Divočák dreams of spring

20160304_165834Last weekend as we prepared to bid farewell to February in Prague, I took a quick trip to the local pivotéka in search of something that was less suited to the (still) cold nights and that gave some inkling of the approaching spring. Myself and Kosher had taken a walk up to Petřín to wander around by the small-scale replica of the Eiffel Tower and to take a look into the famous library of the Strahov Monastery. While out walking we saw some purple tulips pushing against the persistent subzero temperatures. Spring wasn’t exactly in the air, but it was trying it’s best.

I picked up a 750ml bottle of Pivovar Matuska Svetlé from the pivotéka and took it home to drink while watching some football. My first encounter with anything from Matuska came in the A-Maze in Tchaiovna on the other side of the city. The only beer they have on tap, it is usually wherever you find it (BeerGeek also carry some Matuska usually) a little bit above the average price range even for craft beer in Prague but it’s worth every extra crown you pay.

The large bottle of Svetlé set me back 100-Kc even but sometimes you prefer to pay over the odds for a bottle that while only a pint and half, is better drank slowly and enjoyed. While Svetlé (light – referring to the colour) is a fairly standard style of beer here what sets the Matuska apart is that it is both unpastuerised and unfiltered. This gives it a cloudy, dense look in the glass, while also bringing all of the flavours out fully. And despite the appearance of density it actually lies somewhere in the middle of a standard lager and a weissbier.

I’ve tried Matuska’s raptor, its IPA and APA before, but this was the first time I had the svetlé. It is like a weissbier too in that drinking it was redolent too of springy and even summer weather which is just as well because for all my hopes of Spring being in the air, it began snowing on Monday evening!

Taste: 3.5/5

Colour: 4/5

Price: 3/5

Burns Night and Seven Giraffes

Either coincidentally or an example of true cosmic ordering Miss Piggy arrived back from a short trip to Glasgow on Burns night with gift Scottish beers. Despite my love of haggis I am not one to celebrate other nation’s national holidays. I try to avoid St Patrick’s Day as best I can. OK I check out the parade but avoid the drunken mess which follows. However, I will gladly drink a range of Scottish beers that I have never heard of.

So first up in Seven Giraffes by Williams Bros Brewing Co. based in Alloa. The back states that it is made from “7 varieties of malted barley with fresh cone hops from around the world.” There is also some “wild elderflowers” thrown in “to create a refreshing, aromatic and moreish beer.”

Now what I want to know is how ‘wild’, as opposed cultivated/farmed, elderflower is going to make any difference to my beer. I am definitely interested in locally source ingredients and organic but boasting about something being wild when it makes no earthly difference is just an exercise in marketing speak. The front is not better with the tagline “microbrewed for maximum flavour” as if one equals the other. I have had many microbrewed beers that were flavourless piss water and many more where the flavours were just not well balanced. Can we just stop talking shite and say “this is a microbrewed beer with elderflowers, we think it is nice and hope you do too”

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With this pet peeve out of the way the general bottle design is nice with a particularly fetching logo. It would have been funny if the Seven Giraffes beer was in a long neck bottle!! But I am not sure the reduced quantity of beer would be worth the brief chuckle.

It pours a very pale translucent amber with a foamy head that does not last. Not much on the nose but there are slight citrus and biscuit aromas that remind me of Jaffa cakes. There is certainly a floral taste with a hint of honey and lemon but nothing to write home about. The mouthfeel is a bit weak which makes it quaffable but in the same way a lot of lager is. This is certainly a drinkable beer and well balanced but not at all stand out.

Aroma: 2/5

Taste: 3/5

Originality: 3/5

Overall: 3/5

Midleton Very Rare 2015

Midleton very rare 2015

2016 has been a slow burner. Most years don’t exactly race out of the starting gates for me but this year still very much feels part of the long 2015. The Christmas season had all the regular nights out and family gatherings. New Years was a panto and dinner with Miss Piggy and Piglet followed by drinks and chats at home with some friends. The weekend after is Miss Piggy’s birthday which has always been a multiday affair. There was a concern that she would have to share her birthday with Piglet but thankfully he arrived two days later. Since his arrival the January birthday season is prolonged and full of cake. Piglet’s grandparents, or as he calls them Ma Ma and Gran Gran, arrived a couple of days later.

So, here I am finally getting to write my first post of 2016 and as a way of finally putting 2015 to bed I figured I would mark the occasion with a glass of Midleton Very Rare 2015. I got a sample of this whiskey from the whiskey club run by the Celtic Whiskey Shop in Dublin. The Midleton Very Rare is an annual limited release and the 2015 one comes in at 150 euro a bottle which means I would never be able to afford a full bottle. I could regurgitate some shit here about the distillery and the head distiller but I don’t know this stuff and just googled it so if you want that kind of info go get it.

