Recently, new owners have taken over at storied Pivovar Herold, the small regional brewery located in Březnice, Central Bohemia. So far, not much seems to have changed: Herold’s Bohemian Black Lager is just as rich and full of coffee and chocolate notes as ever. But you might be wondering if new management harkens good news for the brand, especially in terms of its meagre distribution and lack of widespread availability.

Your chance to find out is this Tuesday, 17 March, 2009, when Pivovarský klub will host a Herold beer tasting.

At least some changes have already shown up: the Herold brewery website has finally been updated, noting a current lineup of just four brews: the 10° pale lager (světlé výčepní pivo), a 12° pale lager (světlý březnický ležák), the magnificent Bohemian Black Lager (called “tmavé speciální pivo” in Czech and brewed at 13°) and the brewery’s 14° amber special (polotmavé speciální pivo). Not mentioned is the brewery’s gimmicky Bastard beer, nor is there any reference to Herold’s long-absent and once-revolutionary wheat brews. Expect to get the final word on these at the tasting.

Especially nice on the new website: the brewery proudly lists its long lagering times, often a good sign for the quality of the brew. Both the dark and the amber get 70 days; the 12° pale lager gets 60. (By contrast, Pilsner Urquell gets about 35 days of lagering. Most of the industrial beers in this country are produced much faster than that, though Budweiser Budvar says it still matures its beer for up to 90 days.)

Considering the tightness of Herold’s line — just four models brewed at 10°, 12°, 13° and 14° — the brewery manages to put out some highly diverse flavors, many of which have turned heads recently: the amber special took first place earlier this year at the Česká pivní pečeť in Tábor, and BrewDog’s James Watt told me that Herold’s Bohemian Black Lager was the inspiration for their excellent new Zeitgeist beer.

The brewery is especially interesting when you consider its noble history, much of which is covered in Ludvík Fürst’s fascinating monograph, “Jak se u nás vařilo pivo” (or “How we used to brew beer”). In 1586, “how” for the brewery in Březnice meant both “white beer,” made with wheat, and “old beer,” meaning barley; historical archives have clear records of the brewery’s founding in 1506 and its production in the sixteenth and the seventeenth centuries. On Tuesday, it would be nice to hear some good news about Herold’s future.

Herold Beer Tasting
Where: Pivovarský klub, Křižíkova 17°, Praha 8 – Karlín
When: Tuesday, 17 March, at 6 p.m.
How much: 140 Kč (students, journalists and cardholders 70 Kč)
Tel: 222 315 777