Showing posts with label chodovar. Show all posts
Showing posts with label chodovar. Show all posts

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Glassware Stories

I don't really have an extensive branded glassware collection, and even less of an unbranded collection, though I am sure Mrs Velkyal would beg to differ and then regale you with stories of my obsessive care for said glasses. In some ways she is right, I am somewhat overly attached to my glasses, but each one has a back story, a link to a beery event or to the generosity of brewers or some such moment of nostalgia which makes me fond of them. I don't have any chalice style glasses for Belgian style ales as that would be largely pointless because I rarely drink Belgian beer, beyond the Trappists that is. Here then is the full, branded collection.

A motley bunch to be sure, a few Czechs, a couple of Brits, a German and an American.

The glass that features very regularly on Fuggled is of course my half pint, actually it is one of two glasses, and I think I most fussy about what gets done with this pair. When I lived in Prague, I wrote a couple of reviews of Lovibond's excellent beers that I had bought in the UK a while back, and the owner of the brewery, Jeff, very graciously sent me a couple of glasses, which I think are the most beautiful in my mini collection. When we moved over to the States, I was worried that these glasses wouldn't survive the journey, so I was very relieved when it came to unpacking boxes and there they were, good as new.

Chodovar is a family brewery in Western Bohemia that I have liked ever since I tried their Skální Le?ák at PK, first in the bottle and then on tap. This glass though I picked up in a pub on the other side of Prague, simply by asking how much I could pay them for it, and they said "take it", so I took it. The glass itself is pretty much like the vast majority of half litre beer glasses you get in the Czech Republic, and fits perfectly in the hand for swilling glass after glass of amber nectar.

I bought this hefty mug at the Slunce v Skle event hosted by Purkmistr back in 2008, on the day I had the pleasure of meeting, and getting royally rat arsed with Pivní Filosof for the first time. I also bought a delicate little goblet glass which I did all my beer tasting with that day, and which again survived the trip from Prague to Charlottesville, only for me to break it by missing the cupboard shelf by half an inch. Purkmistr also make a lovely weizen glass that I would love to get my hands on - so my Czech readers, get me a new goblet and a weizen glass, post them to the US (address will be provided by email) and I will send you the money to cover said purchases.

Beck's reminding you of a renowned craft brew pub in Dublin just sounds wrong, but it does. When Mrs Velkyal and I went to Ireland for my birthday back in 2008 we arranged to meet up with The Beer Nut and Barry, of Bitten Bullet fame, in the Bull and Castle. We drank plenty, had a good feed, and the manager was trying to get rid of these Beck's Vier glasses, so Mrs Velkyal said she wanted one, and I claimed it would never survive the flight back to Prague, I was wrong, as you can see. One thing I didn't realise with this glass is the laser etched bottom which extends the life of the head, something I still think is intrinsically wrong, hence I refuse to purchase a Sam Adams glass, despite it looking so fabulous.

The glass was a give away to celebrate their first anniversary back in November, and a nice glass it is too, though I think I will have to buy one of their goblets at some point in the future, just because they look so nice. My glass is another which is very close to my zythophilic heart, and again shows the generosity of the brewing world. You can't buy Everard's lovely ales in the US, which is damned shame in my world because I would love a pint or six of Tiger almost every Friday, but I enjoyed it in Oxford when I was last there, and had the pleasure of showing one of their brewers around several of Prague's best brewpubs a while back. The glass is another celebratory souvenir, but this time for the company's 160th anniversary, and Everard's were good enough to send one over to the US for me - such lovely people, who make such lovely beer!

I am hoping that I am not the only person who attaches memories to my glassware, in fact I am sure we all do it, hence the sepia tinged picture above, with the unbranded glasses chucked in for good measure. Of course, one should never look back too much, so I have a growing list of brewery glasses I want, but that would be telling!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

The Fuggled Review of the Year - Amber and Dark Lagers

There is a Czech tradition that if a woman drinks dark lager then she will have big breasts, though there is nothing said about getting a big gut as well, so we can only assume that dark beer is good for you!

In all seriousness though, there was a time when I didn't particularly like the darker lagers on offer in the Czech Republic - however this has changed in recent years, partly I think as a natural progression from when I was fed up with the Czech lagers I was drinking at the time, and thus looked for something different.

The reason I have put amber and dark lagers under the same post is that I drink proportionately less of them than other lagers here, so a post each would be stretching things practically to breaking point, despite the fact that this has given me something of a headache when it comes to choosing my top three of the year, which are

The Strahov Autumn Special was a magnificent beer, rich and flavourful and worth every drop of the two or three I enjoyed in the late autumn sun whilst looking at Strahov Monastery, one of my favourite buildings in Prague.