The smell just jumps right out at you. A real go getter. It is full of sweet fruits and ginger. The initial taste is all sweetness which gradually builds into a whiskey kick which is peppery and spicy. There is a lot going on here, loads more than my uneducated palate can describe. The flavour subtly changes and leaves you with a lingering finish which makes you not want to take another sip until you see where it is going to take you. This is really good and one dram was not enough. All I need to do now is find a job that pays me enough to have a bottle of this in the house at all times

5/5

 

 

 

Divočák drinks Permon 13° Permon Winter Ale

Christmas is well and truly over. Last week, the 6th of January in Ireland was Nollaig na mBan (Women’s little Christmas). In the Christian calendar it marks the feast day of the epiphany. In the Orthodox Christian calendar, this is the day Christmas itself is celebrated. Here in Prague, the feast of the epiphany is marked by students dressing up as the three wise men and collecting money for charity.

Last Monday, it began snowing heavily here in the city. While I can’t be sure that the snow was general all over… Czech Republic, or that it was falling upon all the living and the dead, it was certainly falling in heaps around me. I went out, camera at the ready to snap it. Just as well, since tonight, the snow has turned in most places to a fine slush. While I was out last Tuesday evening photographing the snow, I decided to reward myself with some beer. After taking some pictures nearby my apartment I stopped into the local pivotéka, Galerie Piva at the bottom of Krymská. ( pivotéka = beer shop. There are also vinotéka, specialty wine shops). In Galerie Piva you can if you wish when buying your beer, request a glass and sit down at their chairs and tables and enjoy the beer and chat to fellow aficionados. On this occasion, after a glance at what they had in the fridges, I opted for a suitably wintry beer: the Permon brewery’s 13° Winter Ale. It’s an American Pale Ale.

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Snow in the locality. This was taken in Havlickovy Sády.

13° translates roughly as 5% ABV. I’ve been told that if you divide the degree by 2.5 that gives the ABV, or thereabouts. If you want to get really nerdy on the measurement sysytems, the wiki is superb. The degree system is known as the Degrees Lovibond scale. Originally the idea of British brewer Joseph Williams Lovibond, his degree scale has largely been replaced by the ABV % so familiar to all of us. The Degrees Lovibond scale measures colour, so as something in the IPA range, this Permon APA is measured at 13°, with an ABV of 5%.

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A pretty light amber colour, but fairly dense, on first sip, the hoppy taste is present but a little burned. It’s fairly light so it was easy drinking. I’ll put it this way, I’m glad I plumped up for two. In Galerie Piva, many of the Clock Brewery (reviews to come soon) bottles (0,7cl) come in at 90,-Kc (€3.33). For two bottles of the Permon I paid the slightly higher 92-,Kc (€3.41). That’s €3.41 for a litre of microbrewed beer. Beer is generally much cheaper here than any other EU country, but even still, that’s a bargain. As I watched the snow melt, a little bit of winter lived on as I cooked dinner and drank this lovely and surprising APA.

Overall Score: 4/5.

Celebrations and Storms.

The two features of this holiday season has been celebrations and storms. I have been to more birthday pints, house parties, and Christmas drinks than I have been to in ages. There has also been six storms since they introduced storm names at the beginning of November. There has been Abigail, Barney, Clodagh, Desmond, Eva and Frank. This winter is certainly worse than previous ones with much flooding across Ireland and the UK but before the introduction of names if there was a spate of bad weather it was just a miserable couple of week. Now we are made painfully aware of how shit this country’s weather really is.

Here are two beers which reflect the true nature of the Irish winter.

Porter House ‘Celebration Stout’

Pours pitch black with a decent head full of big bubbles. It might be a bit over carbonated for the style but I was happy with that because I like to drink slowly and after bigger beers are completely flat by the time I get towards the end.

Aroma was roasted malt with a touch of coffee and possibly oak but a little understated. The taste was similar. A solid rich stout flavour but the problem was the lingering burnt bitterness whish was not wholly unpleasant but reminded me of Starbucks coffee where the beans have obviously been over roasted; a taste which is not found in the artisan or craft roasters such as 3fE or the Golden Bean. This is a grand beer but I felt a little disappointed. The Porterhouse’s ‘Devil’s half acre’ was one of the best imperial stouts ever and this did not even come close.

1 (Market), 2 (home), 3 (beef), 4 (had none), 5 (went wee wee all the way home)

Aroma: 3

Taste: 2

Originality: 2

Overall: 2

 

Victory ‘Storm King’. 9.1% Imperial stout.

