Showing posts with label budvar. Show all posts
Showing posts with label budvar. Show all posts

Friday, September 6, 2013

Czech It Out!

Think rare beers.

Think legendary beers.

Think Budvar.

Now rename it Czechvar, and if you go to Beer Run on Sunday, you can get it on draught.

Yes, you read that correctly, on tap. As in fresh, not bottled. None of those dodgy green vessels here.

Nope, Budvar, sorry Czechvar, from a keg.

Not only that, but if you are a fan of dark beers, they also have have Budvar Dark available (in bottles). Yes you read that correctly, a genuine Czech tmavé is available for purchase in Central Virginia.

Beer Run is open right now, I think, so what are you waiting for? You know you need Czech dark lager in your life to tide you over until Sunday?

Sorry for the lame pun, but it had to be done.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Hope for Pilsner

If you have gleaned anything from the more than 700 posts on Fuggled, it should be, at least, that I love lager. In particular I love Czech lagers, hence Mrs V and I started our annual trip to Florida with a six pack of Budvar last night, at the half way point of our journey, her home town of Columbia, South Carolina.

When I swung by Greens Discount Beverage last night (I wonder if this country has a Trades Description Act, because I couldn't work out where the "discount" came in to it) in the hopes of picking up some cans of lager from the Bohemian Brewery, I made a point to see what Czech lagers they had available, Budvar, Pilsner Urquell and B.B. Burgerbrau Tmave were there but sadly nothing from Bohemian Brewery.

Anyway, recently the people from Pilsner Urquell announced that they are doing something new for the American market - they have started shipping their beer from the Czech Republic in refridgerated containers, and it will apparently be "express shipped". Hopefully this will see an improvement in the overall quality of Pilsner Urquell available in bottles in the States. I also hope that if the freshness of Pilsner Urquell improves we'll see an end to this ridiculous notion that Pilsner style lagers from Europe are supposed to be "skunky", and there are several pro-brewers I have in mind with that comment as well as muppets making uninformed comments on websites that advocate the rating of beer.

In other fairly recent news relating to beer from the Czech Republic, Budvar is cancelling its contract with AB-InBev to import and distribute its quality lager, thankfully there is another importer taking up the contract - and if I may be blunt, I hope they do a damned sight better job at getting the beer into shops and bars.

As I said, we are on holiday for the coming week, so here's to a week of beach and beer!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Original Budweiser?

Regular followers of this blog will know that I love Czech beer, in fact I think Czech lager is the best on the planet by a long, long way. Even stuff that I wouldn't normally drink when I lived in Prague, such as Gambrinus or Staropramen, is better than many a lager from the rest of the world. From the ranks of the mass produced Czech lagers, Budvar has long been my favourite, so it may come as something of a surprise that I think the latest Budvar vs Budweiser stunt to be utterly pointless.

In case you haven't seen their tweets or Facebook page, Budvar in the UK are organising a taste test between "The Original" and "The Other", kind of like the Pepsi vs Coke challenge from the 1980s. I don't know why they feel the need to do a taste test, given the appalling nature of a palate that would be required not to be able to tell the difference.

My problem with the whole shenanigans isn't with trying to show that Budvar tastes far superior to Budweiser, that's pretty much a given. Rather, it is the use of the term "the Original" to describe Budvar, because it simply isn't true.

The dictionary definition of "original" includes the following:
  • belonging or pertaining to the origin or beginning of something, or to a thing at its beginning
  • arising or proceeding independently of anything else
  • created, undertaken, or presented for the first time
  • being something from which a copy, a translation, or the like is made
  • a primary form or type from which varieties are derived
I guess Budvar have definitions 4 and 5 primarily in mind with their claims to be the "Original", though they also claim an element of the first definition, as the term "Budweiser" pertains the place of origin. However, the claim to be the "Original" is entirely spurious.

A quick history lesson, the year is 1795 in the Bohemian town called Budweis and there is a new brewery in town, the "Bürgerliches Brauhaus Budweis", which translates as the Budweis Citziens Brewery. The sign above, which I have posted many times on here, reads "Budweiser from the Original Source", made by the Bürgerliches Brauhaus Budweis. I have also posted a sign for Budweiser Porter, suggesting that "Budweiser" is not a description of any given beer style, but rather than appellation (I have no problem with Budvar claiming the appellation, after all they brew in Budweis - different argument). Today, the Bürgerliches Brauhaus Budweis is known by it's Czech name Budějovicky mě??ansky pivovar, and sells most of it beers under the brand name Samson, though in the USA it is known as "B.B. Bürgerbrau".

