Friday, December 31, 2010

Best of 2010

It is that time of year again, and just like last year I am going to present my favourites in 2010. In 2009 I had one post for every category, but this year I will present all my winners in this post.

I have had a fine year, and I have tasted many nice beers. My time in Sweden in 2010 was special, as I could drink myself through the very good selection at Systembolaget. I would also like to thank those of you readers I have had the opportunity to meet during the year. Beer is a fine entry point for nice conversations!

As always my best of 2010 list is highly subjective, and I have only included beers I have been drinking this year.

Best pale lager
Kout na Šumavě 12° (unfiltered version)

Just like last year this is my pale lager winner. This is a fantastic beer! I would also give credit to Brooklyn Lager, which finally is available in bottles here in Norway at Vinmonopolet.

Best dark lager
Budvar Černý

This dark lager from Budweiser Budvar in the Czech Republic is a fantastic beer. Runners up this year are Kout na Šumavě's dark lager and Carl's Special from Carlsberg.

Best wheat beer
Paulaner Hefeweizen

This is the wheat beer I normally buy at home. It is a delicious beer. I did not try Primátor's weizen this year. Otherwise it would probably be the winner. Another favourite this year is Weihenstephaner.

Best ale
Ægir IPA

The Norwegian craft brewery Ægir produces the ale I normally drink both at home and when I find it on tap. Ægir's IPA is a great beer! Other favorites this year are Primátor Stout, Nøgne Ø's 100 and Haandbryggeriet's IPA.

Best Norwegian bar
Den gode nabo (Trondheim)

There was no doubt at all. Among the bars I have visited in 2010, this was the best in Norway. It had a great beer selection and a nice atmosphere. Runners up this year are the Bergen based bars Kontoret, Henrik and Naboen.

Best beer blog
Shut Up About Barclay Perkins

Just like last year, Ronald Pattinson's blog is my favorite. Other good reads are these blogs: Pivní Filosof, Fuggled, Knut Albert, The Beer Nut, Boak & Bailey and of course Cooking Lager.

Best beer experience in 2010
Visiting Plzeň

It was great visiting the Pilsner Urquell brewery. I also liked my stay at Purkmistr.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Disappointment at Pivovarský Klub

Being in Prague, I took the metro to Florenc. Not far from the metro station, in Křižiková street, one of the more interesting restaurants in Prague is found. Pivovarský Klub specializes in beers, and in addition to a fantastic selection of bottled beers there are always six different brews on tap.

I liked Pivovarský Klub a lot on my first visits earlier this year. The house beer, Štěpán Světlý Ležák, was unfortunately only available once. Therefore I was happy to see draughted Štěpán back on the beer menu this time around.

But I was very disappointed while tasting the beer this time around. There were little aromas and little taste from Štěpán. In all it was an extremely boring beer, and it was nothing like the tasty beer I had earlier in the year. Talking to expats living in Prague, I have heard that Štěpán is a hit or miss-beer at the moment. Sometimes it is bad, but at other times it is an excellent golden lager.

There was not time for more than one beer at this visit, but I will be back giving Štěpán another chance.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Back to U Sadu

U Sadu was my local during a vacation some years ago. I immediately started to like this Prague pub, and I have spent many hours of my time in the Czech capital at this hospoda.

Earlier this month I was back at U Sadu. Last year it had an 80 year anniversary, and the traditional pub is doing well into its 82nd year.

Pilsner Urquell from tank has been the main attraction in beers from many years. Tankova Pilsner is the best way of drinking the beer from Plzeň. It is fresh, and the tastes of hops, spices and fruityness are much more pinpointed than in ordinary draughted Pilsner Urquell.

These days there are seven different draught beers available at U Sadu in addition to Pilsner Urquell. This means that it is possible to do an entire pub crawl at the pub. Earlier Primator has been the supplier of wheat beer at U Sadu. This has changed. Nowadays the weizen is called Velen, and it is supplied by the Moravian brewery Černá Hora. I looked for Velen last year in several Prague pubs, so I needed to try it at this visit to U Sadu.

In the glass Velen is an unclear beer. There is not that much aroma from the beer, but in the mouth I feel bananas and cloves. Velen was a very good wheat beer, but I believe Primator's weizen is a better beer.

U Sadu is a nice pub, and once again I enjoyed being there. With free wifi there as well, it is a place for both some work, entertainment and a few brews. The opening times are also fantastic. The pub opens at 8AM and closes at 2AM at weekdays. But the opening times for the coming weekend are even better! Just take a look here:

Monday, December 27, 2010

A good time at Zlý Časy

Zlý Časy is one of the pubs in Prague that beer lovers recommend. It used to have most beer taps in the Czech capital, but 24 taps are nonetheless impressing. Zlý Časy is found on Čestmírova street next to Náměstí Bratří Synků. It is easy to get there by taking tram number 11 from the city centre.

