Beer Culture

Stories about great beer from the countries that invented it.

More Czech Beer News and Rumors

It’s the start of the travel season, and that means I’ve been on deadline for a handful of stories. Consequently, my thoughts are fairly well fragmented at this point. Here are some of the many beery notes that are bouncing around my cranium.

Yesterday I saw the first poster (at a bus stop) for the Czech Beer Festival. Considering the starting pistol is set to go off in just 10 days, you’d think there would be a wee bit more coverage — is the word getting out? Someone, at least, should follow-up on the fact that they told us they’re brewing and serving a beer for dogs.

I recently tried another Lučan Premium Tmavé, a once-great dark beer from Žatec, and found that it was nowhere near as dark — nor as flavorful — as it was in my earlier tasting notes. Max Bahnson came to a similar conclusion about the whole line of Žatec beers at Pivní filosof. It reminds me of how different beer (and beer writing) is from wine, given beer’s ephemeral nature: a great beer can become mediocre with the next batch, but a great wine often seems more permanent, or at least more permanently great, because everyone knows you’re talking about (at least if it were beer) the 2007 Lučan Premium Tmavé, not every Lučan beer ever made. This is different in the case of beers marked with a vintage, but how many of those are there, anyway?

I’m not sure if it had anything to do with our anti-Heineken email campaign (more on this later), but there’s clearly much less Heineken on display at my local Albert supermarket: it used to take up about a meter of shelf space, plus several grab-a-beer cases on the floor. Now it takes up half a meter of shelf space and that’s it. Did someone hear us?

In related news, I had a Starobrno Medium (owned by Heineken) yesterday and thought it was great. Not craft beer, but a good factory-made lager by any measure. So perhaps foreign ownership of local beers is not the end of the world — aside from the repatriation of profits, that is.

To judge by numerous recent tastings, Primátor’s Weizenbier is currently firing on all cylinders. Just in time for summer…

Among other assignments, I’m working on an article about Prague’s beer gardens, so I visited a small one nearby that is said to be an occasional haunt of Czech President Václav Klaus: Na krásné vyhlídce (Na Dlážděnce 35, Prague 8). Mr. Klaus wasn’t there, but just before I left First Lady Livia Klausová did stop by. The pub serves Pilsner Urquell and Gambrinus 10°, as well as Schöfferhofer pale and dark wheat beers, both of which were okay.

On that note, how hard would it be to get them to serve Primátor’s Weizenbier?

Even better, how can we get the Letná beer garden to serve it? More on this soon… I have a plan.

Pivovarský klub is holding the Days of Polish Beer starting on Tuesday 20 May with a tasting at — CORRECTION — 3 p.m., which lasts UNTIL 6 p.m., after which the four Polish brews will be on draft until they run out. If you want to attend the tasting, it’s 100 Kč for those who are not members of SPP or Pivoklub, and you’ll need to make a reservation at Tel. 222 315 777.

Budvar dark is a lovely beer. Herold dark is still my current favorite. But perhaps because I tasted that amazing 101 Oktan Imperial Stout in Stockholm, as well as the good Carnegie porter and Slottskällans Imperial Stout I brought home, I’m having trouble getting back into pale and golden lagers: it’s either wheat beers or darks at this point.

Thus I was very glad to read Pivní filosof’s take on Grado Plato’s Chocarrubica, a beer that deserves more attention. I’m working on my piece about Italy at the moment and I know I’m going to ask why this beer isn’t in more high-end restaurants, both in the kitchen and on the beverage list.

On that note, I had lunch recently at the Four Seasons’ Allegro restaurant, famous for earning the first Michelin star in all of post-communist Europe (take that, Moscow). Among many outstanding dishes, chef Andrea Accordi serves a rich trio of foie gras, prepared au torchon, “nature” with rhubarb, and as foie gras ice cream, cooked with Bernard dark beer and paired by the sommelier with Guinness Extra Stout. How many other high-end restaurants in Prague do anything of interest with beer?

One comes to mind: on Friday 16 May I’ll be giving a lengthy talk entitled “Czech Beer: Beyond Plzeň” at Essensia, the restaurant inside Prague’s Mandarin Oriental hotel. The talk will include tastings from some of the country’s best small producers, all focusing on beers that are not made in the Pilsner style, along with an array of Essentia’s excellent pan-Asian cuisine. For more information: Tel. +420 233 088 888.


The Historical Perspective on Saaz Hops


More on the Czech Beer Festival


  1. Nice entry that leaves a few very interesting questions to be answered.
    Now, my question is, why does Allegro prepare that dish with Bernard and pairs it with Guinness? Aren’t there any strong dark Czech beers that could do the job?
    And about Heineken. It could be nice to think it was thanks to a handful of us, but last time I checked supermarket chains cared only about two things, price and rotation. I don’t see the former as a problem between Ahold and Heineken, but the latter. Stella Artois doesn’t seem to be selling as well as it used to, I’ve seen that many places that used to stock it have switched back to Pilsner Urquell. The reason is simple, a bottle of both those eurolagers will cost you 20CZK, and for that price you can buy any other, and much better, Czech lager, including Bernard Svateční Ležák in its fancy bottle. The conclusion is that I don’t think there is enough market for both of them. Hopefully they will end up killing each other.

  2. It was the restaurant’s sommelier who chose the beer pairing, explaining that the Bernard dark lager used in the dish was quite sweet, and the Guinness was more sour, if I remember correctly. Point being, he was trying to contrast, not complement, and it’s pretty easy to suppose that he thought a top-fermented stout would provide more contrast than using another bottom-fermented Czech dark. But why Guinness instead of a different stout? Probably because it’s what he can get, or merely what he’s familiar with.

    In any case, I was quite pleased to see a Czech beer emphasized as an ingredient in a Czech restaurant, especially one with such a high profile. One step at a time.

Leave a Reply

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén