Beer Culture

Stories about great beer from the countries that invented it.

Tag: beer and food

The New Bay-Leaf Beer from Pivovar Broumov

For a long time, the only innovation on the Czech beer market was the production of gimmicky flavored beers, usually a standard Czech Pilsner-style beer with fruit extract added after lagering. For many real beer fans, these flavored beers represented only a half-step toward the goal of better quality and bigger variety in the local beer market, a stumble in sort of the right direction.

Better would have been beers made with the whole fruit or herbs — not extract or syrup — in the brewing kettle, not added at the end as a kind of cocktail. Better still would have been to skip the gimmicky flavored beers and honestly attempt the world’s classics: Vienna lager; Baltic porter; Bock and Doppelbock; smoked beers; wheat beers; Belgian styles; stout, porter, bitter, mild or IPA.

But now, many of those classic beers are being produced — often quite successfully — in the Czech lands. And in hindsight, not all Czech flavored beers seem like gimmicks. Although some were (and are) downright terrible, a few flavored beers have been quite interesting, such as vavřín, the new bay-leaf beer from Pivovar Broumov, aka Opat.

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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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