I did not like it at Zlý Časy on my first visit in January. The waiter was grumpy, and my mood did not get any better by interacting with him. I had one beer, a Chotěboř Prémium světlý ležák, that was probably not in its best shape.

This time Zlý Časy was a better place to spend some hours. A different waiter was doing a good job by giving nice service and information about beers and breweries. I also met some expats, and I had a great time with them discussing beers, good pubs, Prague and life in general.

I had three beers during my visit to Zlý Časy. The first one was Tambor 12° světlý ležák. This was a golden lager with a nice head and as good as no carbonation. The beer had a fine, yeasty aroma, and it the mouth I felt malts, yeast and a hint of hops dancing along. This was a great lager!

The next beer was Kácov 12° světlý lezak. This was another great beer that I enjoyed from start to finish. I have lost my tasting notes for it, but one of the expats I was talking to at Zlý Časy told me to go a nearby pub to taste all of the Kácov beers. The U Klokočnika pub specialises in beers from the Kácov brewery, and it also sells kvasnicove versions of them. (Please check out Pivní Filosof's blogpost from U Klokočnika to read more about that pub.)

My session at Zlý Časy ended with a half litre of Klášter 11° světlý ležák. This is a beer I have been drinking many times in Prague, and it is an excellent golden lager that is well worth checking out.

I was happy when I left Zlý Časy that day, but I forgot one thing: To visit the beer shop on the premises. It is supposed to have a great beer selection.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Metro beer

I have walked past the herna bar at Dejvická metro station in Prague many times. Usually I have been busy trying to get to the airport, so there has been no time to check it out. Herna bars also have a bad reputation in the tourist guide books, and they usually sell beers that do not tempt me like Gambrinus or Staropramen.

The Dejvická herna bar is different. It sells draught beer from the Rychtář brewery. I have earlier tasted Rychtář's Natur, and that was a good experience. Therefore I took the time to enter the herna bar on my last visit to Prague. Inside, the herna bar is like many pubs all over the world. It has wooden tables, TV screens, slot machines and a bar. It is also a bookmaker there, so it is possible to play the Czech pools or have a bet or two while drinking a beer.

I sat down at the bar and ordered a 12° golden lager. The waitress was quick to give me a beer with some carbonation and a large and lasting head. I enjoyed this Rychtář beer. It had grains and malt in the nose, while the taste was malty with a touch of grapes before a hoppy finish. This was a very good lager beer, and it is one to be recommended. I know I will stop for a half litre or two of Rychtář the next time I am at Dejvická metro.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Return to U Slovanské Lípy

The beers from the Kout na Šumavě brewery are good. Extremely good. In fact, they are so good that every time I go to Prague, I visit U Slovanské Lípy on Tachovské námesti. The pub was closed for some time earlier this year, but nowadays it is back in business with new owners. The easiest way to get to U Slovanské Lípy is by taking the 133 bus from Staroměstská.

This year Kout na Šumavě won a Czech beer award. The 12° golden lager has been declared the best in the whole Czech republic. It is a fabulous beer, and it is also available at U Slovanské Lípy as a kvasnicove. I recommend buying them both and drinking them head to head to note the differences.

This time there will be no beer tasting notes. I enjoyed myself at U Slovanské Lípy and drank myself through the beers available from Kout na Šumavě. You would probably have a great time doing the same.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Czech Christmas beer

I would like to wish all of you a Merry Christmas! And what better way to do it then telling you about my recent visit to the Hrom do Police pub in Prague. Hrom do Police is to be found in Vinohrady not far from the Jiřího z Poděbrad metro station. I have been at this pub several times last year enjoying the beers from the Polička brewery. It is especially the kvasnicove beers I have been fond of.

As usual I ordered one of the kvasnicove beers. The waiter told me that perhaps I should try another beer, Eliška. This is a Christmas beer produced by the Polička brewery. I followed his recommendation and ordered the seasonal beer.

That was a right choice. Eliška was a revelation. This black beer with a medium sized head and nearly no carbonation was excellent. I liked its notes of caramel and licorice. This was a wonderful beer for the holiday season.

If you are in Prague now, I can recommend a visit to Hrom do Police to try Eliška. It is a treat!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Back in Prague

Prague is a fantastic place in December. The snow makes the city even more attractive, and the Christmas markets are fun to watch. In addition to this you can treat yourself to some mulled wine, hot food or a beer or two.

I had some time to spare, so I jumped on tram number 11 to Sporilov. At the terminus you can find the Prvni Pivni Tramway pub.