Hukvaldy 14° was one of those beautiful happy moments when you say, I'll just have the one, and end up having a couple over lunch and savouring every drop, telling all your colleagues that they should get to the pub that very day and try it - then discovering they took your advice and were raving about it too!

The Chodovar brewery makes some of my favourite beers, and their Skalní le?ák is quite simply a lovely beer which never fails to satisfy. When PK had it on tap earlier this year I was in heaven.

This is such a difficult choice, but in the immortal words of Connor MacLeod, there can be only one:
  1. Chodovar Skalní le?ák

Chodovar wins here for its consistency as one of my favourite amber lagers and the fact that I have used it in my various beer cooking experiment successfully.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Roast Garlic and Onion Jam, With a Twist.

Whilst on one of my cyber-pottering trips – you know the kind of thing, work is a bit slow so you randomly look for projects for the weekend – I thought it would be interesting to go beyond chutneys and try my hand at jams and marmalades. The recipe which caught my imagination most was from the Ambrosia blog, written by Coco, for roast garlic and onion jam. My first thought was that it sounded fantastic – I love caramelized onions and an a big fan of creamy sweetness of roasted garlic, the idea of marrying those flavours with a nice beer was simply too much to resist.

As I am learning with my beer cooking experiments, finding the right beer to enhance the flavours of a recipe is vitally important, which is why it took me some 2 weeks to decide on the beer for this recipe. My first thought was to go for something big and bold, like an imperial stout or strong English ale – the front runners at the time were either Hobgoblin or again using the Primátor 24°. Eventually though I came to the conclusion that something big and bold would probably be quite overpowering, especially given the rather strong flavours already in the recipe.

I fairly quickly dismissed the idea of using ale and set about finding a lager which would do the trick. The beer I settled upon would have to be sweetish with malty notes that would backup the roasted flavour of the garlic rather than compete with it. So Mrs Velkyal and I eventually agreed that it would have to be a polotmávé, or amber lager, and I decided that I wanted to use a Chodovar product – especially as I had a collection of various bottles to use.

My recipe ended up as follows:

  • 750g roughly chopped onions
  • 2 heads roasted garlic
  • 4 dessertspoons brown sugar
  • 125 ml Chodovar Skální le?ák
  • 125 ml water
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons apple vinegar
  • Olive oil
And here’s what to do with it all

  1. Break up the garlic heads, put in an ovenproof dish, drizzle with olive oil and roast for 90 minutes. When the garlic is roasted, squeeze out the soft insides.
  2. Heat a couple of tablespoons of olive oil in a pan, when hot add the onions and cover, stir occasionally until they are softened and translucent – this should take about 20 minutes.
  3. Add the sugar, stir and replace the lid, stir occasionally until onions are golden, this takes about 20 minutes.
  4. Add the beer, stir and cover to cook for about 30 minutes.
  5. When the onions are dark brown add the vinegar, garlic cloves and water.
  6. Cook uncovered until you have a rich sticky mixture.
  7. Let the mixture cool before putting in sterilized jars.
This was remarkably easy to make, and wonderfully tasty. There was only one little problem, from about 750g of onions I got about 300g of jam. So next time I make this, probably the weekend after this, I will double or treble the amounts so that I can make several jars. I would particularly recommend enjoying this with a good welsh rarebit, made with the best cheddar cheese you can get your hands on.
And of course having opened a bottle of beer, you just have to finish it while you cook!

Monday, October 6, 2008

Bridge to Nowhere

I spent about 5 hours on Saturday just walking around various parts of Prague. I am lucky in many ways in that I live right in the heart of the city, just a five minute walk from Vaclávské Náměstí, so I get to indulge my love of bumbling with a camera almost every weekend. Our intention was just to stroll around and take some pictures of random bits of pieces, after an hour or so of which we stumbled upon the new brewpub Pra?sky most na Val?? and being in need of a sit down, we ventured in to try their beer. As you can see from the picture at the head of this article, they also sell a couple of other brewers’ beer, in this case Maly Rohozec and B?ezňák. On the door was a note saying that they had special prices for their own beer, 30k? for a half litre and 22k? for a 0.3l - their normal prices are 45k? and 30k? respectively.

