Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Six of the best

Quite a few Czech breweries do these 'mega party assortment' packages, consisting of a number of beers and a glass chucked in, and maybe some balloons or something.

This one from Svijany has all non-pasteurised brews.

The 'knezna' was the best, dark and brooding like Heathcliff in beer form. The 'desitka' was the least enticing, being somewhat watery and bland. The rest were of a muchness, with the 'Rytir' being slightly hoppy and worth a shout.

Who's ever heard of hot beer? Pivovarský dům, that's who. They use one of their fruit flavoured beers to make it - this one is caramel flavoured.

It does actually taste of beer a bit, despite the head being more like the head of a coffee, which doesn't actually disappear... a novel idea, although I can't see it catching on.

Three more Czech attempts at something different: a smoked beer, a stout, and a porter.
The smoked beer, from Cesky Krumlov brewer Eggenberg, was a decent beer but had far less of a smoked flavour than the Franconian versions; some would say that that's a good thing. The 'Primator' stout was also a perfectly good stab, although not particularly distinctive.
I approached the Pardubický Porter with extreme trepidation; the German 'porters' are the vilest thing you will ever taste. Imagine my surprise, and utter joy, to find that it is an absolutely rip-roaring porter, full of the plums, damsons and fig type stuff, and bursting with flavour. Wow.

After a month in Czech, I can say without a smidgen of doubt that Czech beer urinates on German beer from a great height. Not only are the bog standard pasteurised and filtered Czech beers far, far superior to their German counterparts, the wide availability of non-pasteurised and especially unfiltered beers means that a re-run of the Euro 96 final, but played with beer instead of football, would result in an 18-0 thrashing in favour of the Czechs.

Sunday, 21 April 2013


It's usually a good idea when in a certain country, to drink the beer styles which have a heritage there. So avoid lager in the UK which is normally fizzy piss, and don't even get me started on the vile noxious filth which passes for 'porter' in Germany.
How does Czech fare when it comes to brewing non-lagers?

This brewpub "Klášterní pivovar Strahov" in Prague proudly displays its wares.

Non-lager styles are usually referred to as 'special' on Czech menus but without much more detail, whereas in this place they've got a heavy tourist custom.

Come on in...

Their IPA is a regular feature of the show, with various rotating beers, one of which was an 'American Pale Ale'. Everything's unfiltered and unpasteurised naturellement.

The 'APA' on the right contains what the brewery claims are newly breeded hops - 'Mandarin' and 'Polaris', although it doesn't say how the names were chosen. It had been a while since I'd had a heavily citrus hopped beer, and this one reminded me why - all hops and no chops you might say. The bitterness drowned out everything like an enraged elephant in a glockenspiel performance.
The IPA was far better though, with the Amarillo and Cascade in proper proportion. Either of these could have come straight from an American craft brewer.

This pair of fellas from a supermarket were a curiosity. I wasn't able to find much detail out about them other than that they're called 'Master Pivo', and that they're 'Special' beer. The lighter one was vaguely like Old Speckled Hen, whereas the dark one looked, smelt, and tasted like a coffee infused stout. Definitely worth getting again, although they're battling for room in my trolley with the unfiltered Staropramen and the unpasteurised Klaster lezak.

Olomouc is a town in the east of Czech, and in the 'Sherlock Holmes' you can find various special beers such as, depending on the season, fruit ales and pale ales.
The pale ale was a commendable effort, and mercifully not overhopped.

Nice as it was, it couldn't quite compete with the star of the show, the unfiltered Rychtar:

Skilful though the Czechs are at brewing non-lagers when they put their minds to it, I'm going to stick with gems such as this.

Monday, 15 April 2013


"Tankové pivo" are unpasteurised beers with natural carbonation, delivered to the pub in giant lorries. You can find them in lots of places around Prague, this splendid place being one of them:

Pilsner Urquell, in its bottled form, is a reasonable enough beer, and is the pilsner I'd always drink in Germany if I had a choice. In its 'Tankové' form though it's far superior.

Guz daaan griiiiirt.
So which of pasteurising and filtering is it more important not to do? To investigate I proceeded somewhere which has both unpasteurised and unfiltered beers.

This place has beers from some of the finest breweries in Czech, including Rychtář.

This unfiltered specimen from "únětický pivovar" was unspeakably good. You could guzzle it down in 5 seconds so smooth is the carbonation.

Next up was an unpasteurised "Klášter Ležák".

Good but not a patch on the "únětický".
Every time in a Czech pub now I ask for a "nefiltrované" as to me that's more important than "nepasterizované", and sometimes they even understand what I'm saying. Luckily the beer boards outside usually alert you to the presence of such a brew.

Monday, 8 April 2013


UNESCO like to go around slapping their name onto olde stuff to try to persuade people not to knock it all down and build a supermarket instead. Cesky Krumlov is one of its boys.

Could they do the same with lager? Any region, town or city which still makes lager as it's supposed to be made, unfiltered, unpasteurised and with sufficient lagering time, could have a 'UNESCO Lager Area' designation. Franconia in Germany could certainly claim it, and so could here thanks to these Eggenberg geezers:

The light version is unfiltered and better than the dark one. I pondered whether, if you substituted somebody's pint of Fosters for this, would they send it back because it tasted of something?

Some places around town make a real do of ye olde Czech type stuff and serve it up in ye olden style mugs.

Combined with a roaring fire it almost makes you want to not have a bath for a year whilst catching some disgusting skin disease or whatever people did back then.

Rest ye merry, Eggenberg lager and Cesky Crumlov.

Thursday, 4 April 2013


Filtering and pasteurising is of course the worst thing you can do to a beer, so when I spotted this fella in the supermarket I bung a couple in, as you don't have to speak Czech to work out what 'Nefiltrovany' might mean.

The bog standard Staropramen which I tried was very uninspiring; the only one of the ten or so Czech beers I've tried from the supermarket which I wouldn't get again.
This one was way, way, better though; nice and cloudy, with spices and fruitiness. Why exactly would they make the crud ones when they can make this? At about 60 Euro cents I bought another 6 today.

It's always encouraging when a pub / restaurant has brewing equipment on display in the window, and when the menu is headed 'we serve unfiltered and unpasteurised beers' then that's even better.

I went for the mixture of pale and dark lager and it was a reminder that lager can be as flavoursome as any beer when it isn't buggered with.

Lager is the beer equivalent of pizza; abused, defiled, misrepresented and misunderstood.
There's lots of beery snacks to keep you going, such as 'beer cheese'.

They also do their own fruit beers; I went for a 'nettle' and a 'sour cherry'.

The nettle one had just the right combination of beer and fruit flavour; the sour cherry one was much more oriented to the sour cherry taste but was still worth drinking. You even get a real sour cherry at the bottom...

Pivovarsky Dum, may your beer stay nefiltrovany.

Tuesday, 2 April 2013

Krivoklat - castle and beer

What to do with a castle in the 21st century? There are no barbarian hordes to hide from, so instead the unanimous opinion is that the best thing to do with them is to fill them with gippos selling tat.

However, amongst the tat you can find the odd diamond, like this stall, which was doing a brisk business.

And no wonder, when your produce is such as this...

Here's the menu...

I went for a Winterbock seeing as a) it was winter, except it was supposed to be spring, and b) it was the only one that I could understand. You can either get a glass from the barrel, or take a bottle away, or both, which is by far the best option.

Splendidly spicy and warming on a cold winter night, or a cold spring night, with an awesome golden glow.

Pivovar Matuska, splendid fellows all round.