In 1875, the Bürgerliches Brauhaus Budweis started exporting its beer to the USA using the name Budweiser. In 1876, Anheuser-Busch started producing their own pale lager in St Louis, apparently based on Bohemian brewing techniques and sold under the name Budweiser.

Skipping back to Bohemia about 20 years later, to 1895, and a group of mainly Czech brewers in Budweis decide to establish their own brewery, Budějovicky Budvar was the result. A brewery that is 19 years younger than Anheuser-Busch and 110 years younger than the first organised brewery in Budweis.

I think it is a safe bet, given the post Pilsner Urquell brewing revolution that swept Central Europe, that Bürgerliches Brauhaus Budweis were brewing a pale lager a few decades before Budvar even got in on the act. As such, Budvar, while being superior to Budweiser, is far from being the "Original" beer from Budweis, that honour belongs to Budějovicky mě??ansky pivovar.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Beer Commercials

Friday mornings are pretty easy. Get up, walk dog, shower, shave, read beer blogs, go to work. While I was sat in the comfort of an armchair, I read the latest post from Tale of the Ale. The post is mostly about the Beer Bloggers Conference that took place in London last weekend, but the thing that caught my attention most was the new advertising campaign from the Czech branch of multinational beer conglomerate SABMiller, better known as Pilsner Urquell.

I am sure that if you know anything about the history of Pilsner Urquell you will see the glaring omissions and logical flaws in the advert. Actually if you know anything about the history of beer, you'll know that the "world's first golden beer" claim is also a pile of shite (the first pale ale was marketed in the early 18th century). Any way, as it is a Friday and I am in a fairly chipper mood, I am not going to rant about these things, after all who really expects truth and historical veracity in an advertising campaign? Also the fact that I rather like the advert, it is certainly well done and if it encourages more people to drink Pilsner Urquell, go to the Czech Republic and try the unpasteurised version and then demand its availability in Blighty, that can only be a good thing. No, I think today I will just post some of my favourite beer commercials, and we'll start with the other internationally renowned Czech beer, with a quick language alert for the faint of heart....

While we are on mass produced Czech beers....

Jumping across to Blighty....

and finally, down to Australia....

Friday, April 15, 2011

Traditional Beer Friday

Back when I was studying to be a minister of religion, I took New Testament Greek. I didn't have to, I wanted to. I wasn't very good at it, only just passing the first end of term test and deciding to sack it in favour of ethics and the purchase of a good concordance with Greek and Hebrew lexicons (there was no way on earth I was ever going to take Hebrew). Despite my abject failure at Greek, though in later life a knowledge of the Cyrillic alphabet greatly helped when I had to learn some Russian while living in Minsk, there was one word which, for reasons unknown, lodged itself in my cranium, paradosis. Paradosis is generally translated as "tradition" though a more thorough explanation of the term would be "the things that are handed from generation to generation".

When it comes to beer, tradition is a word that we hear and see a lot. Whether talking about "traditional ingredients", "traditional brewing methods" or "traditional serving methods", there seems to be a part of beer that seeks to hark back to times past. The problem with such backward harking is deciding where the tradition starts and whether the development of said tradition is a good thing or a bad thing. The whole traditional IPA debate comes to mind, see Ron's blog for more on that subject.

Of course there are some breweries that seem intent on giving tradition a swift kick in the head, while others are so traditional that they almost appear quaint. Generally speaking I like drinking beers from the latter breweries than the former. That's not to say that a uber-hopped bourbon barrel aged beer isn't a tasty drop from time to time, but it is best just that way, from time to time. I couldn't imagine sitting in the pub polishing off many imperial pints of such beers. Perhaps that makes me a faux beer geek, but if proving your geekiness means drinking hopped up paint stripper, then I am perfectly happy not being a beer geek.

