Showing posts with label purkmistr. Show all posts
Showing posts with label purkmistr. Show all posts

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Longing for Sunshine

If I were still living in the Czech Republic there is only one place I would be this weekend. Assuming I had survived more rounds of redundancy at my old employer, I would have been taking advantage of their generous "benefits" system and have booked Mrs V and I into a plush 4 star hotel for Friday and Saturday night.

Said four star hotel has a bowling alley, restaurant with excellent Czech cuisine (anyone who says Czech food is rubbish is an idiot in my world - pigs and beer, what's not to love?), oh and they have a brewery in the hotel as well. The hotel in question is called Purkmistr, which translates as "Slunce ve Skle beer festival.

Translating as "Sunshine in a Glass", this beer festival was the first I ever attended, and is the model for what I think of as a good beer festival. Not so big as to be intimidating, not too small so as to be quickly over, oh and it is more or less a drinking festival rather than a 2oz sample thing. Hence why I would be booking a room at the hotel for the weekend if I were going, recovery time in a nice environment and breakfast included.

At this year's festival there are breweries from Slovakia and the UK being represented at the event, as well as plenty of good small Czech brewers like Kocour, Matu?ka and Pivovarsky dv?r Zvíkov, makers of the magnificent Zlatá Labu? range of beers, which compare very favourably with those of Kout na ?umavě.

So, if you are within striking distance of Plzeň, jump on the train, then take the trolley bus out to ?ernice and enjoy excellent beer in a wonderful location, and from what I hear meet some of the UK's best beer bloggers as well!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Nostalgic Beer Photos

Mrs Velkyal and I love taking trips. When we lived in Prague we would quite often, as in every other month or so, go off on a jolly. Most of the time we stayed in the Czech Republic, going to places like ?esky Krumlov or Liberec, sometimes though we would jump on a plane, such as we did for Ireland and the UK. We haven't done much of that kind of thing since we got to the US, usually if we take a trip it is down to South Carolina to visit family. This weekend though we are staying in Virginia but getting out of town for a couple of days and going to Williamsburg.

We first went to Williamsburg with my parents earlier this year, and we liked it immediately. We've been back a couple of times since, in order to go to the water park, but this weekend we'll be wandering around the town itself a bit more. Naturally there is a beer activity planned for the trip, well possibly two if you include maybe meeting up with fellow blogger and homebrewer E.S. Delia in Richmond on our way back. On our first trip down there I picked up a mixed case of beer from the Williamsburg Alewerks, including the brown ale I wrote about some time ago. At the recent River Bend Beer Festival, Williamsburg Alewerks had the best beer of the 13 I tried, an imperial stout with coffee - if I remember rightly it was called Coffeehouse Stout and bloody marvellous it was too! Hopefully then at the weekend I will pick up some more, and maybe fill a growler or two with it, we'll see.

Thinking about this trip got me in a slightly nostalgic mood, and I was looking back at some of the beer related pics Mrs Velkyal and I took on our various trips, and so here are some of them....

The bar in Dublin's Bull and Castle

The amber lager from Hotel Pegas in Brno

A lovely pair at Purkmistr near Plzeň.

The bottom of a glass of Fuller's 1845, drunk in Bicester.

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!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

The Main Reason to Visit Plzeň

Think of Plzeň, now think of beer and what do you have? Pilsner Urquell, but there is more to Plzeň beer than just the venerable originator of the style, and it's little brother Gambrinus, and when I say "more to" I really mean "better than".

?ernice, out in the suburbs, is home to the Purkmistr hotel and brewery, where Mrs Velkyal and I spent the weekend. The hotel boasts 4 stars and is part of a complex which includes a restaurant, the brewery, conference facilities and a bowling alley, all housed in a renovated kr?ma, or tavern, dating from 1603. It was here that the Slunce ve Skle festival was held in September, and there will be a follow up festival this September.

A "purkmistr" is a portreeve, or port warden, and was once a brand of beer made in Doma?lice until its brewery shut down in the early years of this century.

The head brewer is the somewhat legendary Josef Krysl, who is also behind a whole slew of other brewpubs throughout the country and Joe's Garage, whose beers sometimes appear at Pivovarsky klub and Zly ?asy. On Friday afternoon we decided to sit in the afternoon sun and enjoy everything they had available, all of which are brewed to 12° and for the sake of brevity I will again use just three phrases to describe each.

Světly (light lager) - golden, floral, classic pilsner

Polotmávy (amber lager) - dark amber, slightly sweet, easy drinking

Tmávy (dark lager) - nearly black, sweet roasted coffee nose, dry bitterness

Blueberry lager - light red, lots of berries and fruit, quite refreshing

Vanilla lager - bright golden, vanilla extract on the nose, chemical taste

I very much enjoyed the first 3 beers, which are Purkmistr's standard brews, although I was expecting something different from the dark after smelling it, I thought I was getting a big bodied stout like beer, but instead got something nicely dry and bitter. The blueberry beer was nice enough, although it got better as it warmed up a little and the fruit expressed itself more, definitely something for a warm summer's day. The vanilla beer was not my cup of tea at all, I am not convinced that the flavourswork together well, and if I had ordered a full half litre then most of it would have found its way down the plug hole.

Good beer, superb food and a lovely hotel to stay in - a quick word on the staff, uniformly excellent, friendly, helpful and very patient with my Czech. My only gripe over the whole weekend was that they didn't have any of their wheat beer available, but with the other beers being so good, I coped just fine.

Monday, December 22, 2008

The Fuggled Review of the Year - Rauchbier

I had my first ever smoked beer this year, the classic Schlenkerla M?rzen from Bamberg – it was a revelation. I had never come across smoked beer before, although with a bit of thought and research I realized that many beers prior to the invention of coke, the fuel not the soft drink, would have had a smoky flavour to them.

The discovery of smoked beers had got me thinking about the kinds of beers I will make, and my first beer I plan to make in 2009 is currently a smoked mild – admittedly using a mild kit and chucking in a mini-mash of smoked malt. It has also got me thinking about the different flavours that would be imparted by using different fuels, such as oak and more especially peat – I wonder if a stout made from peat smoked malt would more closely resemble the early porters and stouts which so took Ireland by storm, perhaps though I am simply indulging my love of whiskey and wanting the same peat flavours in my beer?

The shortlist for smoked beer of the year in the Fuggled world is as follows:

The Purkmistr Rauchbier was one of my favourite beers at the Slunce ve Skle festival back in September, not as in your face as the Schlenkerla M?rzen but still with a distinct smokiness and with the excellent drinkability of all the Purkmistr beers I have tried.

From the Schlenkerla stable the Rauchweizen is the best, again it is not as in your face and the M?rzen but the sublte smokiness coupled with the classic banana and cloves of a wheat beer make for something eminently intriguing.

Kocour take the credit for V3, although it was a collaborative beer, aged in Tokaj barrels from Hungary. Full bodied and with winey elements mixed in with the taste of sausages – this was a beer which tick boxes on almost every part of the tongue.

Of the three, one stands above the others in terms of originality and vision, and on those bases, as well as just being a damned fine beer the winner is:

  1. Kocour V3

This is an annual special – unfortunately the next time it is made I will be living the US, and unless I can find some way of getting it to South Carolina I will spend many a day pining after it.

Monday, December 15, 2008

The Fuggled Review of the Year - Pale Lagers

Yes there are still a couple of weeks of drinking time left this year, but as I will be in France and the UK in the coming weeks I am not sure how much posting I will get to do after this week.

As you would expect, living in the country where lager is king, I drink quite a lot of it. Once upon a time I drank, and enjoyed, the mega-brands - Gambrinus, Staropramen and Kozel. Those days have been consigned to history for various abominations; diluting the beer after fermentation, using corn syrup as an adjunct, just generally trashing one of my favourite beers.

This year though I have discovered a wealth of pale lagers, of varying strengths, which I enjoy and which restored my once flagging faith in pale lager. My top three though are:

The Kout is so well made, and for a 10o lager it is bursting with flavour, and the only pub in Prague with it on tap is a ten minute jaunt from my flat, and it costs an insane 20k? for a half litre (that's $1/€0.80/£0.70 at current exchange rates).

Purkmistr is worth the trip to Plzeň alone, and I am probably being controversial here but it is the only light lager from that hallowed city which is actually worth drinking (cue comments about the unfiltered and unpasteurised Pilsner Urquell available at the brewery - that doesn't count as it is not commercially available as far as I am aware).

Yes I have a soft spot for Primátor, and their 12o is a very nice and drinkable lager, and again very cheap in the Billa near my office.

It is difficult to pick just one to be the Fuggled Pale Lager of the Year - a prize unburdened with history and monetary value - but the award goes to:

  1. Kout na ?umavě

Simply the best lager in the Czech Republic.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Sunshine in a Glass - Part Deux

I came to Plzeň with a very definite plan in mind; stage one, drink Purkmistr beers on the Friday night; stage two, drink the others on the Saturday and try everything available; stage three, have enough material to write at least five blog entries. Stage one was an abject failure, for reasons I mentioned yesterday, i.e. they had different beers than were available in their pub on the Friday night. Stage two was reasonably successful, I enjoyed beers from at least 5 of the other brewers attending the event, and one brewer in particular has found a special place in my beer drinking soul.

One of the most challenging things of Saturday was writing down my notes about each beer, it was somewhat chilly and looking back at my scribblings, some of them are indecipherable. Anyway here are my assorted highlights, leaving aside Pivovar Kocour Varnsdorf, which we will deal with tomorrow. First up was the "Staro?eské bilé pivo" from the Pivovrek Velky Rybnik, bilé pivo here means wheat beer and it was actually rather nice to see them using the old name for wheat beer – once upon a time wheat beers were “white” and barley beers were “red”. The beer itself was very reminiscent of the German style wheats I have learnt to thoroughly enjoy over the last year or so. It poured a cloudy dark yellow with a nice white head, the nose was clearly citrusy, which carried over in the first mouthful, tart and refreshing – it would have be perfect on a sunny day, which unfortunately Saturday wasn’t.

One of the brewers I was particularly keen to try out was Kout na ?umavě, which Evan Rail has waxed lyrical about over on Beer Culture. They had three beers on offer, and so I plumped for their filtered 12° lager, and a very nice chat with I assume the owner. I am sure the virtues of Kout na ?umavě have been extolled in many places, but this for me was as close to Bohemian lager perfection as I have ever experienced, pouring a dark golden with a tight rocky head. In the mouth it was sheer lager delight, I am not sure I have enjoyed a pint of bottom-fermented beer so much for a long time. Pivní Filosof had told me that this was a good beer, and boy was he right – for anyone who thinks that lager is pale and insipid this stuff should be made compulsory drinking.

Next on my list of notes is a 13° dark lager from ?elezná Ruda, a very dark beer which had a light tan head that never fully disappeared. Sticking my nose into the glass, having bought a nice 0.3l Purkmistr glass specially, the overwhelming aroma was Italian roasted coffee, which was complemented in the mouth by the gentlest chocolate flavour, which made the beer very smooth in the mouth and a very satisfying drink. One of the highlights of the day though was a 14° wheat beer from U Rybi?ek in St?ibro. Unlike the Velky Rybnik wheat, this one came served with a slice of lemon chucked in the top. When I got back to our table, where myself and Pivní Filosof were happily swapping beers and making notes, one of the Czech guys at our table was horrified at the sight of the lemon floating in the beer. Even with allowing for the lemon, this had a sweet citrus nose, which reminded me of thick cut orange marmalade, a fact which was backed up by the taste. Again a refreshing wheat beer, but being stronger than others I have tried was more filling.

As a result of these various tastings I will be wandering around the Czech Republic to try out the rest of these brewers beers, in particular I am looking forward to getting down to Kout na ?umavě and enjoying copious amounts of their 12°.

One thing that constantly came to mind on Saturday was the fact that Czechs make wonderful beers, yet the vast majority of Czechs are convinced that mega-brands like Gambrinus and Staropramen are fantastic. So entrenched is this brand loyalty that at the festival one of the guys at our table was almost feverish in his claims that while the beers available were good, they were not as good as Pilsner Urquell. Yes Czechs make great beer, but the mega brands are not among them and the wider audience the smaller brewers can attract the better. After all, is this not one of the key tenets of capitalism, that competitions improves consumer choice? But consumer choice is worthless without consumer education.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Sunshine in a Glass - Part 1

As I wrote about on Friday, I spent this weekend in Plzeň so that Mrs Velkyal and I could go to an event called Slunce ve Skle, a microbrew festival whose title translates as "Sunshine in a Glass". Although the event itself was on Saturday, we went on Friday night and stayed in the Purkmistr Hotel and Brewery. My plan was to try all the Purkmistr beers on the Friday night, leaving Saturday free to enjoy the offerings from the other brewers.

So Friday night Mrs Velkyal and I enjoyed a very nice dinner, both of us are fans of fried cheese – on Friday I had fried Niva, a type of blue cheese. All the Purkmistr beers I tried on Friday night were 12° and I tried the pale lager, amber lager and the dark lager – all three of which are wonderful beers.

First up was the pale lager, svetlé in Czech, which pours a beautiful golden and has a bright white head. In a country where practically every brewery makes a 12° light lager it is rather easy to become blasé about it. This one however was very nice, with a slight bitterness which makes it a very refreshing and easy to drink lager, in fact I could quite believe that it is too easy to drink – especially as I polished off 5 half liters of the stuff over the course of the next few hours.

