Sunday, May 23, 2010

Czech hotel beers

Visiting Prague means that there are hundreds of bars, pubs and restaurants to try out various Czech beers. But there is also another important place: Your hotel room!

During my last visits to Prague, I have had a few beers in my hotel rooms. Some have been my night caps, while I have enjoyed others during afternoon or evening work. Here is a presentation of some Czech beers I have tried in the comfort of my hotel rooms.

Bernard's lager is one of my favourite beers to drink at home in Norway. It is a very good unfiltered lager beer that is easily found in Norwegian Rema 1000 supermarkets. Bernard's Sváteční ležák is not available in Norway, and as this is a bottled conditioned yeast lager beer (kvasnicove) I had great expectations for this brew.

With a bottle swing top, the Sváteční ležák opens with a bang. According to people I met (and shared some Flensburger lagers with) in Germany some years ago, that is the omen of a good party coming up! The nose is fresh with scents of grains, grapes and malts. There is a lot of carbonation, and the beer builds a large head in the glass. It has a pale, but still golden colour, and in the mouth the malt dominates with hints of apples. The finish is unfortunately full of a metallic taste that I did not enjoy. I liked this beer, but the ordinary Bernard lager is a better beer, in my opinion.

During March there were posters everywhere in Prague promoting Lobkowicz's premium lager. It looked like Lobkowicz is trying to get this beer into the same level as Pilsner Urquell and Budvar in the Czech Republic. I had tried the beer from tap at Oktoberfest in Prague last October, but it was not a favourite beer for me then. From bottle this was a golden lager with much carbonation, and it had a large head. The nose was sweet with a fruitiness, and I also felt the same from the first sip with some hops present. The finish was balanced and fruity, but I would have preferred it a little more bitter. Lobkowicz premium is not better than Pilsner Urquell or the ordinary Budvar lager, but I will not turn it down if I am offered a glass of it.

The dark lagers from the Czech Republic can be very good beers. I have enjoyed some of them, while others have been more forgettable. In October I visited Budvarka in Prague and tried Budvar's dark lager. I liked it, so it was time to try it from a bottle. In the glass this is a black beer with very little carbonation. In the nose burnt notes dominate, while the beer tastes very good with a nice combination of coffee, sweetness and burntness. I felt this was a delicious beer, but it felt a little bit watery in the aftertaste.

I have liked the Klášter 11 degree lager I have tried at places like Klášterni pivnice and U Kláštera in Prague. Of course I had to try bottled Klášter lager as well! The Klášter 12 degree lager is a pale lager with some carbonation. In the nose I feel some sweetness and hints of flowers. The taste is very good, and malts, hops and mints dance along in their meeting with my palate. This is an excellent lager beer, and I hope to try it again also as a draught beer.

From the city of Pardubice comes Pardubický Porter, which is a strong beer in the Baltic style. The beer has some carbonation and has a large head in the glass. This is a very good beer, where coffee, chocolate and hints of prunes play together in the mouth. Lovely! I can really recommend this beer!

You may remember that I brought some beer bottles back from my visit to Purkmistr. I had enjoyed the draught beers I tried at the brewpub in Plzeň, but there was not time to try other beers from Purkmistr's range.

First out at the hotel room was the dark lager. In the glass it was black with nearly no carbonation and a medium sized head. In the nose a lot of coffee was present with some burnt notes. In the mouth I felt even more coffee with some hints of apples. The finish was bitter with some dark chocolate. I liked this beer, but I felt that it would probably be better with a less coffee presence in the mouth.

I am fond of wheat beers, so I also needed to try Purkmistr's Pisar. Poured into an ordinary Purkmistr glass, this was a cloudy beer with a large head and much caronation. The nose was full of yeast, banana and sweetness, and in the mouth the banana notes struggles with more yeast and bread. I liked this wheat beer, and I felt it better than some of the German wheat beers that are available here in Norway. But I feel Primator's wheat beer is a better Czech alternative than Purkmistr's Pisar.

I have had my share of Svijany's various lagers during my visits to the Czech Republic, but I have never tried Svijany's Svijanský Rytíř beer. Therefore I had to try out a bottle of the golden lager. In he glass there is little carbonation, and the aroma is sweet with some flowers and some yeast. In the mouth this is a fruity beer with some apples and pears dancing with hints of hops. Svijanský Rytíř is a really good lager beer! And of course there are more beers to be tested out on later visits to the Czech Republic!

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