In Central Europe, Slovakia is known for its wine rather than its beers, so one of the cool surprises at Prague’s Christmas Beer Markets was the appearance by Pivovar Kaltenecker, a brewery way out in Rožňava. When I visited Kaltenecker’s kiosk at the markets, I ordered a glass of their Kras ginger-honey lager. Even more surprising than the sudden appearance of a Slovak beer in the Czech capital: I didn’t like it much at all.

Okay, so maybe this wasn’t so surprising. In the Czech Republic, I had trouble getting into the ginger lager from Hodonín’s Pivovar Kunc, and Kaltenecker’s version had about the same appeal for me. Beer has obviously been brewed with ginger for a long time, so I understand the historical interest. But perhaps there is a reason why so few real ginger beers are made today.

In any case, the thought of that ginger-honey lager left me slightly skeptical when I later saw Kaltenecker’s Brokát dark lager (above) on draft at Pivovarský klub. Skeptical, but still curious, so I ordered a small glass.

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