We decided to try out the svetly le?ák first, myself with a full half litre and Mrs Velkyal with a little one. Before describing the beer I want to say that I loved the décor of the place, the chairs are solid, and heavy, wood, and the lampshades look like a stylized version of the Charles Bridge, with a statue on the top. In short, the interior is fantastic. I held high hopes for the beer.
When eventually the beer came, the place was virtually empty yet the service was tardy, it was a light honey colour with a nice rocky head, which stayed for the duration of the drink. There were distinct smells of clove and flowers when I shoved my nose into the glass, Mrs Velkyal commented that it smelt metallic. When actually drinking the beer, the first taste was that of lemon, and a bitterness which caught the back of the throat, lingering through the aftertaste. The dominant taste though was distinctly tinny and it has a very slight body. While it is not a bad beer it is definitely not up there with the best microbrew lagers that the Czech Republic has to offer, though it is streets ahead of megaswill such as Gambrinus. In many ways it is the BBC Radio 2 of Czech beer, nothing offensive, but nothing memorable either.

I had noticed on the bar a bottle of dark lager, so I assumed that the second tap they had would be their own tmávé, however on asking it turned out to be the Rohozec Skalák dark lager, so I ordered a half litre of that, as Mrs Velkyal was still nursing her little one. When it arrived, again with the tardy service requiring that I went to the bar to order, it was a fabulous dark ruby with a tan head. On the nose there was again a touch of tinniness, though not as pronounced as with the light lager, and hints of sweet caramel. The caramel in the nose was reinforced with a nice toffee sweetness which also had the faintest trace of coffee. This beer has a nice body and is clean in the mouth, making it a nice easy dark lager to drink.

When I went to pay I decided to pick up a bottle of the house dark lager to try when we eventually made it home, at 35k? for a bottle of beer I was hoping for something really good.

Mrs Velkyal and I continued our wanderings, going up to the Vinohrady area of Prague following up a tip from Pivní Filosof that there is a shop selling Chodovar beers – one of my favourites in the Czech Republic. Sure enough we found the shop, which also sells a good selection of whiskies, rums, tequilas, wines from around the world and tucked on a corner of the sales counter were bottles of Chodovar 13° lager, their excellent tmávé and their wonderful skální le?ák. So we bought a couple of bottles of Argentine malbec, another passion that Pivní Filosof and I share, and two bottles each of the 13° and skální le?ák, with that done we headed home.

Once home I decided to pop open the dark lager from Pra?sky most na Val?? and complete my tasting. One of my bad habits is reading beer labels, and I must admit that reading the ingredient list for this one made me a touch nervous – why would a beer need ascorbic acid in it? For a dark beer it is rather light in colour, and the somewhat minimal head soon disappeared. The smell of this beer was overwhelmingly detergent, that sounds as disgusting as it smelt – Mrs Velkyal suggested that it was the glass, but I always wash, rinse and dry my beer glasses thoroughly. The beer itself tasted like burnt toast and had very little body and was syrupy and soapy, in keeping with the light lager there was again a metallic taste, except this time it was more noticeable and was clearly copper. It was so bad that I did something I have never done before, after about 5 sips of the beer I gave up and poured it down the sink – it was quite simply the worst beer I have had in the Czech Republic, yes even worse than Klá?ter. Really the only good thing about the beer was the label.

I can honestly say that Pra?sky most na Val?? will not become a regular haunt. The light lager is ok, but not worth paying 30k? for, the Rohozec is more expensive and while a decent pint, I can buy a bottle for less at Pivovarsky klub. Plus I have a problem with a brewpub selling another brewer’s wares, it suggests a lack of confidence in their own product, and in the case of their dark lager, that lack is well placed.

Friday, September 12, 2008

These are Evil Times

Last night I went back to Zly ?asy - which literally translates as Evil Times - largley because I was curious to try the corn beer which was advertised on their website. Yes you read that correctly, corn beer. This is one of the products of Pivovarsky Dv?r Chyně just outside Prague, which is, according to their website, the first Czech brewpub and is located in former monastery buildings. The beer itself is a pale golden colour with a good thick head, which didn't disappear faster than a politician's morals in the face of potential power. Tastewise it is difficult to really explain, I was hoping that it would taste something like cornbread - Mrs Velkyal being from the South means I have been introduced to all manner of delicious food, biscuits and gravy for breakfast? Yes ma'am! But my expectations were dashed, it tasted like the vast majority of Czech lagers, which is certainly not a bad thing, but I was hoping for something different, maybe even revelatory. It was however a lot smoother than many Czech lagers of a similar strength, it was an 11°. By the end of the glass though I was pondering something different.