Next up was the amber lager, polotmavé in Czech, which is slightly more red than amber and crowned with a tight ivory head, making smelling anything coming from the beer a near impossibility. I have become a fan of polotmavé in recent months, primarily due to the excellent 13° made by Primator, well the Purkmistr version is better. That is not to take anything away from Primator’s beer, but this one is very smooth and has a wonderful sweet maltiness offset by a gentle hoppiness. In common with the pale lager, this is a very easy beer to drink, and every drop is a pleasure.

Purkmistr’s dark beer, ?erné or tmavé in Czech, is very dark – sometimes dark lagers can be watery looking, but this one looked solid and had hints of burgundy and a tan head. There is a distinct hint of coffee on the nose, which is backed up in the drinking. The coffee though is not overpowering and in the background is the merest hint of cocoa. The body is not as full and strong as some over Czech dark lagers, but it is still a filling beer – ideal for a nightcap.

On Saturday itself came the Purkmistr guys also had a couple of specialty beers available, a blueberry beer, and a rauchbier, it also became clear that the weather had no intention of living up to the festival name, it was cold and grey - perfect weather for grilled suasages with the beer! The rauch pours a beautiful deep garnet colour and has a light tan head, which stops any hint of the smoked malt aromas from escaping from the beer, the touches that do manage to get out are very light. In the mouth however the smoke is far more pronounced, although nowhere near as in your face as a Schlenkerla M?rzen for example, and it does catch in the back of your throat. This is an excellent rauchbier, but not one that I would want to drink for a full session. The blueberry beer, bor?vkové in Czech was also very nice, red in colour and with a tinge of pink in the head, the nose was fruity but not in an overpowering sense, and in the mouth the blueberries were clearly to the fore, but without being so sweet that it became sickly.
All the Purkmistr beers were very good, and the hotel itself is beautiful and well worth shelling out to stay there. The event itself was excellent as well and in the coming days I will talk more about the various beers we tried, when I say we I don’t just mean Mrs Velkyal and I. We had the pleasure to meet Pivní Filosof, whose blog is an excellent read and heartily recommended. With the various friends we had persuaded to make the arduous trip out to Plzeň (some expats in Prague get vertigo if they leave the city centre), we ended up with a cosmpolitan group of a few Brits, a smattering of Americans, a Norwegian, a Venezuelan, an Argentine and a couple of Czechs. All of us enjoying superb beers and having a wonderful time – the more events like this that take place in the Czech Republic the better.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Hoping for a great weekend

I have been looking forward to this weekend for a few weeks now, ever since Evan Rail over at Beer Culture posted that there would be a beer festival in Plzeň this weekend. The thing that attracted me most was that this wasn't one of the big brand fests with music and the like which seem to be de rigeur for the major breweries in the Czech Republic these days. Also there was plenty of notice, I would have loved to get down to Moravia for the ?tramberk event but I found out about it too late - such a shame as I think their dark beer is the best dark I have had in this country. The thought of trying beers from 14 small breweries and brewpubs was just too good a thought to put off, so I contacted a few friends and arranged for a group of about 5 of us to go down - at the moment it looks like me, Mrs Velkyal and 3 others.

The venue for the event is Hotel Purkmistr, a hotel which also happens to make its own beer, oh such a shame! I knew that there would be no chance of me wanting to come back to Prague after an afternoon enjoying various beers, so I decided to look into finding a reasonably priced hotel in the area. The company I work for has a benefits system which gives us 12000CZK a year to spend on cultural activities and the like, and so I looked into the system to see what hotels were available on it in Plzeň. You can imagine my joy when I discovered that Hotel Purkmistr was on the system. Two nights duly booked in the hotel and all set for a weekend in the home of Pilsner, although as the hotel's website says Plzeň equals beer but beer in Plzeň is more than just Urquell - and I am fairly sure they don't mean Gambrinus.

My plan of attack for the festival is simple, try all the Purkmistr beers tonight in the hotel bar whilst bowling with Mrs Velkyal, then attempt to try every beer available tomorrow - perhaps buying bottles if there are any available to try on Sunday and in the coming weeks. Working on the theory that each brewer has at least 2 brews a piece and 13 brewers makes 26 beers. Back in my hard drinking days I would have polished 26 half litres of beer off without the barest flicker of an eyelid, and if the company I was in was right would have moved on to demi-sec sparkling wine in a club, but I know better now.

I am not only excited about the many beers I am looking forward to trying, I am also hoping to meet with some of the writers of various blogs I read, and maybe some of the brewers themselves. Although the biggest thing that excites me, I bow my head in shame at this, but it willl be my first trip to Plzeň, so the camera will get a thorough workout.

Here's to a good weekend.

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 ...