This whole train of thought came about after reading more about the Budvar brewery in the Czech Republic. When I moved to the Prague, back in the 20th century, I already knew that I liked Budvar - I had the pleasure several times in the All Bar One pub in Birmingham. I have never actually done a side by side tasting of Budvar and Pilsner Urquell (more's the pity) but they are very distinctive beers and most people prefer one to the other. Given the choice of a lifetime drinking either only Budvar or Pilsner Urquell (not exactly a hardship, I know), I would drink Budvar. One thing that impressed me about Budvar, while I was reading, was that it takes 102 days for a batch to go from kettle to tap. That's 12 days fermentation and 90 days in the lagering tanks before packaging, more than 3 months for each batch. I find that remarkable, also damned drinkable.

Innovation and new flavours are all well and good, but I have a soft spot for a brewery that considers innovation as brewing a dark lager, more than 100 years after the first Czech dark lagers went from being warm fermented to cold fermented. I also have great respect for the former head brewer at Budvar, Mr Tolar, who refused to bow to the demands of the economists of the Communist regime to make his beer quicker (funny how regardless of political system it is always the economists and lawyers that end up running the show).  In the flood of fancy hops, bourbon barrels and imperialised beers, let's not lose sight of the classic beers that have stood the test of time.

Monday, August 2, 2010

On Reflection

It has been a year and 3 days since Mrs Velkyal and I pitched our tent in Charlottesville, Virginia. Of course regular readers will know that the 10 years before that, 6 in the good lady's case, were spent mostly in Prague. I say "mostly" because I had a three month stint in Minsk, Belarus, and a few months living in a town called Mlada Boleslav about 50km outside Prague, and home to Skoda Auto.

When we moved over to the States, I was very much looking forward to getting to grips with the craft beer scene here, especially the local one. I have mentioned several times that we live in an excellent part of the world for beer, and one that has a fair bit of brewing heritage - we are only about 2 miles from Thomas Jefferson's estate, Monticello, and the good man was known for the quality of his homebrew. Despite wanting to immerse myself in local beer (take that whatever way you will), one of my priorities was to find a source of Budvar so I could still enjoy my favourite large scale production Czech lager. So far, I am yet to find the pot of golden lager at the end of the rainbow, and so when we venture to South Carolina, I pick up a case of the good stuff to grace the shelves of the cellar.

As you most likely know, I work occasional weekends in the Starr Hill Brewing Company tasting room, giving out little samples of beer and trying not to baffle visitors with technicalities - I work on the theory that they are more interested in the beer, and not the process, those interested in the process can take the tour. Reactions are always interesting when taking people through the samples, and it is surprising how often someone will tell me their favourite beer and when asked why they like it, they answer "because it doesn't taste like beer". I also find it interesting the number of ingrained preconceptions which abound and need to be gently corrected, though that really isn't my style. The number of times I have had to explain the difference between cellar temperature and room temperature is as numerous as the grains of sand in the Sahara. Oh, and quite how people can think I am Australian given my pretty standard BBC accent is beyond me, answers on a postcard please.

While we are happily blessed with good breweries in the area, and in the case of Blue Mountain and , excellent brewpubs, finding a pub to call my regular has proven to be somewhat trickier. It is not a case that there are no good pubs, it is a case of not being able to walk to them, or to get the bus (ok, ok, there is a bus system and I am sure I could work it out somehow), so going to the pub means driving, finding a parking space and then one of us having to be exceedingly moderate, and I guess you know who that is most of the time! My favourite haunt  in terms of pub ambience is Court Square Tavern in the centre of the town - a quietish pub with a decent selection of beer and a nice feel to it. If we lived closer I would most likely call it my local. Beer Run also has a good selection of beer and a variety of draught beers, not to mention one of the few handpulls in town, but again I can't just totter home merrily after a night out.

As for the world of tipplers, I have met several fellow bloggers and even a few readers who have come into the tasting room at Starr Hill and it is great to see that beer lovers here are broadly similar to beer lovers I have met in other parts of the world - good humoured, generous and always happy to share knowledge. I think it was the first or second weekend we were here that we went up to Richmond to attend a beer blogger/lover get together hosted by E.S. Delia of Relentless Thirst renown. We had a great time, drank some wonderful beers, my contribution being BrewDog Paradox Smokehouse, but the beer highlight of the event was a homebrewed dark mild, which was delightful.