It is nearly two years since my last visit to Prvni Pivni Tramway. Pilsner Urquell is still available together with Primator's wheat beer. In addition to this, there is a rotating tap system, where several smaller Czech breweries are represented.

The pub has a tram theme. Inside it you can find old tram seats, and there is even a tram bell at the bar. The men's room is special, and the artwork on the walls is one of a kind.

The day I visited I chose Kocour's rauchbier. The other offers from draught were Chotebor's Premium and Svijany's Maz, which were beers I ended up drinking later during this visit to the Czech Republic.

The rauchbier was the first I tasted from the Kocour brewery. It was a nice beer with scents of mackerel and a interesting taste where smoked ham took the lead with some malts and a hint of hops. I liked this beer, and it is the first smoked beer that I thoroughly enjoyed.

Prvni Pivni Tramway had few guests the afternoon I was there. Last time around it was packed, and the pub had a great atmosphere. It was a pity that I had to move on, as I felt like drinking more rauchbier. But there is always next time, isn't it?

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Tuborg versus Tuborg

If you go to Denmark, Tuborg beer is everywhere. The traditional brewery once based in Hellerup outside Copenhagen has been owned by Carlsberg for the last 40 years, and its beers can be found all over the world. In some countries the original Danish Tuborg beer is sold, while elsewhere Tuborg is brewed on licence by a local brewery.

Tuborg's flagship is Grøn Tuborg (green Tuborg), which is a pale lager. I have fond memories of vacations spent in Denmark enjoying Grøn Tuborg with friends or as a thirst quencher in Summer.

While visiting Copenhagen earlier this month I ended up near the old brewery site in Hellerup. The premises are still used as offices, but the beer and soft drinks are being produced in Fredericia in Jutland.

Being in Hellerup it was neccessary to try some Tuborg from tap. A little cafe in what used to be the bottling building had both Grøn Tuborg and Tuborg Classic as draught beers. Unfortunatly they were out of Tuborg Classic, so I ordered only Grøn Tuborg.

Grøn Tuborg was a pale lager with little carbonation and a little head. In the nose I felt a grainy and malty touch. Grøn Tuborg had not that much taste. I felt it was somewhat watery with a touch of butter before a malty finish with a hint of apricot. The beer is OK, but there are loads of pale lagers I prefer to it.

At Copenhagen airport there are several bars. One of them is Bryggeren. It has a nice selection of bottled beers, and from tap you could earlier this month drink Carlsberg, Carl's Special, Grøn Tuborg, Tuborg Classic and Tuborg Julebryg.

I wanted to try out the Tuborg Classic from tap. This is a beer that is widely available in Denmark, and cans with it advertise that it has a fuller pilsener taste.

The bartender gave me a half litre of Tuborg Classic in a Carlsberg glass. The colour is golden, and the beer was fizzier and had a larger head than Grøn Tuborg. The nose was dominated by malts. In the mouth the malts took the lead with a bready feeling and some hoppy bitterness. The beer was also more fullbodied than Grøn Tuborg.

My choice is clear. If the selection is Grøn Tuborg and Tuborg Classic, I will go for the latter. It has a better taste, and it is much more interesting to drink.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Copenhagen's Brewpub

In the city centre of Copenhagen there are many places to find a beer. One of them is Brewpub. This is a great name. It tells everybody exactly what kind of place it is: A pub with a brewery on the premises.

Many beers are brewed at Brewpub, and according to their website there are 14 taps with both Brewpub's own beers and some guest beers.

Brewpub looks like a nice combined pub and restaurant. On my visit earlier this month I did not try any food, but I liked the atmosphere. The place was packed on my visit, so it felt like a popular pub.

The first beer I tried at Brewpub was Brewster. This is a pale ale with nearly no carbonation and a small head. In the nose there were scents of yeast, while in the mouth hops were present with a nice taste of orange. I really enjoyed Brewster, and this is a beer I would love to try again.

Being December, it was natural to have a go at one of the Christmas beers. Red Xmas was dark red, and the beer had almost no carbonation nor head. There were nearly no aromas from the beer, but it had tastes of caramel, coffee and hops. Red Xmas is a nice beer, but I preferred Brewster to this beer.

There are also other brewery pubs in Copenhagen. Bryggeriet Apollo next to Tivoli is one of them, but because of queues I did not visit it this time around. Another place is Færgekroen inside Tivoli, which was recently visited by fellow Norwegian beer blogger Knut Albert.

I am back in Copenhagen next year, and I will return to Brewpub. But I will also try to visit Færgekroen and Bryggeriet Apollo and other brewery pubs in the Danish capital. If you have any suggestions, please leave a recommendation in the comments field.