Beer Culture

Stories about great beer from the countries that invented it.

Category: News and Rumors (Page 3 of 8)

Richter Brewery’s Polotmavý Weißbier 13°

polo-wheatOne of the cool Bavarians to show up at last year’s Christmas Beer Markets was Schneider’s Aventinus, an amber wheat beer that kicks like a Doppelbock, blending plummy stewed fruit with Weißbier spice and plenty of alcoholic wallop.

Right now, Richter Brewery in Prague has something similar on tap: a polotmavý (half-dark, meaning amber) Weißbier. It’s brewed at a conventional 13° with about 5% alcohol, versus 18.5° and a massive 8.2% for the brawny German.

The strength might be the biggest difference between the two, as some of the flavors and aromas are quite similar. The nose of the Polotmavý Weißbier has cooked plums and chocolate and cocoa notes with just a breath of citrus acidity. In the mouth, it starts out with fairly sweet and complex fruitcake flavors before a dry finish.

Half-liters of Richter’s Polotmavý Weißbier are 35 Kč. Get one while you can.

Beer Tasting on Tuesday, 17 March, 2009: Pivovar Herold


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.

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A St. Pauli Girl from Slovakia

I’ve written before about Slovak brewers using Slavic models to market their beers in Germany. Now a German brewery is using a Slovak model to promote its beers in America.

That is to say St. Pauli Girl — the second most-popular German beer brand in the USA — has picked its annual eponymous spokeswoman. This year’s model is Katarina Van Derham, who “grew up in a small village in the woods of Slovakia, a communist country at the time,” and picked by fans of the beer in online voting. She’s third from the left in the cattle-call shot above.

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Beer and Food Pairing: Thursday, 22 January, 2009

In the minds of a few small thinkers, wine remains the only suitable drink to go with haute cuisine. But in recent years, there has been more and more widespread acknowledgment of the role of beer in quality food and drink pairings.

Among those noting the versatility and depth of beer is the British wine writer Jancis Robinson, who wrote that at one multi-course tasting paired with both beers and wines, she preferred the beers four times out of six. In the USA, Brooklyn Brewery’s Garrett Oliver has done extensive work with food and beer, as have Susan Nowak, Ben McFarland and Will Beckett, among others, in the UK. Then there were the surprising words of one wine steward in the German edition of Sommelier a few years back, who explained the inclusion of a great craft Pils among his recommended pairings by saying “Sometimes the best wine for the job is a beer.”

Recently, more and more food and beer pairings are taking place in Prague, a city that surely loves its beer, but rarely takes it seriously in terms of fine dining.

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A New Brewmaster Takes Over at Budweiser Budvar

There’s big news at the Czech Republic’s favorite state-owned brewery: after 24 years as the brewmaster at Budweiser Budvar, Josef Tolar is stepping aside to make room for new brewmaster Adam Brož.

In the picture above, Tolar passes Brož the Budweiser Budvar brewmaster’s ceremonial “wand of office,” an original Réaumur thermometer first used in 1895 by Budweiser Budvar’s founding brewmaster, Antonín Holeček. The 32-year-old Brož becomes Budweiser Budvar’s tenth master brewer.

So what does this mean for the beer?

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Where to Buy Beer in Prague: Belgians at Billa

Call it an auspicious start to 2009 for lovers of good beer: in the very center of Prague, a major Czech supermarket now has a large selection of great Trappist ales at the best prices in town.

Most of these beers are available elsewhere in Prague, so don’t expect to find any unknown gems among the supermarket’s Budvar and Pilsner Urquell bottles. As I wrote in a post that was lost in the Wormhole Incident™, you can find well-known Belgians at Pivovarský klub and Pivní galerie, though you’ll burn through your pocketbook if you do, as prices for a small bottle of the globally ubiquitous Chimay can hit 153 Kč ($7.90 / €5.70).

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Beer on TV: How Stuff Works

This summer I helped a TV crew from the Discovery Channel film brewers and breweries around the Czech Republic. Along the way, we saw some interesting things at U Medvídků, Chodovar and Pilsner Urquell. And of course we got to try some excellent lagers.

Above is a shot of Pilsner Urquell’s senior trade brewmaster Václav Berka getting ready to talk on camera in front of the kettles. I’m not sure if that or anything else from the Czech Republic filming will make it into the final cut of the show, but I do know that the program is supposed to include Charlie Bamforth and Sam Calagione, and it has been given a title and theme that it didn’t have when we were working on it.

More importantly, it’s airing tonight, December 18, at 8 p.m. on the Discovery Channel, with further broadcasts at midnight tonight and January 2 at 6 p.m.

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UPDATE: The Christmas Beer Markets 2008

There’s more information about the Christmas Beer Markets taking place next weekend, December 20, 21 and 22, right here in Prague. Not only will some of the best Czech brewers bring their holiday and seasonal specials to the capital, but next weekend’s festival will also include a handful of great names in brewing from around Europe.

If you’re at all interested in craft beer, you won’t want to miss a single one of the festival’s just-announced foreign brews.

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Czech Christmas Beers: the 17° Sváteční Speciál from Broumov

Pivovar Broumov — aka Opat — is one of the country’s most interesting small breweries, regularly making an appearance at the Czech Beer Academy’s beer tastings with their “extra-hopped” medium-bodied beer, Opat Bitter extra-chmelené, one of the most aromatic pale lagers in the country. Other noteworthy models from Opat include beers flavored with honey and a new arrival made with coriander.

But this time of year is for Opat’s great Christmas brew: the 17° Sváteční speciál. Among Czech holiday beers in bottles, this one stands out.

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Homebrewing in the Czech Republic

Q: I currently live in San Diego, California, but am moving to the Czech Republic in March, 2009. I am an avid homebrewer here in the USA but I was wondering if you know how accessible brewing supplies would be in the Czech Republic?

A: Until recently, homebrewing in the Czech Republic has had a very low profile. The intimate networks of homebrewers here would often buy or barter their ingredients directly from contacts at small commercial breweries and brewpubs, or even purchase leftover malt from giant breweries like Pilsner Urquell.

Lately, however, Czech homebrewing has really started to pick up the pace.

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