Pours black with a generous head which fades leaving a little tracing. The nose is fruity and floral with hints of roasted malts and liquorice. The mouth feel was a lot thinner than I was expecting from an Imperial stout. The other defining feature of this beer was the hop presence grassy, pine and a lingering bitterness which was matched by the warmth of the alcohol. The hop presence was so strong that if I had this as part of a blind taste test I think I would had mistaken it for an IPA. I can see how this could be consider a good or even great beer but if you are looking for the thick, creamy, malty and comforting taste of a traditional imperial stout this is not for you. At 3.95 euro it is a very decent price and worth every penny for a taste of something a bit different.

1 (Market), 2 (home), 3 (beef), 4 (had none), 5 (went wee wee all the way home)

Aroma: 3

Taste: 3

Originality: 4

Overall: 3

Jule find better for less

Christmas is all about excess, splurging, treating yourself and others. You buy the fancy cheese, wine, biscuits, and assortments of sweets. The booze cabinet is filled in case someone calls over. Sure Mary loves an ol’ sherry and you know your uncle Tommy will have a whiskey and god forbid it wasn’t there for them might they arrive up. Dinner has more courses and meats than last week’s square meals. Here at the boar house things are no different and for my Chirstmas day drinking I splashed out on a bottle of Jule Maelk from the good folk at To Øl. Jule Maelk is a 15% imperial milk stout and the 37.5cl bottle cost a whopping e10.95.

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As dinner was being served I decided that it was not a ‘with dinner’ kind of drink and so I had a traditional glass of wine. Once our dinner of venison, salt crusted celeriac, red cabbage, roast potatoes and roast carrots had settled I decided it was time to open this beast of a festive beer. It pours pitch black with a generous dark tanned head. The smell was roasted chocolate malt and warming alcohol. It tasted velvety smooth, with rich chocolate and cherry. A decent bitterness matched with a drinkable but heavy hitting alcohol taste which lasted and lasted. This was a decent and interesting beer but at just under 11 euro there is no real value for money. There are many equally good if not better beers available for much less money.

 

Aroma: 3/5

Taste: 3/5

Originality: 5/5

Overall 3/5 (if it was cheaper It might have gotten a higher score)

 

Beerboar welcomes Divočák

It is with great pleasure that I welcome Divočák. As he roams around Prague he will regularly add to this site with field reports of various kind. Divočák is a social animal with more stories than he knows what to do with them. If you happen to see him wandering around pull up a stool and buy him a drink. – Beer Boar

The Divočák goes roaming

According to authorities no less than both the New York Times and the Guardian, I live next door to Hipster-central in Prague: Krymská. Krymská has just got a new pub, Bad Flash Bar, which carries an impressive twelve taps, each with a different microbrew. On top of this, the bar has 9 fridges full of bottled or canned import and local microbrew beers. An impressive selection and an impressive bar. I’ll take the time to write a full report in the New Year, but with Christmas fast approaching, I wanted to get out of my locality and try something a bit different.

The Czech Republic is a beer drinking nation. The beer drinking nation in fact. The standard of beer here is substantially higher than in many European countries. It’s dirt cheap too. Nonetheless, the Czech Republic has also been swept up in the craft beer craze. The number of micro- and nano-breweries it possesses is nearly uncountable. With forty industrial sized producers alone, and around another seventy small-to-medium brewers that are family run businesses and then the staggering and ever-growing microbreweries, you are rarely stuck for choice in this country.

So, in an effort to get away for a bit from Hispter-central, this past Friday I went to meet some friends to say goodbye before the Christmas holidays start. We met in Pivovar Lužiny, which is to be found in an unassuming 70s style shopping centre on the Lužiny metro stop well out in suburban Prague. Going up to the top floor of the shopping centre you enter the bar – out here you’re well away from tourist country so having a bit of Czech helps when ordering food and beer. Lužiny carries some fairly standard fare, including a decent 11° lager (sometime in the future I’ll write a short intro to the Czech system of judging alcohol content – they don’t use ABV but degrees).

As well as this standard fare, this weekend they had a special advent beer which I also drank. A dirty amber colour, with a fine big frothy head, the initial taste was of a stout. But, suddenly, a certain sweetness hit and we were back in the more familiar territory of Czech dark beers.  While they might be black as a stout, Czech dark beers tend to have a sweet flavour that will surprise. This effort from Lužiny was definitely within that range. A bit tangier perhaps but not sickly like some dark beers can be. A tasty treat for Christmas, but not something you’d go on a night out on. The Lužiny Advent special deserves a solid if unremarkable 3/5.

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