8 May 2017

Musings Over an Afternoon Pint


The other day I stopped for a couple of beers at Krkonošská Hospůdka, a friendly, unpretentious little place I wish I could go to more often. I was the first patron to walk in, just when the doors had opened for the day, but I wasn’t alone for long. A couple, a few older than me, took a table in the opposite end of the room, and more people would soon follow; a mixed crowd that created a great atmosphere.

I ordered Krakonoš 12°, I was thirsty and didn’t want to think about what else was there, besides, I have a bit of a soft spot for that beer, even if consistency is not one of its strongest points, but that afternoon was spot on.

The man at the other end of the room studied the blackboard with the beers on tap and picked President, a 12° Světlý Ležák from Pivovar Ovipistán. I don’t remember having seen any references of this létajicí pivovar or its beers, but this man at the other end of the room was sure liking that dvanáctka, so much that he got another before I was through with my first beer and talked his companion into having one, too, with similar results.

Well, I told myself, this is as good a reference as anyone would need, and I ordered a velké.

It was rubbish, really. Most people describe diacetyl as buttery, to me, cheap margarine melting is a more accurate descriptor (if you are in Czechia, imagine dropping a dollop of Perla on a hot pan), and this beer smelled like plenty of it, and didn’t taste much better. Now, I don’t mind some diacetyl in my Pale Lagers any more than I mind a rock band using synthesisers, but this one was like Van Halen’s “Jump”. I tried to pay as little attention as possible, drinking it in big swigs while focusing on my book so I could get to the next beer.

Bob&Dave Bitter 11° was my next beer. I didn’t order it first because I thought it was a Bitter and not a bitter jedenáctka, and a lovely one at that! It begins almost Helles-like malty, but the grassy-herbal bitterness builds up almost to the point of wrecking the whole thing half-way down the glass, where it settles in its clean, bready cushion. It’s brewed by Robert Franěk, former (?) brewer at Pivovar Hendrych, at the brand new, resurrected brewery in Kamenice nad Lipou, and it’s quite similar to Hendrych 11°, which it seems to have replaced at this pub.

And yet, as much as I was enjoying it, I couldn’t get my mind off of the pint of pomazánkové máslo juice I’d just had. If you follow the comments of the local beer intelligentsia, you might get the impression that diacetyl-ladden beers have become a scourge, to the point that Jiří Kaňa wandered in Pivní.info whether 2016 wasn’t the year of diacetyl. And yet, that man sitting at the table in the opposite end of the room was clearly enjoying President 12°, and was probably in his fourth glass by then.

A beer is good if you like it, and it’s well made if it reflects the intentions of the brewer. Not having at hand the brewer of President 12° to ask him, I will assume, for the sake of the argument, that this beer was well made. Could it be that the problem with diacetyl is ours because we’ve been told it’s an off-flavour by some style guidelines or another? I mean, it wasn’t that long ago that loudly hopped beers were an acquired taste; or the sour beers that geeks like so much these days.

The conclusion of this? Go to Krkonošská Hospůdka and get yourself some of that Bob&Dave Bitter. You won’t regret it.

Na Zdraví!


Krkonošská Hospůdka

50°5'53.776"N, 14°24'23.323"E
Muchova 7 – Prague-Bubeneč
+420 608 566 262 – davidhousa@gmail.com
Mon-Fri: 15-22:30
Metro A, Trams: 1, 2, 8, 18, 20, 25, 26 – Hradčanská

3 comments:

  1. I don't mind a bit of diacetyl myself but when the levels are too high it's definitely an off flavour for me.

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    1. Likewise, but that bloke didn't mind it one bit.

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  2. You want a bit of diacetyl in some beers - Batham's bitter and Landlord to name but two (saying that, the last time I had Batham's it wasn't in great nick, & all I could think of was popcorn). Maybe you can develop a taste for great gobs of the stuff? Hard to imagine.

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