Memories of the dark mild, partly brewed by this rather talented artist, leads me nicely into one of my few criticisms of the brewing, and drinking, scene in this neck of the woods, the lack of session beer. I am a big fan of the Lew Bryson's Session Beer Project and wish more brewers took up the challenge of making flavourful beer with less than 4.5% abv. One brewer with whom I am acquainted commented that "there is no market" for session beer. I would however suggest that he is wrong, the market is out there, but it is drowned out by the hopheads and extreme beer fanatics who salivate like rabid dogs at the thought of the latest, greatest "innovative" beer. Such fanatics are, thankfully, in my experience a minority here, but they are so vocal, so passionate, so bloody Talibanesque that you would think their view of beer is the only legitimate one, and they are wrong.

To quote
All in all though, I am enjoying experiencing American beer, and, for the most part, meeting American beer lovers. I still have plenty to discover, more beer to drink, more people to hang out with in bars, all the while remaining true to my belief that beer is the everyman drink, not a lifestyle accessory, not a badge of being cool, not a fashion statement, and most certainly not an opportunity for oneupmanship. Beer is about people. The people who make it, the people who care for and serve it and the people who drink it. Beer people are largely good people, beer people are my people.

Monday, February 8, 2010

For Whom the Bell's Toll

In the ongoing aftermath of my DVT, and subsequent drinking limitations, it has been a trial not to put a glass of something delicious and alcoholic to my lips. The trial was made all the more challenging by the fact that I didn't have a drop of the amber nectar for the duration of Advent - I thought I would lose the inevitable Christmas poundage in advance, rather than spending January dry, as has become my habit.

Effectively then, I have had a two month hiatus with regards to beer. Last week though the doctor said I could have the "occasional half pint", warning me not to "go crazy". Apparently the danger in boozing whilst on blood thinners is not just the extra thinness of the blood, but the possibility of having an accident and bleeding to death - not something I would relish to be honest. I was all set for my first post-op beer when the doctor rang to give me my weekly INR update, basically they tell me where in the therapeutic range for Warfarin I am. It was at the higher extreme of where they wanted it, so a change of dosage was required, and back in to storage went the beer, as I decided to give the new dosage a couple of days to bring the INR down a bit.

For those of you who know me well, such restraint must seem nigh on miraculous.

This weekend though, I could bear it no longer, and simply needed a beer in order to celebrate Liverpool winning the Merseyside derby, again, and Dirk Kuyt scoring against Everton, again. The beer I turned to was , a 10.2% big hitting, toffee laden, delight.

have become something of a favourite brewery of mine, indeed my final beer the night before the operation was their simply sublime Two Hearted Ale. Third Coast certainly maintained those lofty standards I have come to expect from Bell's, and to say a "half pint" (you have to love small bottles on occasion) of this magnificent beer hit the spot, would be the understatement of the year. If you are yet to try anything from Bell's then I recommend a quick trip to your local bottle shop and correcting your oversight immediately.

Today I had blood taken for this week's INR, assuming all is well, I am planning Budvar tonight.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Slacking off

Mrs Velkyal, myself and a friend from England have driven down from Charlottesville to Columbia, South Carolina to spend Thanksgiving with the in-laws. Of course making sure I had plenty of good beer was in order, thus a trip to the local booze store was in order, and the beer for the next few days comprises:
  • Starr Hill Northern Lights (bought from home admittedly)
  • Unibroue La Fin du Monde
  • Unibroue Les Trois Pistoles
  • Unibroue Maudite
  • Unibroue Ephemere (made with apple juice, coriander and curacao!)
  • Budvar
A good triumvirate of beers there for the holiday, and I am sure some stuff will make it's way back up the Interstate.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Beer and Cheese

When I read around beer blogs, I find that I am in minority when it comes to things such as music in a pub, in that I like a pub to have either a decent sound system and the occasional band. Having said that, I don't like pubs where the music is so loud that it gets in the way of talking with whoever I am there with. I am yet to reach that point where my sole purpose in going to a pub is to drink, I go primarily to meet with friends, or because I know the bar staff and am happy enough to drink at the bar and chat with them. If you ever see me in a pub drinking alone, it is because I am waiting for someone, or because everyone else was busy and so I brought a book with me - downing pint after pint by myself is just not my thing.

Because I like a pub with music, I have recently been wondering if there is any correlation between what is coming through the speakers and what I feel like drinking, so below are different songs and the beer styles (in some cases specific beers) that they put me in mind of, call it a soundtrack to Friday!

