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Showing posts from February, 2010

A crazy idea

One of the advantages of having a long commute is that I have time to think. It is then that I put together much of what I write here, and sometimes I come up with ideas that can go from the brilliant to the utterly stupid. Which of these extremes is the following idea closer to, that's something you can judge by yourself: I want to organise a gathering of beer bloggers in Prague, in Autumn. I've already had the pleasure to meet some of you and would love to do it again, and there are many more with whom I haven't had yet the opportunity to share a pivo or two, and would also love to do that. I'm sure there are many that feel the same. The gathering would be over a weekend, in October. I might even include, apart from a session at Zlý Časy and other worthy pub(s), a visit to a brewery near Prague. What do you think of it? Anyone up? Leave a comment or send an email and let's see how many we can get together around the same table... Na Zdraví! 3 stars Hotels in Pragu

Imperial my ass!

The first time I cam across the phrase "Imperial Pilsner" was on the label of Mikkeller Draft Bear , the beer I drank to welcome the new year . though I thought the name was quite silly, I figured it was a bit of a joke. A few days later I saw a Dutch Imperial Pilsner reviewed in a Spanish beer blog . And a couple of weeks after, Stan Hieronymus wrote that Orval's Brew Master had also made an Imperial Pilsner in collaboration with an American Brewery. I turned out Mikkel wasn't joking, at least not intentionally. An exhaustive Google search (all the way to the second page of the results) showed me several references to "Imperial Pilsner", in fact, according to a blog I can't remember, they seem to be everywhere. But what is an Imperial Pilsner, I'm sure many of you are asking? A strong Pale Lager with an ABV around 8%. WOW!!! A strong Pale Lager!!! How innovative! How come nobody had ever thought of it before?!?! Wait a second! They have! A

A question of perception

The other day Mark, in his blog Pencil&Spoon , wrote a very interesting post on beer and wine , which actually carries on an old discussion originated on that "Beer is the new wine" thing. First of all, I want to make clear that to me "Beer is the new wine" is just a load of bollocks. It implies that beer is a lesser drink, when it's not, if anything, it's more versatile and varied than wine. That said, I understand where it comes from and why. Consumers must be addressed with words that are familiar and can be associated with things they already know and are comfortable with, which in a way, is the point Mark wants to make. But this is not what I wanted to discuss with you, but the origins of the difference that exists between wine and beer in the minds of the average consumers. The enigmatic Cooking Lager says in his comment that it all comes from wine being an imported drink and therefore, historically only affordable for the elites. This is partly t

Gringo come home!

American "Craft Beers" enjoy a massive reputation and many of them have served as templates for many a micro brewer from around the world. Naturally, like any beer enthusiast worth his salt, I really wanted to drink at least some of them, but I had pretty much come to terms with the idea that there was nobody here willing to import them. I tried to see if there was anything I could do on my own, but my finances thought otherwise. Fortunately, I found a kindred spirit in Hanz, the owner of Zlý Časy , who'd been doing quite well with specialties from Germany and beyond and wanted to expand the offer with stuff that nobody had ever offered in Prague, at least not on a regular basis. So we started working together. I helped him find suppliers and choose which beers to bring, solely based on their reputation and what I wanted to drink myself. Two weeks ago he got his ass to Amsterdam to pick those beers that we had chosen together with the help of a couple more štamgasty of th

No liniency

The other day the girls from 2D2dspuma wrote a long and very good rant about what they expect from craft beers (they own a shop in Barcelona, the centre of the craft beer movement in Spain). In a nutshell, the beers should be good and interesting (what is that makes a beer interesting is perhaps topic for another discussion, but even if it's in Spanish, read the post). In the comments, one of the authors of Hipos Urinatum says he mostly agrees with what's written above and adds that in his reviews he prefers to be lenient towards micro-brewers, something I'd already seen mentioned more than once. The reason, setting up a brewery is really difficult and bad reviews from popular bloggers can harm their business. I'm well aware of the the difficulties and risks of starting up a brewery, of how hard it is to find people that will buy your products, and I've got no doubt of the growing importance that blogs are having and that is why I really like supporting these brew

