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Showing posts from August, 2013

Pivovar Hostivař, a lazy review

So, I finally made it to Pivovar Hostivař. Ever since its opening in April (I think it was) I had heard very good comments about it, but I was put off by its seemingly remote location, but the other day I was left with a couple of hours to kill in my hands and decided I would put them to good use.

Getting there turned out to be easier, and in a way, faster, than I had thought. There are buses from Skálka that take you there (and there's one, the 175, from Florenc, which must take half day), but I was in Vršovice and I chose to take tram 22 all the way to the end at Nádraží Hostivař and then take the bus (125 or 183) a couple of stops to Řepčická. Easy peasy japanese.

The brewpub can be seen from the stop, it's hard to miss. Unlike most Czech brewpubs and micro breweries, Pivovar Hostivař was not set up in an existing facility, but built from scratch. It looks a bit like a wooden box with one window in the corner showcasing the stainless steel brewhouse. I'm not much of a…

On ingredients. What ingredients?

A few weeks ago I was having a chat with U Medvídku's brewmaster Laďa Veselý, who, in between beers, told me something rather curious:

They had received a visit from Státní Zemědělská a Potravinářská Inspekce (State Agricultural and Food Inspection), who warned them about a couple of shortcomings in their labels, among which was the mention of yeast as an ingredient.

You can imagine my friend's surprise (he's been a brewer for decades and has worked at the Brewing and Malting Research Institute). And yet, it seems that yeasts are not an ingredient in beer according to Czech legislation.

That's something that may have made sense 200 years ago or so, but that sounds rather absurd nowadays, and not only if we are talking about unfiltered or bottle conditioned beers. On the other hand, I also remember that Pilsner Urquell booklet I read once that said that the beer was made with three ingredients, explaining that they didn't consider yeasts as such because they were r…

Just a quick thing

The debate of what is or isn't craft beer has been waning (I'm basically done with the whole thing), but there are still people around who haven't given up on their search for the ultimate definition.

Well, I think I have found it.

Mind you, it's a definition that has been stripped of all the marketing and PR generated dogmas of convenience. It's in this really good article about Lithuanian farmhouse brewer Ramūnas Čižas, who
"... uses no exact figures. The mash bread bakes for an hour, roughly, but he doesn't measure the time. He uses no thermometer, either. If he gets up in the morning and doesn't feel like brewing, he won't. And
"... also uses his fingers to judge the temperature, but uses different fingers for the different pauses, to get the temperature right. He says that knowledge of this technique used to be considered a great secret. The article also mentions the brewhouse of Ramūnas's grandfather, which is still in use and has s…

Some beer among all that water

The other day I went with my family and some friends for a short canoe trip on the Sázava river. It was fantastic, really; gorgeous scenery, quiet and fun for everyone involved, children included. Not even the insane heat was much of a nuisance; when there wasn't a gentle breeze blowing, all you needed to do to refresh yourself was to jump into the river. Believe me, if you ever get the chance to do something like this, take it, you'll not regret it.

But this blog is about beer, and not about travelling, and there was beer, of course.

We arrived in Týn n. Sázavou a bit after 9:30 and we met the rest of the group. Before we headed to nearby Čerčany to pick the canoes I was able to squeeze a quick pint, Ferdinand 11º, on tap at a shop that sold fruit, veggies, sausages, and beer. It was properly drawn, on a plastic cup, as it should be, and, needless to say, tasted lovely; few things are better than the first beer in a hot summer day.

Once in Čerčany we got in the water and off…

Weekend musings

This bit by Boak & Bailey reminded me of something that's been in my mind for awhile.

For a long time I've lamented how little attention and respect beer gets from most food writers, restaurant critics, etc.; like, for instance, that review of a restaurant specialised in Czech food made with locally sourced ingredients that praised the extensive wine list, but made no mention about the beer on tap, or an Italian restaurant being commended on the authenticity of the (imported mostly) ingredients they use, while ignoring the fact their only choice of beer is a pseudo-imported brand, and many others. But lately I've been asking myself how bad a thing that is, and if we should actually care about it.

Mind you, this is not reverse snobbery. I've got no issue with beer being spoken seriously about, neither I'm against foodies suddenly embracing beer, or restaurants having beer sommeliers, or people people on the other side of the counter trying to reach new consumer…

No excuses

Last week I was guiding a small group of Norwegians and, after a really good lunch at U Slovanské Lípy, we stopped for a pint at Pivovar Victor. It was my first visit since my review in January, which can be summarised, good service - decent beer - awful food.

When we arrived the place was empty and we were very much welcome by the bloke at the bar, who's pretty friendly. From the three beers they had that day we chose Kouřované (smoked). It didn't look good, the liquid in the glass, rather than beer, looked like something someone had scooped from the muddy banks of the Vltava after a storm, what was curious was that it had hardly any smell at all. As I expected, it was undrinkable, it tasted as if it had everything that could possibly go wrong in a beer thrown together.

I called the Výčepní and told him that the beer was off. Without any problem, he took all the glasses away and promised to bring fresh ones, the only excuse he gave was that it was an "alive beer" a…

Perfection

It's a very hot day. One of those days when you'd rather stay inside, all blinds down, well sheltered from the sun. But you've promised your help to people who deserve it. You'll have to go out, and you'll have to work, and you'll have to be in the sun.

After midday the heat has become unbearable. Everybody has lost almost all strength to keep on working. You hear the magic words "Jdeme na pivo". You finish what you are doing and head towards the closest pub, which turns out to be a beer garden, which is actually not that close.

The place is a bit off of the little road you are walking. There's an arrow indicating the way, next to it there is the sign of a beer you don't like. But well, these people you are helping are paying and it's not that there's anything else to choose from; besides, thirst always beats taste.

You follow the arrow's instructions and take a little path that goes uphill. A few metres later you can see the entr…

The Session #78 "Your Elevator Pitch"

The Session 78 is held by the Australian Beer Bar Band blog, and it's titled "Your Elevator Pitch for Beer". The thing goes like this:
"You walk into an elevator and hit the button for your destination level. Already in the elevator is someone holding a beer…and it’s a beer that annoys you because, in your view, it represents all that is bad with the current state of beer.
You can’t help but say something, so you confront your lift passenger with the reason why their beer choice is bad.
30 seconds is all you have to sell your pitch for better beer, before the lift reaches the destination floor. There’s no time, space or words to waste. You must capture and persuade the person’s attention as quickly as possible. When that person walks out of the elevator, you want them to be convinced that you have the right angle on how to make a better beer world."
OK, let's play along by the rules of this intellectual exercise and assume that the person with us in this pro…