  • Sweet and Tender Hooligan (song is important here not the "video") - Wychwood Hobgoblin
  • Yesterday's Men - a nice pint of mild, ah lovely!
  • Dignity (yeah right after 15 pints!) - Gillespie's Scottish Stout, I used to love that stuff
  • Disarm - Budvar, a beer and music you don't need to think too much about, just plain good all round
  • Folk Police - too much of the imperial stout and I am soon getting homesick, the Peatbog Faeries stoke that fire quite easily

So there you have it, some nice cheesy tunes and beery pairings! have a top weekend people, do good things, like buy calendars! ;)

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

When Budweisers Go Wrong

The plan was simple, to try all three of the beers which lay claim to the Budweiser name. having found a shop in Columbia, South Carolina which had not just Czechvar but also B.B. Bürgerbr?u I thought that this was going to be one of the most fun blind test tastings I had done in a while. Mrs Velkyal was in charge of bring out the three Budweisers, and the first two went swimmingly - I have drunk enough Budvar to know the difference between that and the American version. Then she brought out the third glass.

I was looking forward to the B.B. Bürgerbr?u because I couldn't remember trying any of the products from Budějovicky mě??ansky pivovar while I was in Prague. When it came though it looked like this:

Oh dear! What was going on there then? But I wasn't too worried as I had bought a six pack so I decided to just get another bottle and ditch the blind tasting. The first bottle I picked up looked like this:

Oh dear, oh dear! Every bottle had this foul scum floating in the bottle, an entire six pack rendered undrinkable - I had taken a couple of sips of the original glass and it was simply awful.

What was going on? Surely they filter the beer, so where did this stuff come from? Any thoughts?

Next time Mrs Velkyal and I go to visit the in-laws I will pick up some more Budvar (still haven't seen it in Virginia) and a pre-checked case of B.B. Bürgerbr?u in order to do a proper blind tasting.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Simple Delights

The journey from Daytona Beach to Columbia only takes about 6 hours of driving, but why drive all the way up the Interstate when you can spend a few hours in quite possibly the most delightful little town in the USA? About an hour's drive up the coast, and in this case with the Atlantic breaking on the shore just a few feet from the car, is the town of St Augustine, the oldest continuously inhabited town in the continental US, founded in 1565.

The heart of the town is home to old houses bearing testament to the Spanish, rather than British, roots of Florida. Also in the town centre is one of my favourite little pubs, which we found by accident 2 summers ago and to which I plan to return every time I come through St Augustine. A place called Rendezvous.

I admit I had a pretext for wanting to return to Rendezvous, I knew they had Budvar and I was craving the clean, hoppy delights of this fantastic lager - whatever the label was saying. So good and so refreshing is a chilled Budvar, it barely touched the sides. Just a quick aside though, I wish people wouldn't put B.B. Bürgerbr?u with the German beers - yes it has a German name but it is made in the Czech Republic, just like Pilsner Urquell!

Rendezvous generally has an extensive range of bottled beer, with products from Germany, the UK, Belgium and various other places - including the very pleasant Reissdorf K?lsch you can see in the picture above. As I drink much quicker than Mrs Velkyal and my in-laws, they were just polishing off their Budvar, Pilsner Urquell, and in the wife's case a bottled of a very refreshing Australian delight

The highlight though for me was picking up my first bottle of , the 2008 edition, for my cellar, to be opened on some auspicious future date.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Things I Didn't Expect

I think the technical phrase for the jolly little surprises that come your way in life when you cross the ocean to take up a new life is "culture shock". I have been having it in spades in the last couple of weeks, and in almost every possible situation; pleasant immigration officers at Atlanta airport (those of you who have dealt with the Czech Foreign Police will no doubt know to what I refer); shops with nine million flavours of yogurt, but only one plain white; churches as ubiquitous as pubs in Prague; the feeling of not really being so "velky" after all; the list could go on and on.

A couple of things though stick in my mind, I will deal with the negative first off. Yesterday Mrs V and I went to her aunt's for dinner, as they don't drink we obviously weren't going to buy a bottle of vino as a gift, so in to Walmart we jaunted for a bunch of flowers. Walmart is another culture shock after 10 years of soul destroying Tesco - the variety of almost everything available is mind boggling at times, and the fact that someone packs your shopping bags for you and wishes you a pleasant day, a welcome change from the sour cashier in the Tesco on Narodni asking if you have a note smaller than 200k?, the near equivalent of $10.

