Beer Culture

Stories about great beer from the countries that invented it.

Tag: bottled beer

Italian Craft Beer as a Gourmet Product


I’ve just about recovered from the eight-day, 2,400-kilometer (1,500-mile) drive through Piedmont and Lombardy, though the impact of seeing northern Italy’s wonderful beer culture firsthand is going to be harder to get over. A case in point: I can’t quite forget the outstanding beer selection at the Eataly supermarket in Turin, pictured above.

Eataly is surely a special case: most supermarkets in Italy don’t carry legends like Thomas Hardy’s Ale, as well as vast selections of local craft brews like Baladin, Grado Plato, Troll and Montegioco. Nonetheless, the fact that a high-end food store like Eataly has a entire craft beer department — as well as an on-site beer restaurant — testifies to how successfully Italian craft brewers have pushed for their products to be seen as an integral part of fine food and drink.

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Italian Beers for Home


What beers do you bring home from a five-day tasting trip in Italy?

Unlike many more-established beer-loving countries, Italian beer culture is based in large part on bottles, rather than draft. (The Czech Republic is the opposite, with even some local experts arguing that tap beer is always, invariably, 100% better than bottled, the concept of bottle conditioning still somewhat unknown here in Lagerland.) This means that before you return, you can easily load your car up with beers and beer-related items. And when you zip down the Passo del Brennero into Austrian Tyrol, you’ll only go that much faster.

Here’s what we brought back with us.

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Tasting Notes: Two Polish Brews


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.

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Pivovarský Klub Brews Again


For this year’s SPP awards, most of us in Prague first met for breakfast at Hotel Beránek, near metro station I.P. Pavlova. Before getting on the bus, we were able to try Hotel Beránek’s house beer, brewed and bottled for the hotel by Chodovar.

What a great idea, I thought. Why don’t more places have their own beers? Of course a bottle of beer is fairly hard to fold, but it would still make an interesting holiday card. Or a thank-you gift. (Personally, I’d love to use one as my business card, but that would present logistical problems involving pockets, weight and my own thirst that I shouldn’t go into here.) Homebrewing’s easy enough. How hard could it be to have a beer made, maybe just for a special occasion?

And then before Christmas, I was told that my local, Pivovarský klub, had a new beer coming out for its regular customers and friends of the house. Called Florenc 14:14, it’s a polotmavý (half-dark) lager brewed from three kinds of malt at 14° Balling, lagered for more than a month and finishing with 5.5% ABV, produced in a limited run of less than 70 bottles of 330 centiliters.

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