A fest for the brave

Once again, Honza Kočka is organising an event that aims to enrich our beer culture. This time, time invitation is for Festival Desítek . Those who follow this blog are well aware that here "desítka" means a beer of around 4%ABV, or 10% in the Plato scale. In this case, though, the 10 means the ABV. There will be samples from Belgium, Denmark, Holland and, of course, domestic (there might be some American ones, as well). The festival takes place at U Prince Miroslava next Saturday, Feb. 20th, from 1 to 8PM. Tickets are 100CZK. An interesting beery thing to do in this bitterly cold weather. Na Zdraví! 5 stars Hotels in Prague with 75% discount.

Some Swedes

Some of the reactions this blog generate are pretty interesting. One day I got an e-mail from a Swede called Leif saying that those beers that Gnoff had brought me where nor the best, neither the most interesting that Sweden has to offer, and that he would correct that in his upcoming visit. So we agreed to meet one afternoon. I went to pick him up at his hotel and we went for some beers to Ferdinanda in Malá Strana (nice place, by the way, and Ferdinand Tmvavý Ležák is in really good shape). Leif turned out to be a chap of around 60, very nice and with a lot of beer knowledge. I had a great time with him. He brought a grand total of 11 samples. The first one I opened was Slotts Lager from Slottskälans Bryggery . Unfortunately, I can't find its tasting notes, so the review won't be all that accurate. For what I can remember, it was an OK pale lager, nothing wrong with it, but nothing particularly worth mentioning, either. Just the kind of beer that you can drink without payi

A trend?

Or is it too soon to speak about that? Last year beer sales fell everywhere, I think. The Czech Republic is no exception, where sales dropped by 5% overall (with 10% on exports). No surprise here. However, if we take a second to look at the numbers in more detail we will notice a couple of very interesting things. Plzeňský Prazdoj , the largest brewer in the country, reported a decrease of 4.4%. Budvar , of 2%. Staropramen haven't released the figures yet, but I don't think they'll be much better, and neither I think Heineken CZ's will be, even though I haven't seem them yet. On the other hand, during the same period, K Brewery Trade reported that the sales of their six regional breweries grew by 7%, reaching a volume of 850k hl. Černá Hora , KBT's newest member, also had a successful 2009, with sales going up by 5%. But the most impressive results are, no doubt, those from Svijany and Rohozec . They grew by almost 17.5% and 16% respectively. Svijany's o

Making the best of an invitation

Though I talk about places that I visit while wandering around the city, restaurant reviewing is nor my area of expertise, neither the main topic of this blog. That's why I was quite surprised by the mail received from Restaurace Paprika a few days before Christmas. Paprika is a small Hungarian restaurant located in a back street of Holešovice. Its owner Holešovice wanted to invite me to taste the home made sausages his brother, the chef, makes. I love sausages, they are one of the best beer snacks in the world, and I have a greasy spot for Hungarian-like sausages. Of course I accepted the invitation. In my religion refusing without a very good reason an invitation to good food is a capital sin punished by an eternity of drinking piss-warm Corona from glasses of Kout na Šumavě. So a couple of weeks ago I agreed with Lászlo to pay him a visit on a quiet afternoon. I didn't go empty handed, I took a few beers with me to try some pairings and share with my host. Paprika is a pret

A pisshead anecdote

To a certain extent, Czech beer lovers aren't spoil for choice when it comes to style variety, but if it's good quality lagers what we are talking about, and session beers in particular, we really can't complain. Moreover, unlike what happens in most other countries, the "real beers" are often cheaper than those of the bigger brands. That's why it's sometimes hard to believe that there are still so many people that prefer to drink Gambrinus or Staropramen . It's easy to be tempted to think that they are all morons. And I must confess that at some point that was exactly what I used to believe. Until around two years ago: One Wednesday I met my friend Mark for lunch, we went to Kralovství . Right before we met we had both received the news that our appointments for the rest of the day had been canceled. Lunch then was extended both in time and Černá Hora beers. Since we were having such a good time, Mark suggested we have a shot to cap the meeting.