Since the EU entry of Poland and the Czech Republic in 2004, many Czech brewers have been expanding their exports to the north, and just about every year a sizeable contingent from the Polish Bractwo Piwne comes south to check out the winners at the Czechs’ SPP beer awards. However, both cases are about Poles enjoying Czech beers, and the interest does not appear to cross the border in both directions: the Czech Republic does not import many beers of any kind, and certainly very few come from the land of Lech.
However, a few Polish brews have showed up recently at Pivovarský klub, so I picked up bottles of Perła and Ciechan Miedowe Niefiltrowane for a tasting.
Perła Chmielowa Pils (500-milliliter bottle / 6% ABV)
Pours a bright clear gold and quite fizzy with a loose white head that disappears within moments. The nose has only a slight touch of malt. In the mouth, a thin body is followed by a thin finish and just a hint of hop bitterness by Czech standards, in contrast to the “chmielowa” on the label. Despite being brewed at 12.2°, it ends up with a strong 6% ABV (versus 4.4% ABV for Pilsner Urquell). The alcohol is well-incorporated, but the deep fermentation reduces its heft: this is a fairly watery “pils” rather than the rich malt body of Pilsner Urquell or the similarly busty brews from Rychtář, Bernard, Opat or Svijany.
Ciechan Miedowe Niefiltrowane (500-milliliter bottle / 6.2% ABV)
This unfiltered honey beer pours a cloudy gold with a loose chalk head that dies quickly. The nose smells strongly of honey, most likely from the addition of “natural aroma” listed on the label. In the mouth, an initial sour bite fades to a lush saccharine rush and a medicinal flavor akin to that of honey-flavored candy. Compared to the Czech honey beers from Sentice’s Pivovar Kvasar and Rambousek in Hradec Králové, this is far sweeter and much more chemical in taste. The label says that this is Piwo Roku (beer of the year) 2006 from Browar Roku (brewery of the year) 2006.
It’s interesting to note that the two Polish brews are quite high in alcohol, compared to similar Czech beers, and I should point out that this is just a random sampling of what showed up at the local bottle shop — I’m certain there are even better surprises hiding in Poland. Like Ron Pattinson, I’m hoping for the return of Grodziskie, described in Michael Jackson’s Beer Companion as “an extremely pale golden beer, with a faint haze of sediment, a dense white head, and a surprisingly light body,” and with “a sourish, sappy, oaky aroma (like a box that had held smoked herring), and a smoky, dry, crisp palate.” Mmm, smoked herring boxes…
Checking out the neighbors can give you an interesting perspective on things at home. Next I’ll be writing about a syrupy new 10% ABV lager from Velké Březno that seems to be brewed exclusively for the German market, as well as an interesting dark beer from Slovakia. And if you’ve got a recommendation for a good beer from Poland or anywhere else, please drop it in the comments box.