"We have no Herold Dark, only the Semi-Dark" said the lady behind the bar in Pifko. I was extremely flattered that she said it first in Czech (I don't think I look particularly slavic at all, more's the pity) and then I paused. The Budvar tap started doing a pick-me dance, but I was there for Herold so Herold Granat is what I got. An experience at once interesting and slightly disturbing too.
It presents itself as a foamy nitrogenated dark amber-red beer, looking for all the world like one of those god-awful creamy Oirish reds or smoothflow bitter. The aroma was along those lines too: sickly and unappetisingly cloying. I didn't look, but I'm sure the Budvar tap was making a told-you-so face at this point.
Punching through the head and taking a sip I found myself in a much happier place. The sweetness is far more piquant burnt caramel than gloopy syrup, and it finishes with a gorgeous grassy burst of Czech hops. It's still pretty heavy, but the flavours allow it to be refreshing even as it fills.
Obviously the dark stablemate is to be preferred, but this is a pretty good substitute now and again, no matter what the Budvar tap says.