The nasty shock though is Walmart's new alcohol sales policy - anyone who looks under the age of 40 must provide ID in order to walk away with their favourite tipple. Thankfully I keep a form of ID on me, but I find it remarkable that for 19 years after coming of age, people will be required to prove they are legally allowed to buy alcohol. No doubt Walmart and many of their ilk will cite insurance policies and the inevitable criminal prosecutions that would follow selling alcohol to minors, but if you are going to have such a ridiculous policy, why make someone who is clearly over 21 produce ID like some wannabe under-age booze baron? What happened to innocent until proven guilty, to trusting people to use their discretion?

The positive shock though was on going to to see what lovely crafty beer goodness they had, and seeing beers from a raft of my favourite British brewers; BrewDog and Wychwood to name but two. But on one aisle I found several Czech lagers that I hadn't expected to see in a million years, including ?atec, B.B. Burgerbrau (from the original brewery in Budweis! hint: it isn't Budvar) and Staropramen. Happily though, Budvar seems to be quite readily available, so when I have the urge to drink a good lager again I know I can get hold of something worthwhile.

Perverse as it may sound, I was actually quite glad to see the presence of Staropramen in the USA as it allows me to do a couple of taste tastings comparing the worst of Czech mainstream lager with the mainstream lagers here, the likes of Budweiser, Miller and Coors - masochistic I am sure, but certainly worth it for interest's and comedy's sake.

Friday, July 3, 2009

First Impressions - Supermarkets

I will admit it openly and unashamedly, I am a fan of American supermarkets, and have been since the first time I wandered around a fruit and veg section and saw the produce being automatically sprayed with water, to a soundtrack of thunder!

In the last couple of days we have been to a Walmart and a Kroger in Columbia and like a good homing pigeon I went straight to the beer aisle to see what was there. At Kroger there was a huge selection of brands that I already recognised; Budweiser, Bud Light, Bud Ice and the like. There were however a few interesting beers:
  • Sierra Nevada Pale Ale
  • Sam Adams Boston Lager
  • Sam Adams Summer Ale - the first beer I tried last time I came to the States
  • Sam Adams Light
  • Tap Room 21 Pale Ale
  • Tap Room 21 Amber Ale
  • Tap Room 21 Lager
Nestled however in a corner of the beer aisle was a little box of golden treasure, a six pack of Budvar, which will hopefully still be there later today, when I pop by. At Walmart it was a similar story, although they also had a variety pack from Sam Adams, and no Budvar. I walked out of Walmart with a case of Sierra Nevada Pale Ale and the Sam Adams variety pack and several bemused looks from people with trolleys loaded with Bud Light.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Pilsner? Really?

Pilsner is one of the few beer styles to have a clearly defined birthday, the first ever glass of this golden lager was served in Plzeň on November 11th 1842 and soon gave birth to a multitude of imitations around the world. In the Czech lands however, Pilsner style beers eventually came to mean the vast majority of beer from Bohemia and Moravia. Thus any brewer which makes a “pilsner” lager will be judged next to the standards set by Josef Groll and subsequent makers of golden lager in the Czech lands.

When I received a bottle of BrewDog’s 77 Lager along with the production versions of Zeitgeist and Chaos Theory I knew I wanted to compare it to a couple of Czech lagers, in this case Budvar and ?amberecky Kanec. I choose Budvar because of the major Czech lager brewers they still use all malt and whole hops, rather than the somewhat ambiguous ingredient in Pilsner Urquell, “hop products”, Kanec because it is a small artisan brewer, and the BrewDog label calls 77 Lager a “artisan rebel lager”.

In an effort to be as fair minded as possible I decided to do the tasting blind, and so had Mrs Velkyal bring me each glass of beer individually without telling me what was what, here are my thoughts on each beer:

Beer A

  • Sight – pale golden, firm white head
  • Smell – quite malty, touch of smoke, a bit grainy – like Weetabix
  • Taste – nicely balanced, light caramel
  • Sweet – 2/5
  • Bitter – 2/5
I thought this beer was medium bodied, and had slight touches of banana, however it was refreshing.

Beer B

  • Sight – golden with a white head
  • Smell – not much going one, some grass and citrus notes
  • Taste – gentle sweetness up front, but delicately bitter aftertaste
  • Sweet – 2/5
  • Bitter – 1/5
Again a pleasantly refreshing beer.

