16 May 2014

Comments on the Czech Beer news


I've got nothing better to write about today (well, I do, but I can't be arsed), so you'll have to put up with some comments on the news.

It's been more than two months already since Carslberg bought a majority stake in Pivovar Žatec, and frankly, I believe it could be a good thing in the long run.

Pivovar Žatec is to me one of the most disappointing Czech breweries. They have everything to be great: smallish, independent (so far), traditional and located right in the heart of one of the most famous and renown hop growing regions in the world, and yet, their beers, though not bad, taste almost like something a multinational would put together. The reason for this might because the brewery was the property of a company incorporated in Cyprus and, for what I've heard, the owners are very frugal with the fucks they give about the beers. Maybe someone in Denmark will figure out a way to capitalise the brewery's and brand's potential? Whatever happens, let's hope that the Danes will take more inspiration from what Heineken has so far done with Březňák, rather than from what InBev did with Staropramen.

Speaking about Staropramen. It might be because of the implosion of the Radler market (el volumen de producción last year fell by 40%, compared to 2012), or because, after two years, Molson-Coors have decided to finally do something with the Smíchov brewery, but things are moving in an interesting fashion.

Staropramen is the official beer of Rock For People, the biggest music festival in the Czech Republic, and they've announced they will be brewing a special beer for the event, giving the public to choose from three alternatives: an 11º světlý, unfiltered and unpasteurised, a 14º polotmavé, unfiltered, and unpasteurised and a 20° světlý unpasteurised.

I would love to see the 20º, or any other HGB-less beer with enough lagering time (I have it from good sources that Staropramen brews at 17º and their ležák matures two weeks in average). But as @czechbeerblog said on Twitter, it's not very likely they'll make such a strong beer for a rock festival. My money is on the polotmavé, which I wouldn't mind drinking, either – it must be closer to what Granát was at the beginning. As for the 11º, I would love to know in what way it is different to their current 11º.

Did I mention Heienken? Yes I did. A couple of months ago they kindly sent me a case of their new beer Starobrno Drak, an extra hopped Světlý Ležák. I won't comment on the “extra hopped” bit because that can be quite relative. After going through the whole case I can say with some authority that the beer isn't bad. It's not something that would go out of my way for, but I wouldn't mind finding it in a pub.

I was reminded of this beer when I read the news that Pilsner Urquell apparently will be sold in brown bottles in the near future. Like Urquell, Drak, and the whole line of Starobrno, is sold in green bottles, and I think there are way too many beers in green bottles here in CZ, and I wonder why. Some time ago, a green bottle will have been a sign of a premium beer – after all, Pilsner Urquell is still considered the most prestigious Czech beer – but is it still so? Měsťán and Braník are also sold in green bottles, and those beers are as lowbrow as you can get. Braník has even joked about it not long ago with a slogan that said “drahý jen vypadá” (it only looks expensive). If the flagship Czech beer brand does switch to brown glass, will the rest follow suit? Let's hope so.

I wish I had a few thousand crowns to spare because I would use them to buy some shares of Pivovary Lobkowicz, who are having their IPO at the end of this month. Not because I have a particular attachment to the company or their beers (though, it should be said, some of the stuff they make is excellent), but because I believe those shares will be very valuable if (or should I say when?) they are taken over by a bigger company (not necessarily a brewing one). In the meantine, I will keep on enjoying the good beers they make.

Yesterday started the Czech Beer Festival – 2014 and, though they have a great location this year in Letná, I will not be going. I refuse to pay an admission fee, even if it is only 45CZK, just so I can drink beer in a large tent. Besides, next Saturday, 24 May is Černokostelecké Vysmolení, an event that to me is far more interesting in every possible sense. Have a look at this pdf, if you don't believe me.

There are few other things, but I'm thirsty already, so you'll have to wait.

Na Zdraví!

4 comments:

  1. Does MolsonCoors's ownership of the Smichov brewery explain Coor's production of its "Summer Brew"?

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    1. I wouldn't know. MC took over Staropramen about two years ago, if I remember correctly.

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  2. Hi Max. Looks like the IPO was a bust: http://www.fsfinalword.cz/?page=archive&day=2014-05-28 Best just keep supporting good breweries by drinking their beers I guess... R

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    1. I still think it could be a nice business in the long run, but I guess buying beer is a lot less hassle, and much more enjoyable, than buying shares.

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