30 September 2008

Czech, mate

I am agog at the news coming out of the Czech republic from the beer blogosphere's correspondents there -- Evan, Velky Al and Pivní Filosof. It seems that the overweeningly lagered Czech market is starting to expand in fascinating new directions, and the results from the micros are impressive. My only first hand experience of this deliciously velvety revolution is the Kocour rauchbier I sampled in Copenhagen, and I liked what I had. A lot.

I can only pray, then, that Dublin's ex-pat hang-out, the Czech Inn, gets in on some of the new ale action. Though granted that's as likely as an Oirish pub in Barcelona or Bangkok stocking O'Hara's Stout.

Still, I'm encouraged to see that the pub appears to be taking steps to court more local business, with the rebadging (sort of) of two of the house beers. I don't remember which jaunty moniker they've given to Pepinova Destika, mentioned back here, but its stablemate Francinova Dvanáctka now goes by "Frankies". I'd been surprised recently by the sweetness of Pilsner Urquell and I found this one to be only very marginally less malty -- another full-bodied tasty pale lager selling for next-to-nothing.

A further indication of the local attraction of the Czech Inn came while I was ordering. An Irish chap came to the bar, perused the taps (an activity almost unknown in this country), and then asked where the dark beers were. "Upstairs", he was told, so that's where I got the next round in. "Dark" is a serious misnomer, as the darkest they were doing was Staropramen Master, an amber lager. It's not earth-shattering stuff, bittersweet with some good liquorice notes, but in a pub with such an array of pale malty lagers something vaguely different is always welcome.

While I was upstairs getting the Masters in for Thom and Mrs Beer Nut, I spotted Zlatý Bažant on the bar. I knew full well it was a mediocre Slovakian lager, but I figured it would be worth a tick. That's about all I can say for it: lighter of body and milder of taste than any of the Czech beers. There's not a thing wrong with it, it's just nondescript and very easy drinking, which I'm guessing is all that most of the clientele, both local and foreign, are after.

So this is about the best I can do for Czech beer in these parts. However, it seems there's never been a better time to visit the homeland.

9 comments:

  1. Ah, I love the oh-so-authentic craic of the Oirish bars here in Prague. There's always a bit of Celtic magic in the air, no matter how badly I'm overcharged.

    But the question I have to ask is: Staropramen Master? Not the Master from Pilsner Urquell?

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  2. Yup. I suspect it may have something to do with the fact that A-B InBev have an office in Ireland but SABMiller don't.

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  3. That's... wack.

    If it's amber, I'm guessing it's what's called Granát here, which is not half the beer it used to be.

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  4. D'y'know, I was wondering if it was the same. If so, it's ten times the beer it was when last I had it.

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  5. I think, purely for the sake of research of course, that the Czech Inn wil have to be visited in November - are the owners and staff Czech?

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  6. It's just across the street from the Porterhouse so you won't have to crawl far in search of it. I believe the owners are Czech and they own another similar bar on Cathal Brugha Street called The Living Room.

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  7. Well, the Czech Inn could have better taste in beer.

    May I just point out that Zlatý Bažant is owned by Heineken? Thank you. That is all.

    Nymburk beers are at least Czech, but you'd be hard-pressed to call them local favorites. I've had a few nice pints from Nymburk — my tasting notes rate their Pepinova desítka and Zlatovar the highest, and if you can find their kvasnicové pivo it can be excellent — but there's a lot more going on here now. Which is, I suppose, the whole point of your post.

    Come... Join us... Join us...

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  8. Love to, but it's not the only place with an ongoing beer style revolution you know. Next week I hope to report on the first and only Irish-brewed Altbier, f'rinstance.

    I quite like a number of beers made by Heineken around the world, though Zlatý Bažant ain't one of 'em. And of course the Czech Inn could have better taste in beer: it's an Irish pub, isn't it?

    I have a hunch that they do have a kvasnicové, and it's probably Nymburk's. But their approach to stocking and listing is beers is loose to say the least.

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  9. If the Oyster Stout lives up to its reputation I doubt I will make it that far!

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