost the only patron at that hour and the staff was very nice with me. It was there where I started to enjoy the little great pleasure of drinking alone in a quiet pub (something that I still love to this day).

However, none of those beers was a significant in this story as Isenbeck. It started being brewed under license in Argentina in the middle of the decade and introduced itself with a campaign that leaned heavily on the German Purity Law and its three ingredients. It might have been the marketing, it might have been its arguably better quality, or a combination of both, but already from the very beginning I thought it was far better than Quilmes (in fact, by the end of that decade, I didn't like Quilmes anymore, though I would still drink it if there wasn't any other alternative, or if I was visiting someone). Today I might laugh at the idea that a distorted and misquoted legislative relic from the 16th century can be in any way a guaranty of quality, but the truth is that Isenbeck was the first beer that, at least in a shallow way, made me think about what I was drinking.

These were also the times when I thought that ABV % was in direct proportion to quality, that wheat beer was repulsive and other things along those lines.

My first contact with Czech beer was in 1998, on an Aeroflot flight to Moscow, where I was served canned Pilsner Urquell. I loved it! Later that year, during a Christmas holiday in Vienna with friends, I was also introduced to Budvar and Gambrinus, which I found superior to the local lagers. But Urquell was for me the best and I was lucky to find it in Buenos Aires. There was an oirish pub a couple of blocks from my place that sold it in 0.5l bottles at 5USD, with a 2x1 deal between 3 and 6PM. I went there every afternoon, before the evening lessons I gave at Berlitz (something I still enjoy doing to this day, Berlitzless and, generally, Urquellless and regardless of what time the class might be).

By the time I came to Prague as a tourist, in the last days of 2001, Pilsner Urquell was the best beer in the world, hands down. I will never forget the impression I got at the first pub I visited in this city the evening I arrived. Sklep, in Seifertová. I opened the menu and noticed that half litre of Pilsner Urquell was 20CZK (about 0,6USD at the time), while a 0.3l glass of Coke was 23CZK. I was in heaven! (something I felt more strongly about once I saw the Czech girls in the streets, but that's another story).

I moved to the Czech Republic in may 2002, convinced that all the Czech beers were great and that nobody made beer better than the Czechs. It didn't take me too long to find that the former wasn't quite true and I would later realise that the idea that there is a “best beer in the world” is bollocks. Anyway, I drank several litres a day with Gambrinus and Staropramen making the bulk of that considerable consumption.

2005 was my year of epiphany. I discovered Svijany, it blew my mind, and started working with a client whose offices were right next to Pivní Galerie, and a few months later I came across Pivovarský Klub. It was then that I started to pay serious attention to what I had in my glass, I wanted to find the sometimes subtle differences that each beer had. Although I knew very little about processes (I had barely managed to understand the difference between “Ale” and “Lager”), let along styles (Indian Pale Ale? Imperial Stout? What the fuck is that?), I was already able to enjoy and get excited by the different nuances and textures that I discovered in each new beer I tasted.

I still didn't know much about things when I started the Spanish version of the blog in 2007. In fact, at the beginning beer was just another topic together with food, restaurants and some information for tourists. With time, beer gained more and more importance and when I launched the English version in January 2008 this was 100% a beer blog.

The very nature of the platform, which fosters the exchange of information and links, together with the people I started to meet, encouraged me to research more on the whys and hows of those differences, which in turn, made me want to keep on exploring and discovering. The blog, to some extent, was a log of this journey I still find thrilling.

These were the days of the beginning of the multitap boom, when I had to taste absolutely everything that was new, because it'll sure be great, and of course, take appropriate tasting notes of each of those beers. Back then I believed that the macromultinationals were evil entities who made mediocre to bad beers so they could fill the filthy pockets of their greedy shareholders and I found it hard to understand why people still drank Staropramen or Gambrinus, where they idiots or what? Thanks heavens for the “craft brewers”, their noble nature, their innovation, their passion and love for us, the consumers of true beer. Whatever.

And today?

I don't say anymore that the only thing that matters is what's in the glass. It still isthe most important, by far, but I've realised that there are factors that will affect the way we perceive it, while there others that should be taken more into account when evaluating a beer.

I still like trying new beers, but not so indiscriminately. I give priority to brewers with a good CV or references, or those that can show some recommendations. And, unless is work-related, I hardly ever write tasting notes anymore.

I stopped doubting the intellectual capacity of the consumers of certain brands because I realised that, much to the chagrin of some people, people drink what they drink because they are used to it and because they like it, at least enough to make them open their wallets. In fact, under certain circumstances, even I am able to enjoy a pint or two of Gambáč or other similar beers.

I have also realised that micro, craft or whateveryouwanttocall them breweries are nothing but commercial enterprises whose goal is to generate profits for their owners, who want us to give them our money in exchange for their products. Products, which by the way, can go from the sublime to the subshit. The motivations, passion and love of beer these people may or may not have don't mean fuck all if they are not able to offer me beers I will want to drink, because from the consumer's point of view, all those words aren't much more meaningful than the slogans, campaigns and bikini clad bimbos that advertising agencies design for the macros.

In other words, as long as I like the beer I'm drinking, I don't care too much about who makes it, be it reclusive monks, a company with Russian capital incorporated in Cyprus, a village brewpub or a multinational. I'm not saying it's irrelevant, it isn't, but I don't think it is THAT important, after all, the places where I buy most of my beer are also small companies.

It's obvious that during all these years my tastes have changed and broadened (I love wheat beers) and maybe even refined, mostly because I'm a more cynical and selective consumer, a result of being better informed. But once all that is left aside, I've realised that I'm not that different than a couple of decades ago, I'm still a bloke who, above all things, enjoys drinking beer for the very sake of drinking beer.

Fuck I'm thirsty!

Na Zdraví!

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