Beer C

  • Sight – light amber with a smallish head
  • Smell – heavy on the citrus, grapefruit in particular – American C hops?
  • Taste – citrus in your face with malty undertones
  • Sweet - 1.5/5
  • Bitter – 3/5
This was clearly not a pilsner style lager, more like an IPA. As Mrs Velkyal commented on smelling it “no Czech beer smells like that”.

From the tasting I guessed that the beers were as follows:

  • A – Kanec
  • B – Budvar
  • C – BrewDog 99 Lager (not really a guess after smelling it)

I identified all three correctly, and while I enjoyed them all in their own right when it comes to being a Czech style pilsner lager, the BrewDog version was never in the running. It simply isn’t a pilsner beer despite claims to the contrary on the label. Of the other two, I enjoyed them very much, and they are both in the Bohemian tradition, but the one I would choose to drink regularly is the Budvar, which has long been my favourite mass produced Czech lager and thus my first task in Charlottesville is to find a regular supply of Czechvar as our American friends call it.

For a comparison of 77 Lager with German style pilsners, see Adeptus' thoughts over on The Bitten Bullet.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Love My Budvar

I don't generally drink on Tuesday nights. last night though Mrs Velkyal, myself and the Sarumans went to Budvarka to meet up with my photographer friend, his wife and their 2 week old son.

Budvarka is, as far as I am aware, the only place in Prague which has the complete range of Budvar beers on tap, including the lovely dark lager and their krou?kovany, a krausened lager which I very much enjoy. If I remember rightly they don't have their stronger offering, Bud, on tap, but after several too many drinks last night I am not entirely sure about that.

When we got back to our shoebox which passes for a flat - one of the topics of conversation last night was how Mrs Velkyal and I will cope with a bigger flat having got used to being able to just turn around and talk without wondering where each other is - I opened the final two bottles of EDM 13, which were about 6 weeks old by this point. What a lovely beer that stuff was, I will definitely be trying to make that again in the future, though I will have to design a recipe rather than use a beer kit. I also opened a bottle of EDM 10 just to see how it was, and rather than the sour abomination I was expecting, it was rather smooth and drinkable - certainly better than I feared.

Tonight we will be continuing Saruman's real Czech beer education somewhere, haven't decided yet and then tomorrow we are off to Moravia for an overnight trip.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

The Fuggled Review of the Year - Beer of the Year

So there we have it, my overview of the year. I have left out many excellent beers, many beers which I hope to try again before too long. That list includes many new beers to me, such as:

And of course a number of favourites that I will buy regularly:

To choose my favourite beer from 2008 is an exceptionally difficult task, and I do so in full awareness that I am being entirely subjective. My beer of the year is thus the one that has given me the most pleasure, the most instruction in all that a beer can beer and the most inspiration as to what I can do with my own beer making. As such, my beer of the year is more than just a drink of the year, it is also a reflection on the brewery which has in many ways defined my beer drinking in the last year.

Therefore my beer of the year, and by extension my brewery of the year is:

  1. Pivovar Varnsdorf for their Kocour V3.

Flying the face of your culture is always fraught with danger and laden with potential booby traps. Flying the face of Czech brewing culture and tradition is like voting Conservative in Scotland. Well done the guys (and most especially the breweress) for being true to their stated aim of not being boring.

May you prosper in 2009, and far beyond.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

What's in a name?

I saw the sign below at the Eggenberg Brewery in ?esky Krumlov and found it very interesting. For those of you who don't have any German it says "Budweiser from the Original Source", just as Pilsner Urquell is "Pilsner from the Original Source".

The sign goes on to state that this "Budweiser Urquell" is brewed at the Burgers' Brewery in Budweis, which is the German name for the modern city of ?eské Budějovice. The Burgers' Brewery in Budweis, according to the sign was founded in 1795, some 60 years before the Bavarian Brewing Company was founded in the US - it was this brewery that would become Anheuser-Busch. Indeed the Burger's Brewery in Budweis, which is today the Budějovicky mě??ansky Pivovar - "Town Brewery of Budweis", is 100 years older than the makers of Budvar.

By the time the Bavarian Brewing Company had been renamed in 1860 the Burger's Brewery of Budweis had been selling under the brand name "Budweiser Bier" for over half a century.

According to Shakespeare, a rose by any other name would smell as sweet - the converse must also be true, call a beer made with rice what you will, it won't change the fact that it is dish water.

Old Friends: Joseph's Brau PLZNR

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