That something different came from the east of Prague, near Pardubice, to be precise the small town of Medle?ice, home to the pivovar of the same name - it was their 12° dark lager. I have become something of a fan of dark lagers over the last year, in particular the offerings from Eggenberg, Chodovar and the absolutely wonderful ?tramberk. When I first arrived in the Czech Republic I was told in no uncertain terms by various people, that dark lager was for girls, especially for giving girls large breasts. Anyway, back to the beer, this dark lager is thick, really thick and has a wonderful towering ivory head. It is very smooth with coffee tones, again there was a hint of plum on the nose and in the drinking. I rather enjoyed this beer.

Zly ?asy is becoming a favourite place of mine because they have somewhat obscure beers that even places like Pivovarsky Klub never, or very rarely, have available. There were another couple of beers on tap last night which I didn't try; the Kacov 10° lager and the Svaty Norbert Weizen which I had tried before. With a selection that changes quite often, this is pub that will be re-visited a lot.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Black Beered Pork

On Sunday I bought a joint of pork with the intention of marinading it overnight and roasting it on the Monday, my original intention had been to buy ribs and glaze them with honey, a dark lager and mustard - however, I couldn't find ribs so a roast joint was the replacement. I had already decided on the beer to be used while I was in Pivovarsky Klub on Friday night, having bought a bottle of Chodovar Tmavé Le?ák in anticipation. As a side note I should say that I really like the Chodovar range of beers, and when PK had the Skální Polotmavé on tap a few months ago I was in heaven.

Anyway, back to the cooking. Thus it was that I made my marinade:

Nice and simple:
  1. Mix together honey, mustard, a slug of the beer and chutney
  2. Score the meat and rub in the mixture
  3. Put in a tupperware container, fill with remaining beer
  4. Cover and put in the fridge overnight

Cooking - based on a 1kg piece of meat:

  1. Preheat oven to 220°C or the equivalent.
  2. Place meat and marinade in roasting tray, cover with foil and roast for 1 hour.
  3. Feel free to chuck in a bulb of garlic to roast as well.
  4. After an hour, remove the foil and continue roasting for 30 minutes.

I was hoping for a nice thick sauce to go with the meat, but I had to remove the juices in the pan and reduce them - I think sauce making is something I will have to look into more.

Mrs Velkyal and I had this served with just plain rice and she commented that I need to be more assertive with spices, although she liked the beery flavour of the sauce and the fact it had penetrated the meat. So definitely something I will be trying again, although I am certain it could be much better.

As for the drop of Chodovar I didn't use in the marinade, it tasted lovely and the bottle will be used in upcoming homebrew projects.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Falling in to La Trappe

I have mentioned in previous posts that I find the highly rated Orval somewhat difficult to get in to, however I have no such problem with the beers from the Abbaye St-Remy in Rochefort. While preparing last night’s dinner of roast pork, marinated in a mixture of honey, mustard, Chodovar Dark Lager and my homemade chilli chutney, I decided to pull out the second of the Trappistes Rochefort I bought at the cheese shop last week, the 8.

The Rochefort 8 weighs in at a very respectable 9.2% ABV and pours a wonderful rich dark caramel colour, almost opaque but with a silken quality. So powerful is the aroma of burnt sugar, that even before I put my nose anywhere near the glass I can smell the delights to come. The Rochefort 8 shares the quality of being sweet with undertones of bitterness that was the overriding sensation with the 6, however this one is altogether far smoother. I found that the initial tastes make you want to simply sip the beer, as if in some perverse manner this will help you to savour the flavours. However, after about the third taste, I couldn’t help but taking decent sized mouthfuls to just enjoy the fullness of the beer. Certainly this is a beer that will be taking up more space in my little cellar.
My enjoyment of the Rochefort ales makes me wonder about my lack of enjoyment of Orval, perhaps I am doing it wrong, perhaps the shape of the glass was wrong, perhaps I am yet to reach the level where I can truly appreciate the beer. But then perhaps I am just a fairly normal Scot who has a very sweet tooth, if you read the history of beer making in Scotland, it is dominated not by hops, but by the malt. There are no native hops which grow in Scotland, and so the ancient Gaels, Picts and Vikings found other things to chuck in their brews, such as heather and even pine and spruce shoots – traditions which are kept alive to this day.

For a drink which has long been the tipple of the masses, the beer world can sometimes be intimidating – in particular when it comes to passing comment on the various ales, lagers, porters, stouts, wheats and myriad others that are available. I sometimes wonder that in trying to turn judging and rating into an objective science, we forget the magic and mystery that is inherent in beer.

Old Friends: Joseph's Brau PLZNR

I have to admit that there really are not that many things that I miss as a result of this pandemic. I am sure that comes as something of a ...